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Written by What's the Word, Inc.
on June 11, 2018

If you keep a personal social media profile, you may fall into the trap of believing social media marketing is an intuitive pastime. The reality is, however, that using social media to attract prospective students to your school requires a remarkably versatile skill set and a commitment to learning and relearning each platform with every new algorithm update.  

Competitive social media marketing is even more demanding.

Once it was enough for your school just to be present on social media to gain a competitive edge. But today you need a well-planned strategy with an audience-centered focus, and that strategy must be extremely adaptable to changes in each platform and consumer preferences.

It takes a lot to be a good social media marketer, but the skills aren’t impossible to develop. Once you know the outlay you can get started honing your own social selling skills, or have a better idea of how to identify a real pro.

There are seven essential traits you’ll find present in any social media expert.


Social Intuition

A true social media expert doesn’t just watch for trends – he develops them. Your social guru should appear to always be easily adaptable to any new trend in your social community.

The reality, however, is far more impressive.

Your social media expert should be able to gather from engagements on your profile as much information as you might from being in the room with your best friend. He is able to notice trends in interactions and develop those trends into new waves of excitement around your institution.

In short, your social media manager should be able to merge data and intuition to keep your content fresh and your audience engaged.


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Research Skills

Online algorithms change almost constantly. At any moment, the tried and true method of getting noticed on any given social media platform could start flagging bots to subvert or even hide your content.

And updates to these algorithms do not always include a detailed explanation of how the updates will affect marketers.

That’s why your social media manager must also be a research and experimentation expert. She should know how to test a platform for best results, and where to go to find what other experts have learned.



Not only are updates to existing platforms common, entirely new social media sites pop up on the web all the time.  As an academic institution, your target audience often makes up the earliest adopters of new social mediums.

A social media expert who is comfortable expanding his expertise early is an invaluable asset to your marketing team. As an early adopter, you place your institution at a significant advantage compared to competitive schools.

Early adopters have a chance to monitor the development of a new platform, gaining a deeper understanding of the platforms marketing value and likelihood of long term success.

In some cases, your social marketing manager can even affect the platform’s development to your school’s benefit.



One thing too many second-tier social media managers do too often is give up on a platform too early. These individuals will run a few campaigns and give up on the medium if they underperform.

Your social media guru welcomes these challenges. She knows the platform isn’t the problem. She is loathe to give up on a platform until she knows what it takes to succeed.

In the end, a particular social media platform may not be right for your school. Your social guru should be able to tell you exactly why, and back her assessment with sound data.


Time Management

All of this testing and learning takes time. And you’ll want to see the results of some successful campaigns in the meantime.

That’s why your social media manager must be a master of time management. He should be able to balance his time between getting results early on and staying on the cutting edge without falling behind or feeling overwhelmed.



Automation is an invaluable tool to the top-tier social media expert. She knows she has to be responsive and she can’t always predict what might be coming next, so she needs to keep the content flowing while always having time to catch a time-sensitive wave.

For all the basics – new content offers, upcoming events, school news, etc. – she knows that scheduling communications ahead of time gives her the flexibility to experiment later, and helps set her regular audience to her clock.



The advanced social media marketing expert knows that each platform has it’s own style, it’s own quirks, and can get his point across on each one.

A few things the social media guru has to keep organized:

-communications styles

-peak interaction times

-engagement responses

-lead flows

-audience segmentation and messaging

And this is only the beginning.

Your social pro is a master of organization, among everything else.

This should give you a little deeper respect for what it takes to be a successful social media manager. It’s a lot of work, an it’s only the tip iceberg. Find out how to use the other tools in the Digital Marketing Toolbox to generate leads for your school.

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