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6 Essential Social Media Skills that your MBA Didn’t Teach you

MBAs have been the standard for strategic thinking but one trend remains clear: technology moves much faster than college curriculum.

For example, in January 2015 alone, Apple’s top free iOS apps had more than 10.3 million downloads every day. As the supply and demand of new apps and tech products and services continues to grow, so should the rate of our knowledge and understanding of how this affects business.

In many cases, smart employees are skipping the traditional MBA path and instead gaining fast and relevant skills with “micro-credentials.” Instead of learning from a professor, these supplementary online courses and certifications are taught by practitioners and professionals working within and helping shape the industry every day.

“To compete in today’s fast-paced business environment, leaders must help their HR departments and hiring managers broaden the perception of what it means to obtain a useful and meaningful education,” wrote Mandy Gilbert, CEO of Creative Niche, a Toronto-based staffing, recruitment, and executive search firm in the Financial Post.

In this post, we’ll show 6 examples of skills that you won’t learn in MBA school.

To learn more about why our education system is failing us and what you can do to ensure you’re ready to excel in today’s competitive workforce, vote for Kirsten Bailey to speak at SXSW Interactive 2016.

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6 essential social media skills for modern marketers

1. How to create a social media promotion plan for a product launch

Gone are the days of exclusive media stories breaking the news of a new product, service, business, or campaign. In Schneider Associates’s 2014 Most Memorable New Product Launch survey, Facebook was named the second-most-used source for new product launch information after TV commercials. Depending on the targeted generation of consumers, companies need promotion plans that consider a variety of media, with an increasing emphasis on social media.

Apps like Snapchat, Periscope, and Meerkat offer exclusive opportunities for brands to connect with fans virtually. Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide avenues for social contesting, amplifying in-person events, rewarding brand advocates, and sparking conversations. For product launches to be effective, brands have to be creative and nimble, using a variety of medium, with social media as a strong supporting character.

Launching your first social media campaign? Use this checklist

2. How to handle a social media crisis or emergency

From US Airways’ infamous 2014 social media scandal to Tinder’s more recent highly publicized Twitter rant to Vanity fair, all businesses are susceptible to social media crises and PR disasters. What sets one business apart from another lies somewhere between publishing security and crisis communications. Add an extra layer of security between your corporate social accounts and your summer intern’s publishing access. Should that disastrous tweet still sneak through, triggering a seemingly never-ending public shaming, is your brand equipped with the knowledge and skill sets to mitigate the risks?

Why fear spreads faster than facts on social media

3. How to use social media influencers to amplify your marketing

Social media influencers are individuals who have power over others when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Influencers can be measured by number and quality of followers, celebrity status, expertise, and quality of sharing or engagement. In order for them to be important for your business, they must be relevant, help you reach new or targeted audiences, and resonate with your audience.

“We call them KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) now,” says Chris Breikss, Founding Partner of 6S Marketing, a marketing agency based in Vancouver, Toronto, and New York City. “With the rise of popularity in incorporating KOLs into corporate marketing strategies, some agencies and businesses that aren’t jumping on board are being left behind.”

How to engage and create a lasting relationship with social media influencers

4. The importance of social media advertising and how it integrates with an organic strategy

Social media advertising is a relatively new market projected to generate $11 billion in revenue by 2017—that’s up from an estimated $8.4 billion in 2015. Social ads offer businesses advanced targeting options around interest, behavior, and connections, improved sales conversion tracking, and greater mobile functionality.

While social ads—or paid social—is all about creating attention-grabbing posts that will improve traffic or sales, organic social media forces businesses to earn their way into newsfeeds with great content. Both approaches require a different strategy, but combining elements of both paid and earned media creates a harmonic, integrated social media strategy.

A beginner’s guide to social media advertising

5. How to create a measurable content strategy

When it comes to planning, creating, promoting, and measuring content, a solid content marketing strategy is essential for success. Establishing a strategy early on reduces the workload over time and makes your content more effective at meeting business objectives.

Determine your goals, audience, and what content types are best suited for your audience. For example, if your goal is to drive traffic back to your website, you’ll want to share SEO-friendly content that’s relevant to your business. This could include targeted social media ads or SEO-optimized blog content.

How will you execute, promote, and measure your content? While content execution plans should include a timeline, schedule, idea process, project brief, and plan of attack, promotion plans must consider a combination of owned, earned, and paid social media.

How to create a content marketing strategy: A walkthrough

How to create a social media marketing plan in 6 steps

6. How to track sales back to a social media message

As an essential marketing channel for businesses, social media has the power to attract leads and help them down the sales funnel. Tracking your return on investment (ROI) on social media, like creating a content marketing strategy, first requires you to map out business goals.

Set specific goals and timelines around attainable metrics such as reach, website traffic, leads generate, sign-ups and conversions, and revenue generated. Analytics tools such as Hootsuite Analytics or Google Analytics help you measure and keep track of your goals’ progress, especially when social messages have added custom URL parameters.

How to measure social media ROI for your business