Social media is a growing in importance for all types of organisations in many different fields, be it a traditional corporation, a local small business, or a non profit/NGO institution. As people spend more time on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it makes sense from a marketing and customer relation perspective for businesses and organisations to be there, too.
So, whether you are a digital marketing graduate looking to specialise in social media or fancy a change in your digital marketing career, there are plenty of opportunities out there that you can take advantage of. There are an astonishing number of businesses out there who are struggling with social, and screaming out for help when it comes to making the format work for them, increase engagement with their brands, and, ultimately, make more money.
If you love getting up close and personal to real people with social media, these positions can be incredibly lucrative. If you end up working with a good company that values your work, you could end up in a management position earning a six-figure sum.
However, that’s for the future - the big question for today is:
What skills and experience do you need to kickstart your career in social media and grow your career in a positive way?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know - read on to find out more!
First and foremost, it’s all well and good saying you are a social media ninja, but what companies and organisations need is someone who understands what they do. General knowledge of social can get you an interview, of course, but if you are up against someone who specialises in this branch of digital marketing AND has an intricate knowledge of the employer’s sector, who do you think will get hired?
For this reason, it’s critical that you have a specialisation or niche yourself. Not only will it attract more interest, but you will also mark yourself out as different to the vast majority of applicants. It’s a good idea to choose something that you know well - perhaps from your education, previous work experience, or even something you know well from your hobbies.
However, don’t just rely on your interest as a niche. It’s also a good idea to drill down even further and find something you can do better than the rest with regards to the actual type of content used in social media. For example, if you are good at making short, punchy videos, perhaps that could be your niche. If you are good with design, maybe you can make some infographics for businesses. And if you are great with a pen, you can turn your hand at creating winning, converting ads for organisations.
Another choice you will need to make is whether your skills are suited to marketing to businesses (B2B) or consumers (B2C). In the early days of social media, the vast majority of advertising was purely focused on B2C, targeting individuals with special offers, discounts, and opportunities to engage, win prizes, or sign up to services. In recent years, however, as more businesses have leapt onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it’s become a good environment for B2B strategies, too. People have a tendency to trust people they know, and the social signals sent by users when liking or interacting with businesses can be incredibly powerful.
If you think you can connect with people, forge relationships with new clients, and generate leads, then social media marketing could be a great way forward. You will need to have a deep understanding of using trending topics to insert into your content and social strategies, knowledge of how to find and deliver to your target audience, and a good eye for finding and developing relationships with influencers in the relevant industries. In fact, this last part of the puzzle is key - so let’s take a look at following those people and learning how to understand influencer marketing.
The clue is in the name - ‘social media’ is all about being sociable. If you are going to forge a career in this area of work you must have a complete grip on what people call influencer marketing.
Influencers are people usually - but not necessarily - who have high follower counts and are fully engaged on social media. You can see them as a kind of brand ambassador or spokesperson - someone that will represent your content, products, and services in the right way to their audience. A simple, typical example of this in action would be a celebrity or someone in the public eye tweeting about a specific product.
When choosing an influencer, it’s always best to select someone who can actually represent your brand in an authentic way - consumers are far too savvy to have the wool pulled over their eyes, these days. The individual’s reach and the make up of their audience is equally critical. Take a look online at some guides to influencer marketing, read case studies, and learn about how brand use influencers to get positive results. If you understand these tactics and can put them into action, your value as a social media marketing professional should soar.
It’s fair to say that we have an overload of content these days. Much of what you read online these days is just regurgitated from elsewhere because businesses prefer cheap, copycat content that takes minutes to create rather than spending a little more to really stand out from the crowd. However, you should see this an advantage.
You see, if you can crack the content creation process and deliver truly original work, whether it’s blog posts, videos, or images, you will already be incredibly valuable to potential employers. Creativity is sorely lacking for the most part, and you have the opportunity to make a serious name for yourself if you can create unique, valuable and interesting work.
Also, the beauty of content creation for social media is that it can come in almost any form. A 140-character tweet can be just as powerful as a stunning and compelling Instagram image - and as a social media professional, you’ll need to learn how to do it all.
As a rule, you don’t have to have a qualification in social media to kickstart your career - the industry is still in its infancy. However, as time progresses, this is likely to change, and already there are many employers that feel more comfortable hiring you if you have certification.
The good news is there are plenty of courses out there that you can take to give yourself a qualification and learn the ropes of social media. It will give you a massive head start, and also get you into the habit of continually learning. This is critical. Because social media - and online marketing in general - is a constantly evolving field, you must be prepared to keep learning if you want to get - and keep - any role.
Once you have put all this information into action, it’s time to look for work. But how, exactly, are you going to get it? The first thing you need to do is look at your personal branding, for the simple reason that if you want a company to take a chance on you looking after its social media branding, they will want to see you are credible, trustworthy and reliable.
You can also get some experience by volunteering your services. Do some good work for your local church, charity or community and it will look awesome on your resume. And finally, you can even try to do some freelance work to get your experience up to scratch. You can do this locally or even completely online, working to help companies from all over the world remotely.
Good luck with establishing the new social media career!