When something big happens in your life (or maybe just when you have a really, really good lunch) do you:
A. Tell someone about it later?
B. Tell someone right away with a phone call or text message?
C. Immediately broadcast it via tweet or status update (or both)?
If you chose C, then chances are you live a large portion of your life online through various social media platforms.
Since you already do so much living online, how about working here, too?
Social media as a career field is fairly new and continuously evolving. Some typical titles for social media workers:
- Content Manager
- Social Media Manager
- Social Media Intern
- Social Media Specialist
- Social Media Director
- Social Media Strategist
- Social Media Coordinator
- Social Media Account Manager
- Social Media Analyst
- Social Media Product Manager
Bear in mind that these positions are far from established. Duties associated with a title will vary from company to company. A content manager at one company, for instance, may have duties very similar to social media specialist at another. Check out descriptions on job postings for specifics.
In general, social media professionals (this is not, by any means, a complete list):
- Write, update and edit content, including blog posts, marketing copy, tweets, Facebook updates and website copy.
- Implement and manage social media strategies.
- Recruit and work with outside writers and blogger.
- Evaluate the success of social media efforts using various measures.
Here are a handful of tips for preparing yourself for a career in social media:
Be a Super User
It’s not enough to be an occasional social media user. If you want to work in the field, you need to be a super user.
Choose three or four core social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin, for instance – and maintain profiles (appropriate public profiles!) and keep them updated.
Use social media to connect with people, learn things and share ideas.
Become an Expert
If you want to work in social media, you need to go from user to expert. Take your social media know-how to the next level.
- Read everything you can about the most widely used social media platforms (for instance: Facebook blog, Twitter blog, Google blog and other social media blogs).
- Stay up to date on the latest changes in existing platforms and what is going on with emerging platforms.
You also need to be an expert on how to most effectively use social media.
- Check out and evaluate how other people use it professionally.
- Figure out what, in your opinion, works and what doesn’t … and why.
But don’t just follow the pack, innovate and build on the successful strategies you see. Develop your own best practices and set yourself apart.
In addition, research fields and companies in which you could see yourself working. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and check out their websites and blogs.
Learn About Marketing
Social media workers are in the marketing business – they market products, brands, companies, websites, images, ideas.
- Study up on digital marketing, SEO and writing for social media.
- Start to look at social media differently.
Sure, it’s a great way to communicate and share in your personal life, but, when used skillfully and with an objective, it becomes a powerful marketing tool. Learn how to harness that power.
Build Professional Experience
Using social media in your personal life is good and well, but you’ll need some professional experience if you want to wow a prospective employer. To gain experience:
- Look for opportunities to volunteer in a capacity that uses your social media skills (check with local nonprofits and charity organizations).
- Offer your services pro bono to a friend or family member who runs a business.
- Look for social media internships (some of these are paid!).