4 things to know about having a social media career

If you want to succeed in the industry, you have to know more than just how to talk in 140 characters. A social media strategist shares her tips.

You can’t eat a meal without Instagramming it. You’re the Foursquare mayor of every room in your apartment. Once—a day you will remember forever—@shaq retweeted you.

Yep, you’re pretty much addicted to social media. Wouldn’t it be great if you not only got to use social media endlessly but also had the opportunity to design and implement creative campaigns and strategies—and get paid to do it?

It doesn’t hurt that “social media” is a buzzword in, well, pretty much every industry. That means the job market is full of companies looking to hire someone for their social media. It could be you. However, there are a few things you need to know first.

As the social media strategist at iAcquire, I’m going to dish some inside information on what you need to know about having a career in social media.

1. Understand different facets of social media careers.

Working in social media isn’t just writing clever tweets. It’s a lot more than that, and there are different facets to these kinds of jobs. Some of these positions are separate, but often if you’re working at a smaller company, you’ll fill several of these roles:

Community manager: Community managers both internally and externally build a reputation for the company and extend its reach online. This includes creating a Twitter chat for your industry or company to lead, organizing offline networking events, moderating and participating in a forum your organization runs, and more. Most community managers are excellent at emulating the company voice as well as efficiently and calmly handling any complaints or issues that may arise.

Social strategist: As a social strategist, you’ll create social campaigns and strategies to meet certain goals for your organization (or, if you work at an agency, your organization’s clients). You will need to know how to track success on social media and target social messaging for audiences. Social strategists should be able to take advantage of tools that improve audience engagement, know how to use and interpret analytics tools, and be able to think innovatively when using social media to promote goals.

You can also look into other social media roles such as content programmers, bloggers, social networking analysts and social media developers to decide which is the best fit for you.

2. Getting a job in social media requires more than just an impressive résumé.

A great résumé helps, but when you’re interviewing for a social media position, you need to bring your A-game. Companies are looking for someone who can not only speak to a community online, but who are also personable and social offline, because you may be meeting with clients and attending conferences or events.

You’ll also want to display your creativity; doing so in your cover letter or elsewhere in your application can boost you to the top of the interview list. (Here’s a good example of how one Brazen Careerist contributor used her creativity to land a social media manager position.) Use good judgment, and be natural. Don’t be too out there. Trying too hard or appearing insane will turn off potential employers.

Be prepared to answer questions on the spot as to what you would do for that company to improve their social presence. The best candidates already come with suggestions as to how to boost a company’s social success.

3. Expect to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week—but get major perks.

Social media doesn’t sleep. This doesn’t mean you don’t get any shut-eye, but it does mean that you should be prepared to handle whatever comes at you, even if you’re not in the office.

Crisis situations and customer complaints should be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. Don’t jump the gun on resolving what could be a volatile situation—if necessary, call your boss. It might be the weekend, but he will appreciate that you asked for his input before making a rash decision.

However, not everything you handle in your off hours will be negative. Your company hired you to work in social media, so they want you to be social. You might get to travel to attend social media conferences and networking events to meet and learn from others in your industry. Also, if your company is hosting an event, you will be the eyes and ears for those unable to attend.

4. Harness the power to innovate and inspire others in your industry.

Although you may be learning from other social media professionals when you get started, don’t mistake this communication as one-sided. Because the industry is ever changing, you will discover new ways to innovate the social space; your company, as well as the connections you’ve made, will give you the platform to share your insights. Social media is a field in which you not only get to participate and create, but also shape the future.

What attracts you to a social media career? What other questions do you have about the job or field?

Megan Brown is the social media strategist at iAcquire. You can find her on Twitter (@thatgirlmegan or @thatgirlondeck) as well as tweeting on behalf of @iAcquire. This article first appeared on Brazen Life, a career blog for young professionals.

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