Social Media Strategist: responsibilities, skills, earnings

The Social Media Strategist is a highly sought-after professional in the digital marketing industry. To gain insight into the role of a social media strategist as well as learn how to pursue a career in this field, I had the opportunity to interview an expert in social media communications strategies.

In this journey into the world of social networks, we will be guided by Davide Licordari, a social media strategist at Seolab, author of the blog dedicated to digital communication and social media www.davidelicordari.com,and the creator and organizer of the TweetAwards, the leading Twitter event in Italy.

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 Social Media Strategist: what skills should he/she have?

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davide licordariThe Social Media Strategist, with the experience gained in the world of communication and the technical skills acquired through the management of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, makes his cultural and technical background available to companies to execute marketing and communication strategies across social platforms. Social media are usually an appendix within the corporate communication plan. However, some projects are born and live a life of their own within the social world independently of the marketing initiatives of brands This last element is crucial in the elaboration of the communication strategy and leads the Social Media Strategist to ask himself some questions.

  • how do I address my users?
  • how do I disseminate information?
  • how do I make my target audience appreciate me?

As for the skills required to be a social media strategist, I think it is essential to have aptitudes much more akin to the world of communication than to that of marketing. The social media strategist must study the nuances of a communication strategy based on in-depth knowledge of all social platforms, drawing heavily on his or her notions of psychology, sociology and anthropology.

It is no coincidence that many of my colleagues, including myself, come from more humanistic than technical backgrounds.

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Social media strategy: how to make your strategy effective!

davide licordariOnce the information has been gathered, the social media strategist performs a content analysis and plans a specific communication project for the social area.

It is your responsibility to determine which channels and tools are best suited to convey the brand message. For example, at the multimedia level, it is necessary to assess which formats are most suitable for certain initiatives, which marketing levers to use when planning a social advertising campaign, and finally whether and when to create contests or user generation initiatives.

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The Social Media Strategist draws up a specific strategy, whether it is a ‘stand-alone’ initiative that runs out over a couple of months, or an ongoing consultancy that normally involves drafting projects on an annual basis

Brands usually utilize social media as a means to establish trust with the user and this requires the creation of medium- to long-term strategies.

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 Social media strategy: how important are the followers?

davide licordariIt’s a figure that counts for everything and nothing. If we manage to gather a large number of people within our community, we have certainly done a good job. It remains to be seen how many of our followers follow us and are interested in the content we publish.

In reality, however, this is not always the case. There are plenty of examples of companies that have done everything, even in terms of buying and selling, to acquire fans through advertising channels and creating huge communities, but have ended up with an army of followers disinterested in the brand With well-designed advertising, you can gain tens or hundreds of thousands of subscribers to your fan page, but if of all these only a very small percentage follow your brand, you are left with only a few remaining options.

If we take a look at the engagement rate and the responses you get about the publication of content, we realize that the data is often unsatisfactory because on the one hand, you are penalized by Facebook’s algorithm, and on the other hand you are rejected by an army of fans who do not follow your brand. One of the challenges for us media strategists is to make this essential concept understood by clients who usually only look at the numbers. It is preferable to have a small community, but one composed of followers who are genuinely interested in our messages and who act as spokespeople for the brand, thus avoiding unnecessary dispersion.

 

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Social Media Strategist: the critical issues to tackle with

davide licordariIt’s a war. The difficulties are several and vary constantly. A timeless classic one is the lack of budget. It is not infrequent that impeccable content strategy does not see the light of day because it is not possible to access the tools to convey that content, reach a critical mass of people and make it go viral. Another stumbling block to overcome is the approach of the client who asks for your advice but is unwilling to depart from outdated formulas and paradigms.

A similar problem arises when you have to work in synergy with professionals who place constraints on your room for manoeuvre from a strategic point of view.

The skill of the social media strategist also lies here: being able to continually reformulate the social strategy to get all the actors involved in the brand’s initiatives to agree. This kind of problem arises when you have to convey a commercial on social media that was created to be broadcast on TV. Social channels require a different language to make engagement, but you find yourself with your hands tied because you would have to request a production dedicated to social. A social media strategist not infrequently has to make do with the existing material and adapt it to the syntax required by social channels.

A third problem arises when you have to work for a company that offers products or services that are unrelated to the usually light-hearted and carefree environment of social media, and you find yourself devising an effective strategy that requires technical and challenging content. Everything becomes more complicated because, being in the wrong environment, we risk spreading messages that do not intercept the interest of the social user. In this case, the social media strategist has to suggest to the client which social media to focus on, also having the courage to recognize the marginality of social media in such a communication strategy.

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Social media have more and more weight within digital strategies. Is it possible that websites and blogs will be supplanted by social platforms in the future?

davide licordariI don’t think so. Those who are a bit far-sighted have realised that the trend of social networks is quite variable. Twitter, to give an example, three years ago was the most powerful social phenomenon and now, at least in Italy, it is closing its doors.

Facebook, on the other hand, seems to find no obstacles to its continued rise. It is a special case, which has consolidated itself as something more articulate and complex than a traditional social network.

Abandoning a proprietary platform such as a blog, to publish one’s content only on social and entrust it to a platform that is not under our control, is a really big risk. There are too many variables that cannot be controlled: if we had to make extreme assumptions, in the future some socials could become paid, others could close, as well as algorithms could change and penalize us.

What is certain is that all things being equal, the visibility that content achieves on social media is far greater than that which an article on a blog can provide. This is why each channel plays a specific role in a communication strategy.

The best solution lies somewhere in between the blog or proprietary site serving as a communication tool, while social as a sounding board to channel users to ‘my home’. It is a matter of making a strategic choice because there is nothing to stop me from decoupling the communication strategy of the blog from the social one.

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In the future, there may be software capable of producing already optimized and perfectly readable content. Are web content editors a dying breed?

davide licordariThe software will come to write very good articles, this is undeniable, but the core of communication remains the relationship. This means that the article may be flawless from the SEO copywriting point of view and the grammatical point of view, nevertheless, this software can never replace human sensitivity and the ability to make articulate strategic evaluations In any case, it will be an added value in the search for information, editorial cues and the writing of a text from a technical point of view.

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How important in terms of strategy is the management of brand reputation through social communities?

davide licordariThe social community is the first point of contact between the potential customer and the company. Users use this tool to find out information about the brand and form their own opinion. Consumers are very attentive to a company’s reputation and search social networks for information to get a feel for the situation.

With proper management of the community and brand reputation, one can influence purchasing decisions: visiting a restaurant’s Facebook page and coming across complaints, poor photos and out-of-date content leads the user to be wary.

That’s why it must be in the interest of the business owner to have a specialized figure intelligently manage the community, especially when criticism arrives. What is needed is a proactive approach to seeking dialogue to turn criticism into opportunities, to improve and build a reputation. Ignoring and deleting reviews and negative comments, as many do, is always counterproductive.

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Social Media Strategist: how is an ideal team organized?

davide licordariBehind every Social Media Strategist, there is always an excellent Community Manager who takes care of channel management from an operational point of view. Community moderation, content publishing, and event reporting are just some of his or her functions.

Equally important is the figure of the Web Content Editor and the Web Designer who can transform the strategist’s ideas into appealing products that have an important impact on the user. The only critical point is that a good copywriter can create beautiful content but is not suitable for a ‘free-range’ reality such as the social one.

In reality, a standard work team does not exist. Much depends on the strategies and needs of the client. In some cases, for example, a social advertising expert may be needed to assess which formats are best to engage the user.

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The incessant flow of information on social media has made real-time marketing a crucial lever in the strategic sphere as well. What do you think?

davide licordariReal-time marketing is a very fascinating tool, but it has to be utilized. And yet it is abused. Ceres, for example, does some interesting work in this respect but in my opinion, it is turning into self-referential communication operations. Real-time marketing is beautiful and effective when it comes out of nowhere, it cannot become a column in the editorial plan.

You can have the best copywriters around, but making a joke that works is not so easy
Often brands are preoccupied with churning out catchphrases about any event, forgetting what their users are asking for in terms of communication.

Exaggerating this entertainment-at-all-costs approach risks tiring out even the most loyal followers. One loses sight of the main objectives: giving useful information, launching exclusive offers, and solving problems. My advice is to handle this weapon with caution.

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What are the tools of the social media strategist?

davide licordariSocial media tools are many and every Social Media Strategist has his or her favorites. Some of them are hard to give up because they simplify the work, and make it possible to plan publications and extract valuable information, but the best tool remains the experience of the specialist. Understanding what to say, when to say it, and how to say it counts much more than a tool.

As useful as these tools are for reporting and monitoring competitors, the strategy remains tied to the strategist’s analysis of the target market and ability to understand the needs of the brand and its followers. In other words, social tools speed up the work but do not affect it at a strategic level.

federico sanna

Social Media Strategist: which route do you recommend?

davide licordariGet your hands dirty. If you have a project in mind, get involved and start testing the workings of a Facebook page or Twitter account. You could start with a passion of yours, and learn more about the various platforms and networks.

This work is needed. If you are interviewed for a job in the social sphere in the future, having well-structured, content-rich accounts with many followers, means presenting yourself with a good business card. Start a blog or curate a communication space, it will help you create contacts, find collaborations and help those interested in your advice understand what you can do and how you work. Devising a personal branding strategy in the social sphere is a fundamental building block for those who want to work in the field of communication.

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As a second step, I suggest knocking on the door of a web agency rather than a company. You come into contact with heterogeneous realities and needs, without the risk of being turned into a handyman from day one. Those who grow up in an agency are better able to structure their curriculum and specialise in a branch of digital such as social media marketing, creating the basis for an eventual future as a freelancer. You can learn more about this topic by watching our video blog on the differences between working in a web agency and a company.

federico sanna

Social Media Strategist: how much does he/she earn?

davide licordariIt is not easy to make an average, but we can say that in a web agency, a Social Media Strategist with a minimum of experience earns from 20,000 euro gross per year upwards, but it depends on many factors. You earn good money, but if you want to get rich, become a plumber. In this regard, you might be interested in our mini-guide on Digital Strategy, to get a more complete and all-round idea of the world of the web and the techniques to be used synergistically to succeed.

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