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How to Get a Job in Social Media

Tweet and tumblr your way into this growing industry

These days, every marketing effort has some aspect of social. Whether it’s pushing content via Twitter and Facebook, sharing the company’s unique culture on Instagram or fostering community engagement, social media jobs are growing faster than ever.

Here’s a look at some of the jobs in the social media world and how to get your hands on one.

Starting Out: Entry-Level

If you’re fresh out of college and know a thing or two about social media, especially if you blog, you may be a great candidate for a gig such as social media coordinator or social media specialist.

“On an entry-level position, what you’ll see these days are people that are fresh out of college,” says Hilary O’Keefe, senior communications manager at Core77 Design Awards. “The ones that really know it inside out, it makes them valuable for these companies.”

Prospective employers often browse through the complete social presence of an applicant before looking at their resume in order to screen candidates.

What does that mean? They want to see that you are professional and that you can write well. That translates into being able to promote a specific company, or in an agency setting, being able to get the word out effectively about their clients.

A common entry-level position is social media coordinator, who is responsible for drafting and posting content including tweets and status messages. The coordinator is often also responsible for setting up alerts to manage responses and monitoring what is being said about clients, and works with management to set the strategy for how to respond.

Ken Wisnefski, owner of the online marketing agency Webimax, also says his company turns to recent graduates to fill most social media positions, and then trains them on proper ways to use it. As the industry evolves, he says that the “new” employees will be the real pioneers of the field.

Moving Up: The Management Level

If you want to work your way up in social media specifically, you’re ideally going for a social media director or social media manager title.

Management-level roles for social media professionals are often more focused on the strategy of social media and less about posting status messages—like determining which Facebook pages to like or which Twitter handles to follow. Above that, setting the overall social media strategy, is often a director.

Responsibilities vary depending on the employer’s or client’s needs. For example, some may focus more on contests to promote products, and others involve knowing more about competitors and more actively getting the word out to make sure a client can effectively compete.

For management jobs, companies are looking for people who are dedicated to blogging, know how to write well, can use Facebook and other social media tools, learn and adapt quickly and also understand concepts like search engine optimization.

A bachelor’s degree in a creative field such as communications, English or advertising can help and is often a requirement. To make it on an oversight level, having previous experience managing projects—and being able to demonstrate results, even if it wasn’t specifically with social media—are crucial.

Social Media and Traditional Marketing

One of the nice things about starting out strictly in a social media job is that a person gains valuable skills in traditional marketing. This can help propel your career, whether you stay in social media or not.

O’Keefe’s job as online marketing manager incorporates social media, but also traditional marketing techniques. “It takes a little more experience understanding the basic of marketing,” she says.

Not all social media jobs require a marketing background, especially entry-level ones. But after working a few years in the entry-level field, which can include other interesting positions such as community managers, a candidate can likely move to a social media director role—or they can leverage that background into another marketing, advertising or communications position.

“You still get a marketing background if you want to move onward,” O’Keefe notes.

She adds that the higher up you go, the more understanding and appreciation for traditional marketing is required. O’Keefe says if you start in social media out of college, you look at the trends of how people pass along information.

For example, “It could be a fantastic entryway to consumer research.” So you don’t necessarily have to continue your career strictly in the social media realm; other possibilities exist.

Find a Social Media Job

1. Think Outside the Job Board Box. Start with the Mediabistro job board, and then check out sites like Mashable for a nice selection of industry-specific sites gigs.

2. Look for Related Positions. O’Keefe says that jobs in the field don’t always have “social media” in their titles, so keep an eye out for variations, like “link builder” and “community manager,” which often incorporate the same duties.

3. Let the Gatekeepers Find You. If you build it—an awesome and professional online presence, that is—they will come. Market yourself as an expert in the field through your own Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr pages.

4. Follow the Leaders. Find out who has the job you want and friend them. That’s the best way to find out about news in the field, and most importantly, potential openings.

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