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4 Things You Need to Know About Working in Social Media

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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. And 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 handling any complaints or issues that may arise both efficiently and calmly.

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 outside the box when it comes to using social media to promote goals.

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

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

A great resume 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, since 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 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 get to 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 first get started in this career, don’t mistake this communication as one-sided. Because the industry is ever-changing, you will discover new ways to innovate the social space, and your company, as well as the connections you’ve made, will give you the platform to share your insights. Social media is an industry 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 industry?

Megan Brown is the Social Media Strategist at iAcquire, a digital marketing firm specializing in SEO, reputation management, content marketing, digital public relations, and social media marketing. You can find her on Twitter (@thatgirlmegan or @thatgirlondeck) as well as tweeting on behalf of @iAcquire.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=317752194950479 Alison Elissa Coaching

    Interesting to read your perspective on the industry as someone working in social media. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003851922843 Zornitsa Stefanova

    It’s an interesting and so true perspective. Social media really expects you to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
    Ps. If someone looks at social media as a job opportunity can check this out:
    http://social-media-training-courses.co.uk/jobs/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664005190 Zach W Thoren

    As a community manager, I find this all to be accurate. I work for a small company and I am our online voice. I run campaigns, track and reply 24/7, and do countless other marketing, design, etc tasks. One thing I’d add here is that it really helps to know some basic design principles, have some photoshop knowledge, and be able to AT LEAST read some HTML. You really need to have a balance of designer, entrepreneur, blogger AND PR Pro. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=188461537811 SOCIAL ACTIVIST

    Great article and I echo the statement of being on deck 24/7!

  • http://twitter.com/SocialWannabe The Social Wannabe

    Excellent article! You mentioned two main social media job titles: Social Strategist and Community Manager. I found an article that listed 41 different titles. How should one go about browsing for jobs with so many different ways to search for openings? Here is the link that listed the titles: http://jobsearch.about.com/od/job-title-samples/a/social-media-job-titles.htm

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  • gergana

    To work in a social media you just not need some education. In my opinion you should have heart that understands everything which others are sharing. Working in social media iis some kind of an art work.

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  • anon

    Is it advisable for a student (taking up law) to have a part time job on a social media department?