Are you a Facebook addict? Do you spend an insane amount of hours following what’s trending on Twitter? Do you Instagram or Pin everything you do? If so, you might want to start looking into getting a job in the Social Media industry.

HackCollege Guide: Launching a Career in Online Marketing

Why Social Media?

More and more companies are realizing the importance of social media in their marketing efforts and they need fresh, innovative people to help them utilize sites like Facebook and Twitter to their full potential.

Also, while you can go to the University of Florida and take part in their new social media program, you don’t necessarily have to spend a ton of money on a degree to get a job in social media. This is one field where your knowledge, experience, and ability can outweigh a degree.

But a job in social media is about more than just publishing Facebook posts or pinning images. Just like every other industry, social media has its own jargon, required skills, and technical requirements. Since this is a fairly new career path, a lot of students aren’t exactly sure how to get started. Here are some tips to help you jump into a career in social media.

Become Digital-Media Savvy

No, I don’t mean just learning a bunch of buzzwords. You have to develop an actual understanding of digital media, such as why click-through rates are important, how to create link bait, and being able to name more than five social media sites. You should understand terms like social publishing, social commerce, and social entertainment.

Since what we know about digital media is constantly evolving, you have to be on top of all of the newest techniques and trends.

Develop Your Own Profiles

If you want to help companies build their social following, it helps if you can show that you can build your own pages up on different networks. Just having a bunch of friends on Facebook won’t suffice.

Show that you have an actual following on different platforms and have established your own brand. Do people retweet you? Do you get a ton of +1’s on your Google+ posts? Do you have a good Klout score? All of these factors will help you become a more attractive candidate in the social media industry. Most companies will do a thorough examination of your social media use before hiring you.

Start a Blog

You might be wondering what a blog has to do with social media. But the two actually go hand-in-hand. Companies looking for social media managers or coordinators want people who are great writers, and a blog is a great way to showcase your writing skills.

In particular, you want to be able to show that you can write content that’s grammatically correct, engaging, and is properly optimized for search engines (discussed next). You should be using social media outlets to push traffic to your blog so you can add it to your portfolio to show employers that you know how to use social media to drive traffic to a website or landing page.

Related7 Simple Steps For Starting A Personal Blog Using WordPress

Start Learning SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO), is all about making content more attractive to search engines — Google and Bing — in order to achieve the top search result. Social media plays a huge role in SEO, and it’s important that you know how to implement it into a search campaign.

There are plenty of sites that will help you learn the basics. Search Engine Journal is a great resource for up-to-date tips and best practices, and Search Engine Land has a great overview of what SEO is all about.

Understand Digital Advertising

Social media sites typically make most or all of their money through advertisements. Every single one of the major social networking platforms either have advertising platforms for companies or are working on developing them. You’re going to be expected to know how to use these different platforms, which will require you to have a solid grasp of advertising online.

That means understanding how to use images and write compelling headlines. I’d recommend reading Ca$hvertising to learn about creating great ads.

Understanding the different metrics that companies use to measure the success of a social media campaign will be important as well. The specific metrics used might differ from company to company, but what’s important is that you know how to interpret and convey analytical data.

Online advertising pretty much revolves around analyzing data from different programs, and it will undoubtedly be a big part of your job duties.

Practice with the Tools of the Trade

Most companies use a variety of software to manage their social media efforts. But the tools companies want you to use go beyond strictly social media management ones. Some programs you should get familiar with are:

Some companies will also want you to be familiar with HTML, CSS, and other programming languages. W3Schools is a great place to learn coding fundamentals and check for site errors. Most schools also have classes you can take to learn more about web design.

Look for Internships

Using social media for personal use is a lot different than using it to promote a company. Some things are obvious like not tweeting about how wasted you got last night, but it does go beyond that.

For example, as I mentioned above, you need to know how to use the different advertising platforms on each social media platform. The best way to learn this is by getting experience with an actual company.

Being able to add professional experience to your resume will really make you more desirable to perspective employers. If you were able to boost referral traffic from social media by 80% for a company you interned for, it helps show that you know what you’re doing.

The downside about social media-related internships is that a lot of them are unpaid. Don’t be surprised if a lot of the job openings from companies that are unwilling to pay, instead offer you “experience.” But don’t underestimate that experience, as it can be invaluable.

RelatedBay Area Internships — Look for Startups, Skip Corporate New York

What Should You Major In?

Unlike some other professions, social media-related jobs are pretty flexible in terms of what degrees are desirable. You could get a degree in:

But according to Justin Bank, editor at the Washington Post, the type of degree you have isn’t really that important. Justin has interviewed hundreds of people for social media related jobs, and he said this about the importance of a degree:

“I don’t really care about the degree as much as the work experience. All a degree says to me is that someone can think critically and (hopefully) write. The specifics are kinda meh.”

What Jobs Can You Get?

According to job site Indeed, the “Social Media Manager” role is diminishing; however, that doesn’t mean that jobs in social media are dying. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The same article notes that “jobs with social media in the title grew by 50% over the last year.”  Also, jobs listings with the term social media in the description increased by almost 90%.

What’s happening is companies are delegating social media duties to different people within the organization, typically within the marketing department. Instead of having just one person that manages all the aspects of social media, companies are divvying the responsibilities and expect everyone to be somewhat social media savvy.

The book Social Media Marketing by Tracy Tuten and Michael Solomon has a 2 page long table with different jobs in social media. They include:

  • Social Media Editor
  • Social Media Marketing Manager
  • Marketing and Communications Associate
  • Project Social Media Manager
  • Social Media Communications Manager
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Online Communications and Social Media Director
  • Social Media Communications Specialist
  • Social Media Strategist

A lot of the duties overlap, and this certainly isn’t a comprehensive list. A lot of companies combine social media, SEO, and blog management all into one position since their so closely related. You can run a quick search on Indeed, Career Builder, or other job board sites to see more social media-related positions.

Get Started

The best part about starting a career in social media is that you can get started on your own. Create a blog, explore all the different social media sites out there besides the well-known ones, and start learning more about digital media.


Images (edited): Roger BraunsteinRob Lawton