In today’s increasingly connected world, social media platforms have become an integral part of our daily routines, serving as avenues for personal expression, entertainment, and information sharing. Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram, sharing tweets on Twitter, or connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn — social media platforms have revolutionised the very way we interact with each other. If we look at the evolution of communication media — from print to radio and television, and even online advertising — we can appreciate that all of them are unidirectional. Social media provides an incredible opportunity for real-time or near-real-time interactions!
As of January 2022, there were approximately 4.9 billion active social media users worldwide, which is 63% of the total global population! India alone has approximately 448 million social media users, which is 32% of our total population. As per researchers, the average daily time spent on social media platforms by users worldwide, including India, is 2.5 hours and rising steadily!
No wonder social media management has emerged as a critical function for companies looking to stay ahead of the competition. Today, social media is the primary source of information for customers looking to learn more about a brand, a product or a company. A well-managed social media presence can help companies build trust, establish credibility, and connect with customers in a meaningful way. Social media platforms have also given companies access to a vast pool of data, which can be used to gain actionable insights into customer behaviour and preferences through the use of powerful data analytics tools. This data can be leveraged to create targeted marketing campaigns, personalise customer experiences, and drive sales.
The exponential growth of e-commerce and online business has further intensified the importance of social media management. A study conducted by Hootsuite, a leading social media management platform, highlights that 54% of users research products on social media before making a purchase. Consequently, companies that effectively utilise social media management strategies to engage their audience, build brand awareness, and provide exceptional customer service are gaining competitive advantage! Nike is one of the top brands that have invested heavily in social media management to drive customer engagement. The company has more than 120 million followers across its social media platforms and uses these channels to create and promote personalised content that resonates with its target audience. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, which encouraged customers to share photos of Coke bottles with their names on social media, resulted in a 7% increase in sales in the United States alone! Leading Indian brands are not very far behind. From Zomato and Swiggy to Tata Motors and Flipkart — large companies are increasingly relying on social media to be the fulcrum and catalyst for consumer engagement.
Social media management has become a highly specialised field with companies dedicating entire teams to manage their social media presence and related processes. This is because social media management requires a very specific skill set — including knowledge of social media platforms, understanding of customer behaviour and the ability to create engaging content. Another aspect of the significance of social media management is the amalgamation and elimination of traditional roles in the industry. With the rise of social media, companies are increasingly relying on social media management to handle tasks that were traditionally performed by different departments. For example, social media management teams are now responsible for handling customer service inquiries, creating marketing campaigns, and managing brand reputation. The responsibilities of a social media manager often overlap with those of a public relations specialist. Social media managers now play a vital role in managing the company’s public image, engaging with customers, and crisis management. Similarly, traditional marketing roles are evolving to incorporate social media strategies, targeting a wider audience and driving conversions.
The Future of Jobs Report 2023, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), highlights the growing importance of social media management skills in the workforce. According to the report, social media management is projected to be one of the top 10 sought-after job skills by 2025 — along with such skills as data analytics, digital marketing and cyber security. Social media managers will be in demand as companies look for professionals who can leverage social media platforms to drive business growth, manage online reputation, and navigate the evolving digital landscape.
So, what are the specific skills to have? Since this area cuts across various functions, the foremost skill that you must possess is strategic thinking and creativity. You obviously need to understand multiple social media channels in granular detail — both technically and functionally. You shall also need to understand and be good at data analytics, communication strategies and customer service.
How do you go about acquiring such skills? There are multiple courses and certifications that you can consider. Udemy, EduPristine, Simplilearn and Digital Vidya offer multiple online courses and certifications across social media management disciplines. NIIT offers courses delivered through a combination of online and classroom-based learning. Symbiosis Centre for Media and Communication, Amity School of Communication and KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies and Research also offer postgraduate courses in social media management.
As we move further into the digital age, social media management will continue to shape the business landscape. Its importance is evident in the data, which shows the ever-increasing reach and impact of social media platforms. In today’s competitive landscape, companies that fail to recognise the significance of social media management are at risk of being left behind. By embracing this discipline and recognising its potential, companies can position themselves at the forefront of their respective industries, ready to thrive in the ever-evolving digital era. And social media managers shall thrive with them!
Dr Sanku Bose, Group CEO
(Techno India Group)