It’s a pretty accurate statement that most people spend some part of their work day on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube, and while perusing these sites is sometimes frowned upon or even blocked from access at various workplaces, some people actually get paid to be on these sites, plus a host of others, all day long.
A career in social media – for real? Very much so. People get paid a decent wage to Facebook, Tweet, Pin and blog, however, it is a little more involved in that. In today’s business world, social media is a very real, and very necessary thing. Establishing an online presence is a crucial element to a business’ success, but establishing that presence is time-consuming. Therefore, jobs are being created that focus solely on things like blogging, social media marketing campaign strategies, and maintaining customer satisfaction by monitoring and responding to things like Twitter and Facebook feeds as soon as they arise.
Skills, salary and smartphones.
Social media marketing is like branding on steroids. Your mission as a social media specialist, should you choose to accept it, consists of getting the word out about the company you’re working for, what they’re offering and why people should care about it in the quickest, most concise and creative way possible. You’ll also need to be keep up with current trends and spot new ones.
Since social media is so instant, in addition to keeping up with current events and trends, much of your job will depend on your ability to keep up with customer interaction. In many ways, your job may seem to follow the same tract as that of a sales rep, but instead of interacting with someone on the phone, you’ll be fielding questions and comments through the various social media channels out there. That means you may have to answer the same questions over and over…and over again, so a high tolerance for repetition, as well as a heavy dose of patience will serve you well.
Journalism, Marketing, and English degrees will serve you well when pursuing a career in social media. As someone starting out or looking to steer your career in the social media direction, the best way to get experience is very DIY. For instance, start by writing a blog. Find what interests you, head on over to WordPress, Tumblr or Blogger and start posting. Use your blog as a training ground to create daily, weekly, or monthly content that can include photos, writing, videos, podcasting, or any combination therein. Once you’ve got your content posted, get it out to social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as a way to drive people to your site. Increase your own marketability by establishing your own strong presence online. Play around, find your niche and make that niche the focus of your social media life on a daily basis. If you want a career in social media, all this “play” will serve you well in the job market.
HTML, Google Analytics and social media management tools like HootSuite and Buffer are all wonderful tools to have a basic working knowledge of when pursuing a career in social media, as is having solid PR skills like writing press releases, and knowing how to reach a target audience.
You should know how to use these applications on your smartphone since social media never sleeps. The immediacy and real-time aspect of social media will require you to be tuned in at all times, and the best way to do that is through your smartphone so know how to use it – well.
The salary range for people working in social media is $22K annually and all the up to over $100K annually depending on geographical location and scope of the position. Check this infographic for more in depth details of the current social media landscape.
Know your skill set.
Unless you’re living under a rock these days, everyone knows what Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube are and what they do. Most people know what Tumblr, WordPress, and Blogger do, too, but there are a few that you may have never heard of but you should if you want to stand out in the social media marketing landscape.
Pinterest – Pinterest is perhaps the newest social media tool to take off, and businesses have taken notice. More visual than content driven, Pinterest works almost exclusively in pictures. While creating creative boards and captions can help make a business stand out, it’s the pictures that grab pinners and help businesses to expand their reach and drive more people to their site.
Instagram – Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual marketing tool that focuses on photographs in order to generate followers. Instagram forces businesses to get creative with their marketing, even adding a bit of whimsy. Businesses can promote products, company culture, campaigns and contests that get users involved and interested in their brand. Hashtags have expanded beyond the Twitterverse, and using them on Instagram broadens a company’s reach. As with Pinterest, companies are afforded the opportunity to tell their story through pictures.
Google+ – Google+ is a great social media tool because it can really boost a business’ ranking in Google Search Engines. Similar to Facebook, Google+ allows users to share content, post status updates and gain friends, however, it differs in that you have more control over who sees what in the form of Circles, allowing businesses to really hone in on and target exactly who they want to with their content.
Foursquare – Foursquare is an app that allows you to “check in” wherever you are and get recommendations based on where you’ve been. The app is a great tool for businesses to try and get people to walk through their door by being listed on FourSquare and offering deals and discounts, posting updates, listing events and then monitoring the results.
StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking site that can drive a lot of users to a business’ website by placing a StumbleUpon badge or widget up on any content, posts or pages by that business. By providing StumbleUpon with topics that interest you, they will, in turn, be provided with websites, photography and videos that suit those interests. For businesses, StumbleUpon can be hit or miss, since it’s very much based on community. In order for a business’ site to be “stumbled upon” that business needs to “stumble upon” a large number of other websites. StumbleUpon is free for most but does offer promotion for a price.
SlideShare – SlideShare is an online community for presentations, webinars, videos, PDFs and documents. You can upload PowerPoint presentations and Keynote files and share with anyone virtually with the possibility of reaching millions of people. This is a great social media tool for growing your professional network since it allows you to post presentations to LinkedIn as a tool to make yourself more appealing to prospective employers. You can even embed SlideShare on your blog via widgets, and embed YouTube videos in your slideshows. The capabilities are vast with this platform, from “Slidecasts,” a podcast, slideshow hybrid that allows you to sync audio to your slides, to Zipcast, a combination of slides, videos, audio and chat capabilities all in one shot that can be between two people or two million people, and SlideShare offers custom branding options so your account can have the same look as your business or website.
Prezi – Labeled “the visualization of thoughts in motion,” Prezi is another online presentation tool. Prezi differs from SlideShare in that it takes on a more cinematic approach. A self-proclaimed, “virtual whiteboard,” Prezi advocates starting a dialogue and creating a conversation through a visual, virtual narrative by zooming in and out versus moving side to side from slide to slide. The zooming feature creates a more visually pleasing presentation while also eliminating the need to make individual slides.
The Social Media Marketplace.
Community. Creating a shared experience. The social business market. These are buzzwords surrounding social media today. Sharing is caring and, in social media, the more a company shares, the more that company’s customers will care about what they have to say and what they’re selling. The goal is to humanize the virtual experience, and here are a few job positions to facilitate that.
Social Media Specialist/Manager/Coordinator – A Social Media Specialist is responsible for knowing the best ways to implement social media strategies in order to create brand awareness through all the various social media channels. S/He is responsible for getting a company’s name out there, generating buzz, gaining followers and interacting with customers through the whole of the online community. A Social Media Specialist is also responsible for developing and implementing social media programs, handling social interaction, and responding to people interacting with the company’s social media sites.
Social Media Analyst – The Social Media Analyst looks at which social media campaigns and channels work best. Spotting trends, themes and target audiences. Hootsuite, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics and Insights are good tools to be familiar with.
Blogger – Professional blogging comes in two forms – either blogging for a company and talking about their products and services, or blogging about a company’s product and services on a personal website. Blogging is great for writers, journalists, and those with a degree in Marketing. Bloggers need to have strong research and writing skills and need to have the ability to come up with fresh, unique content in order to drive people to their site. Professional bloggers should be well-versed in SEO. Knowing Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, even experience Podcasting are all great skills to have as a blogger, and HTML experience wouldn’t hurt either.
Online Community Manager – This position is extremely customer focused and involves spending a lot of time blogging, and interacting with customers and offering support, all with the goal of deepening the customer’s experience through social media channels. The Online Community Manager also establishes and implements new and better strategies toward making that customer experience as streamlined and satisfactory as possible.
What the landscape looks like now…
The way businesses utilize social media as a marketing tool is still evolving, as companies work to engage current and prospective customers in innovative ways, featuring social media platforms as the central focus. Contests, promotions and customer involvement like posting pictures to Instagram all seek to put the power of consumerism where it belongs: in the hands of the consumer. In order to do so, new jobs specializing in specific areas of social media are being created at a rapid pace. According to Simply Hired, social media job postings have increased 38% since late 2011.
…and what the landscape will look like.
The future of social media as a marketing tool includes a grassroots sensibility and a real return to the credo of “the customer is always right.” The customer will have the power to choose what type of marketing they want to participate in. When someone sees something they like out in the world, the first thing they typically do in an attempt to find it is “Google it.” Marketers will have to shift their focus from selling consumers something they do not need to helping customers find what they want as quickly and efficiently as possible. Social media marketing will become permission based in the form of asking for a retweet or a “like,” and consumers will participate in a marketing campaign because they truly want to and have genuine interest in what a company has to say. Marketers will need to look at ways to streamline their social media focus in order to reach their customer base in such a way that it pulls them in quickly and, not only holds their interest, but keeps it, at their choosing.