Social media seems like an easy and appealing career, right? You usually work from home, and all you have to do is be yourself.
Not so fast, buckaroo. Before you go charging off on your quest for social media fame, there are a few things you need to know.
Social media professionals are in demand, but getting the really plum jobs can be challenging. Much like sales careers, you have to prove yourself before big companies–with big payrolls–will be willing to consider you. Here are some steps you can take to stand out from your competitors and land a prestigious job in social media.
- Build your own network: Your loyal followers are a big plus. If you have the personality to build a big network on your own, building a brand network should be easy. Plus, your followers will help you launch your career with the brand. An engaged following is a huge leg up on your competition, especially if you can point out that your audience fits the demographic of the business you’re applying to. If you want to work for a specific type of company, say retail fashion, cultivate a following heavy in young women.
- Protect your personal brand: Social media is built on personality. Potential employers will search for you on every social network. Your online presence should be consistent, professional and interesting across every platform. Post with reputation management in mind, and that includes minding what groups you join, who you interact with and what photos you’re tagged in. Potential employers really don’t need to know about that drunken college weekend in Cabo. Plenty of people lose their jobs for doing something horrible on social media or when a video ends up online (not safe for work– bad language).
- Include customer-service skills and experience: Contrary to popular opinion, social media is not only about delivering clever one-liners. As a social media professional representing a company, you are customer service, marketing and the face of the company. While you are not applying to be a face-to-face or field service representative, your customer-service skills must be on point. Customers will come to you with complaints, issues and kudos. The ability to respond professionally and de-escalate volatile confrontations is a critical social media skill.
- Build experience: Consider being an intern or volunteering for a business to build experience. Look for a charity, local politician, school or local business and offer to help out, or combine social media with a compatible job. For example, a company blog writer, receptionist or office assistant could volunteer to take on social media and build experience for the next move.
- Get cozy with analytics: Let’s be honest here–creatives aren’t always analytical thinkers. Numbers come hard to some of us. If your aim is to be a social media superstar, suck it up. The social media game is all about analytics. Sure, a big company will have people to analyze data and run numbers, but to do your job right, you need real-time analysis. You need to check the reaction on each post or tweet, figure out what works best and adjust your performance before anyone else sees it. With a basic understanding of analytics, you can show an upward trend instead of waiting for some numbers guy to tell you where you’re failing.
- Embrace the selfie: Some people are just terrible at selfies. It’s a skill that takes practice, and selfies are an inevitable part of social media presence. Practice until you can find your best angle and take the picture without fumbling, taking a photo of your finger or taking so long your phone battery dies while you’re trying to find the sun.
- Get certified: While you may not be able to get a college degree in social media (yet), you can get a social media certification by taking a comprehensive online course. Take advantage of any educational opportunity you can find. Classes and certifications look great on a resume and show employers you’re serious about your career.
Being a social media professional is a dream job for some people. Imagine working from anywhere and making a living on your wits alone. Who knew that being friendly would someday become a job classification?
It’s a job a lot of people would love to do, so competition can really be fierce. To land your dream job, make sure you stand out from everyone else.
Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering in the suburbs of Orlando. She is a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Follow her on Twitter: @SheriSaid.