If you are a Twitter pro, a Pinterest queen, Instagram expert, or YouTube prodigy, you might consider turning your passion into a career. We now live in a world where you can get paid for tweeting, “liking”, and uploading—most businesses need a professional to monitor and manage their social media activity on several formats.
Companies large and small are looking for experts who can help represent their brand and increase online visibility through the use of social media. If you want to turn your mad networking skills into a viable career, keep reading for a few tips to help you land an awesome social media specialist position.
Although you might be a pro with hashtags, uploading videos, and tagging pictures, it is still a good idea to take classes and use resources to learn the business side of social media. Running the social media platforms for a business is very different than managing a personal account. You’ll need training on the best way to present and promote a business from a social media standpoint.
Believe it or not, there are college courses and even entire degrees devoted to the study of social media. If you are a college student, look into the courses offered at your university. If you aren’t able to get a degree in social media specialization, you can take single courses in online marketing, social media, and even computer technology to help improve your skills and knowledge.
If you are already out of college, you can still find classes and resources that will help you learn the ropes of business-related social media. For example, Moz offers a beginner’s guide to social media management that covers the basics as well as specific methods for different platforms (LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, blogging, etc.) If you want to learn more about HTML and coding, you can use sites like w3Schools and Codecademy for coding tutorials and training—for free!
Don’t be a One-Trick Pony
Part of working in the field of social media is knowing about the channel and how to connect with people by using it. If you are looking for a general job related to social media, then consider obtaining a degree in communications or a related program. While having niche-specific knowledge can help to make you a valuable candidate for a social media position, you don’t want to limit yourself to being just the “Twitter guy” or the “Facebook girl.” The more skills you can gain across the board, the more appealing you’ll be to potential employers. If you are really good with social networking sites, you might consider brushing up on blogging, or YouTube to be sure you are a well-rounded candidate.
Work on Your Communication Skills
No matter what your degree is, you need to know how to interact with people. Although social media doesn’t require much face-to-face interaction, it does require a real, living, breathing human behind the keyboard. Companies don’t want to sound like a robot—they want to use social media to connect with their consumers in a genuine way. This is why communication skills are an asset for anyone seeking this type of job.
Start getting your feet wet by bringing an interactive blog to life, or through working at your college radio station. Interpersonal skills are important when you’ll be acting as a major liaison between customers and the business, so you want to have proof of your abilities on your resume. Even if you get experience on a small scale, getting real experience shows employers that you can actually apply your skills to a real cause.
Use Social Media Actively
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but 37% of employers will look at your social profile when screening for a potential job—that’s for any job, not just one that is related to social media. Just as a school wants to hire teachers who have actually taught in a classroom before, so do businesses want to hire social media experts who truly know what they are doing. If you don’t have many social media accounts, or you hardly ever interact on them, it will be tough to convince employers that you love social media.
If you claim to be passionate about the online social sphere, but have lack luster social media activity, employers are going to think that you are just looking for a job and don’t actually have an interest in the field. It’s also important to remember that the content that you post on your social media platforms might also deter future employers, so be careful about what you post—you never know who is watching.
Build a Portfolio
Even if you are a shining example of successful social media on your personal accounts, you need to compile a portfolio that will impress potential employers. You might need to get creative, but finding small campaigns that will allow you to try your hand at social media management will give you something to show an employer in an interview.
For example, if your friend is starting a local baking business and needs help advertising, offer to start up a social media site to get the conversation started. If your community is hosting a clothing drive, spread the word and reach out to volunteers through social media. Although these might seem like small experiences, you are showing employers that you can properly promote an organization or cause using social media.
Your portfolio can consist of screenshots of some of your best work, and compiled reports that show the Return on Investment. Even if your work looks good, employers will want to know how many followers you gained, how many people attended your publicized event, or if the company increased customers because of your social media campaign. Show employers the numbers as well as the actual work, and you’ll show that you have real experience with social media—even if it is on a small scale.
Some people view social media as a game that kids use to interact with one another, but you want to show prospective employers that you know it’s much more serious than that. Stay up-to-date on the latest news involving social media and take the time to involve yourself in practical and serious discussions that take place on these avenues. You need to be able to discuss the latest trends and issues in the industry, and show employers that you can do more than just take selfies and gain followers. Follow sites like Social Media Examiner that will keep you up to date on changes in the industry so that you can approach social media as a marketing tool rather than a form of entertainment.
As you can see, landing a job as a social media specialist will take more than just getting 100 “likes” on your latest photo or blog post. You need to learn the lingo, follow the trends, expand your skill set, and present a professional front for employers. Show employers that you know your stuff, but that you are creative enough to help the company get a return on their investment when it comes to using social media. Add a few of the skills above to your arsenal, and pretty soon you might be bringing home a paycheck for tweeting, posting pictures, and hashtagging your heart out.
About the author: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer from Arizona who loves to write for business, technology, and social media. Dixie got her advice for this article from the professionals at the University of Florida who offer a social media marketing degree for students looking to break into this industry.