How do I pursue a career in social media?
I am currently a junior in college majoring in Business Accounting and minoring in Public Relations. My interest has always been in social media, blogging, content management (I love writing), and a little bit of graphic design. I love being able to impact and influence other's lives through one of the most powerful tools we have today - social media.
However, I'm not sure how to go about this career. From my understanding, a lot of social media positions require a background in marketing and advertising - which some times requires a lot of strategizing and pitching. As creative as I am, I also enjoy a sense of routine and stability; I don't want to always have to meet marketing/advertising goals, as I find that to be extremely stressful.
Furthermore, I'm not sure what position(s) in the field would enable me to continue growing. It seems like Social Media Coordinator/Manager is just about as high as you can climb - and I want to pursue something that'll allow for me to make major advances in both a financial and skills standpoint. I was thinking maybe I could try to aim for a Communications Manager position?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Hi Kristine, it sounds like you are searching for clarity and direction for your career. These are all great questions and here are some recommendations to help with your search. The marketing and advertising industry is a vast and far reaching industry. You have access to many experts in the community. And once you are in the industry you will find supportive members to add to your network and possible leaders to become mentors. Here are some suggestions to help get you started.
1) Create a LinkedIn profile if you haven't already done so. Network, Network, Network. It is OK if you don't have all the answers and the experience, but LinkedIn is a great way to connect and network with professionals who are experts or leaders in Social Media. Go ahead and send a quick message to professionals you admire or share similar professional interests. Invite them to chat over the phone or for coffee and use this meeting as a means to interview them about the industry, the company they work for and what they love most about their role.
2) Secure or find an internship at an Marketing & Advertising Agency or Startup. This will give you real world experience. And even if the internship lasts for 1-2 months a) you will learn and gain so much from the experience, b) you will build you professional network and c) you will get some or most of your questions answered about pursuing a career in Social Media.
Here is a link to one of the leading Social Media startups:
- Sprinklr (https://www.sprinklr.com/)
- Startups in SF: (http://sanfrancisco.startups-list.com/startups/social_media%20marketing)
Also, here are links to 2 of the largest marketing and advertising agencies. They offer Summer internships for students interested in pursuing a career in this industry.
- Wunderman (http://www.wunderman.com/)
- Omnicom (https://www.omnicommediagroup.com/default.htm)
3) Do some homework and research regarding the company and industry. This will help answer some of your questions prior to reaching out to professionals or companies. The questions you are unable to answer, you can reach out on LinkedIn and get them answered. This will also help you clarify what your next steps and goals will be professionally.
Best of luck!
Get an internship - paid or unpaid - and work hard. That will help you get your first job. Keep in mind that careers in marketing, communications, or other digital roles all have applicable in-roads to social media.
Also, keep using and exploring social daily. The more use use it the better you'll get.
Heather recommends the following next steps:
Whichever platform you choose to start with, the next most important thing is to be authentic and unique! Take time to consume content to see what works and doesn’t work then find your niche in something you’re passionate in. My original goal was to use social as a means of increasing my exposure for my professional golf career. It wasn’t until 2-3 years of consistent creating/sharing that I was able to see opportunities and turn social into my business. There is a lot more work behind the scenes than you think!
Many careers in social media take root in advertising agencies. There, you will learn a lot from colleagues and from the social networks themselves. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are often in advertising agencies in order to help with marketing strategies. They know their own platforms best and can draw on resources to help in developing those strategies.
That is not to say that social media careers only happen in ad agencies. Many companies also hire social media experts to support projects and to manage relationships with agencies, so that might be a path for you as well.
You were also concerned about progressing your career. With respect to that, if you can align the skills you develop in social media with how you can help your company solve business problems, you will be able to grow your career.
Over the years what i have found to be like the best match employers look for is to have a background in marketing and advertising, with some knowledge in graphic design tools. To higher you climb the more marketing knowledge you are going to require. Especially on the strategic end more than the creative one.
But the best tip i can give you and it always helps people get far in this business is to get hands on experience.
Start a Blog and write regularly, create memes, be around all social media platforms. Maybe build a brand around yourself. That causes the most impact on employers and has given me the edge over candidates with better "diplomas"