May 30, 2024

Social media marketing: The overlooked skill that can give you PR nightmares

social-media-emotional-intelligenceWhat if?

Two short words that can keep you awake at night.

A common ‘what if’ for business owners is this:

“What if somebody on my social media marketing team posts something that causes a PR firestorm?”

You’ve heard the horror stories. And you don’t want to be one of those companies whose brand reputation is in a shambles because of a social media blunder.

Like Amy’s Bakery.

Their highly public meltdown on Facebook a year ago is the stuff that can give you nightmares. Here is what some of that ugly mess looked like:

social media marketing PR fail

These moments of truth on social media turn into stories. Stories that hurt your brand reputation. Stories that cause you to lose business – and sleep. What should you do to avoid this kind of social media debacle?

The social media marketing skill that matters most

It’s time to stop fretting and start vetting.

By that I mean vetting your social media team for the skills needed to build profitable relationships with customers and prospects.

Most job descriptions for the ideal social media manager focus on “hard” skills:

  • Familiarity with numerous social platforms
  • Experience/expertise with social media
  • Education in marketing, communication, journalism, PR
  • Solid writing skills

These are useful traits, but the most important skill is missing from the list: emotional intelligence. Without that technical skills aren’t going to do you any good. Why?

Growing up on Facebook or having expansive knowledge of social platforms does not translate into grace under fire. In the throes of real-time social media marketing, emotion can overwhelm reason and judgment.

Research supports this.

One study found that people who score high on emotional intelligence are less likely to share inappropriate content on social media. And they better understand the negative consequences of doing so.

Emotional competence is what builds relationships and avoids damage to your reputation. It needs to be at the top of your list of skills for anybody representing your company on social media.

Here is how you can look for it on your team.

Sizing up emotional intelligence on social media

Daniel Goleman was the first to introduce the concept of emotional intelligence in 1995. It is most commonly associated with cultivating effective leaders and managers. But the principles work across any discipline, including social media management.

What makes an emotionally competent social media manager?

Most simply, it can be judged by two personality factors.

Self-awareness and self-regulation:  understanding what drives individual behavior and how the individual regulates emotions.

Social awareness and relationship management: the capacity for empathy and understanding how actions/words influence others.

Understanding the self part of the person will give you a sense how they will operate socially. The key to discovering this is to ask the right questions.

Quiz: How emotionally competent are you on social media?

The answers to these questions will give you insights into the emotional competence of the people on your social media team.


Tell me about your strengths and your limitations.

Tell me about a time when you received feedback.

Tell me about a time when you had a great success.

Tell me about a time when you made a big mistake.


How do you handle stressful situations?

How do you relax?

Tell me about a time when you got angry. What did you do?

When do you feel most under pressure?

How do you handle multiple demands?

How do you achieve work/life balance?

Social awareness

Describe a time when you had to deliver difficult news.

What do you do when someone comes to you with a problem?

Describe the people in your team and discuss what they need and how they feel.

Describe a time when understanding someone else’s perspective helped you understand them better.

What do you do to understand someone else’s behavior?

How do you understand what your team members are feeling?

Relationship management

Tell me about a time when you needed to influence someone.

Describe a difficult issue you had to deal with.

Tell me about what you would do to gain respect as a new manager.

Tell me how you build networks within your company.

How do you develop rapport with people?

How do you build relationships with people?

Removing the ‘what if’

Goleman has said emotional intelligence can matter more than IQ in determining a person’s success. It is certainly true on social media where a single mouse-click can destroy years of brand-building. Gauging the emotional competence of the people engaging with your customers and fans helps remove one ‘what if’ from your life. Sleep tight!

Need help with a content plan for engaging customers on social media? I can help! Message me to set up a time to talk.

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