Much like computer gaming and hacking did before it, social media has evolved over the past 10 years from a pastime to an emerging career field. Companies have come to recognize that discussions about their products are happening online, and it is in their best interest to have representatives engaged in these conversations. Now considered a key component in marketing plans, social media marketing has earned its place in many a corporate budget.
For recruiters trying to fill social strategist positions, though, the process of matching qualified candidates to appropriate jobs is still in its infancy. Though salaries are competitive, with full-time jobs paying from $45,000 to six figures, truly qualified candidates are hard to find – and those that do present themselves frequently fail to give recruiters what they need to sell them up the ladder.
The following are tips for selling yourself as a qualified candidate for social media-related jobs – and justifying your job once you’re employed.
Career Paths in Social Media
Most professionals working in social media are freelance consultants. Those that are employed commonly have public relations, corporate communications, or other traditional marketing job titles. However, progressive companies are carving new Web 2.0 job titles out of their hard-earned social media experience. Here are some that are more easily found on job sites:
Social Media Strategist – Also called Social Strategists or Digital Strategists, these high-level analysts create marketing campaigns that maximize, and indeed pioneer, the potential of social media. They typically work for larger corporations, supervising a social media team. At the top of the career path, these positions pay top dollar.
Community Manager – Overseeing company blogs and forums, these managers specialize in outreach through social sites. Their primary responsibilities are to generate traffic and protect brands by moderating conversations. These positions can pay around 100k.
Brand Ambassador – The job title of brand ambassador can mean many different things from wearing a branded t-shirt to Twittering your heart out. With more than 4,000 brand ambassador jobs listed on Indeed, this job is one of the most popular social media job descriptions, with salaries ranging from $20,000 to $100,000.
Blogger – Corporate bloggers write short articles on newsworthy topics, editorial perspectives, or guidance in order to attract links from websites that get a lot of traffic from customers within the target market. They may also write guest posts on other blogs to draw traffic back to their employer’s site. A journalism background is recommended but not necessary if you have a blog that shows off what you can do and has decent traffic. Typically, bloggers make $35 to $75 an hour.
Social Media Analyst – Using data-driven marketing strategies, social media analysts develop, maintain. and monitor the success of social media programs. They use existing tools or create effective ways to measure, assess, and report the status of social media presence and the return on investment of social activities. Typical salaries are between 50 and 100k.
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Social Media Marketing Specialist – Similar to the more traditional marketing specialist role, social media marketing specialists create and distribute marketing materials through social media channels. The average salary is in the low 50s.
Search Engine Marketing Associate – A lot of strategy goes into improving a company’s placement in natural (unpaid) search engine results. SEM associates use social media to build brand presence and increase the rank of their website content in Google and other search engines. The majority of SEM associates have five or fewer years of experience and make up to 50k. Those with more experience typically make between 50 and 100k.
Online Customer Service Representative – This entry-level role fulfills the need of a company to monitor social sites for customer concerns and manage them. A combination of call center experience and good writing skills can make you an ideal job candidate.
Applying for (and Keeping) Social Media Jobs
Seek employers with social media presence – Although you may consider yourself to be on a social media career path, many employers still consider social media to be more of a skill set than a career (or they may think of social media as something that doesn’t require skill). A good indicator of how seriously a company takes their social media strategy is their existing presence on the Web:
- Look for well-developed networks, advertising, and brand messages on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter
- Keep an eye out for news stories and press releases related to social media activity
- Consider how interactive their website is with blogs, video, forums, and follow and share options
- Search sites like LinkedIn for social media job titles, and look to see who employs the people who come up in the search results.
Leverage your brand – Your expertise in social media should be reflected in your resume, cover letter, interviews, and portfolio. Have a solid Web presence including your own brand site such as www.yourname.com. When writing introductory emails (instead of cover letters), get down to business, keeping it short and sweet. Tweak your resume to a concise overview of your skills, using words that have focus, impact, and meaning. Show off your personality and professionalism in interviews.
Know the territory – The more you can show that you’ve been heavily involved in social media, have solid experience in running online forums, and can draw people in and motivate them to participate, the more employable you will be. Emphasize your background in marketing, Web publishing, project management, journalism, copywriting, and computer technology for a competitive advantage. (Being fluently bilingual is a big plus.)
Defend your position – Because social media careers are so new, and can be easily outsourced, it’s important to demonstrate how your work is paying off for your employer:
- Formalize a program with long term direction, focusing primarily on business objectives rather than the latest technologies
- Establish credibility and measure success with reports that can quantify increases in traffic and retention, make good use of testimonials and positive comments from followers, and become an expert in helping others interpret the importance of Web metrics
- Sell the benefits of social media to higher ups by tracking industry analysts and trends in order to negotiate the budget you need
- Anticipate growing demand and be prepared to handle increasing numbers of requests from vocal customers
- Take your role in ambassadorship seriously with both internal customers and external ones; share your enthusiasm for social media with other employees, inspiring them to use it to feel more connected to fellow workers and the company in general
- Integrate your other marketing and creative skills into your position to make yourself uniquely qualified, and make an effort to involve other departments in social media initiatives
- Be a risk taker but assess your risks carefully and ask for strong backing from senior managers
Author:- Ellen Berry writes about careers in marketing, among other topics related to education and careers, for BrainTrack.com.