You’ll often hear people ask the question 'what do you do for work?’.
And the answer ‘social media’ ….
But what does that actually involve and what skills are needed to develop a career in social media?
There are plenty of job titles out there - and the list is ever evolving, Meta is particularly hot right now! - here are some of the most common social media roles:
social media managers, community managers, content marketing, paid social manager, direct communication specialists, communication directors, engagement coordinators and public relations supervisors.
All of these job roles handle similar tasks, let’s delve into what those tasks might be.
There's more to it than cat memes and pretty pictures
There is a common misconception that most of the jobs in social media simply involve posting pretty pictures and videos on the various social media platforms. That’s not actually true.
Many of the roles listed above will involve some or all of these responsibilities:
As you might be rightfully thinking, a career in social media requires left and right brain functions. The good thing is that you get to be creative, plus you also get to be analytical looking at results to see what went right, what could be changed, and always be testing.
“Perhaps the best piece of advice I could give to someone starting out in their career in digital is to always be testing.” - Maryrose Lyons
We are quite simply coming down in data and if we do not use every opportunity of engaging with our audience to discover more of what they like, what excites them and what doesn’t - then it’s a wasted opportunity.
What are businesses looking for when they hire new graduates?
To answer this question, we need to first consider why do businesses invest in social media?
1. Social media increases brand recognition so it can get the companies’ voice heard by a wider audience, extending their outreach.
2. Effective social media also increases the number of opportunities a company has to reach out and target new customers.
3. Social media also provides a cost-effective campaign solution as it allows businesses to communicate faster, more often and with greater relevance to their target audience.
4. It improves customer insights as the platforms provide extensive analytics on who is viewing and engaging with their content, thus providing more opportunities and ideas to engage.
We ran some research during the summer of 2021 to find out exactly what employers expect new graduate hires to be able to do, and the answer is - everything!
If a career in social media sounds appealing to you, you need to consider the skills needed to succeed in roles and a career in social media.
7 Skills To Succeed At Social Media Roles - How Many Have You Got?
- Being able to write. According to Forbes, 99% of customer communication will be in writing so it is important that you have excellent written communication skills and are able to come up with engaging and sharply written content quickly. This is why we love Arts Graduates at Brightspark because they are able to write.
- Research. It is important that you keep on top of all trends on social media. This includes trending content as well as changes to the algorithms the platforms are based on. Discover the thought leaders in the spaces that you are interested in, and follow them.
- Practice. Practicing these new ideas. See for yourself if they work for you, or your employer or clients. If there’s one piece of advice you take from this, that will stand to you for your career, it is this: continuous learning. Just because you’ve finished formal education, don’t think that’s it in terms of your learning! Oh no! You are only just beginning.
- Google. You don’t have to be a total expert but some basic knowledge of SEO will take you a long way. A good social media manager makes good content, but a great social media manager strives to optimise all that content so that it reaches the largest possible target audience. Another point along the same lines is to be very familiar with Google Analytics. Know your way around a Google Analytics report and be able to explain it to someone like a boss is a good skill to have. Google has a great online learning resource called the Google Analytics Academy. Access it here.
- WordPress. WordPress is another tool that will help you succeed in digital marketing. While you’re focused on social, you still need to be able to run around a website and make updates when needed. WordPress is used by most many businesses to power their backend. It’s worthwhile getting the hang of WordPress so you can discover how to keep your websites and posts as creative as possible.
- Customer Service. This one may be less obvious but consumers often look to social media to gain information and ask questions about a company. According to Help Scout, 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company after a bad social media experience with them. So if part of your role involves community engagement, you’ve got to be en pointe with your customer service skills. Another thing to keep in mind about community engagement is knowing the best way to respond to customers. Knowing when to hide comments, or when to respond with engaging questions to keep the conversation going. Also, when to take it off social and into the DM’s.
- Knowledge of social media. This is somewhat a given but it is essential that you have a good understanding of social media. The most important things to know are:
- What types of content work most effectively for each platform
- How to engage your target audience
- How the algorithms work (sorting posts based on relevancy instead of publish time)
So how can you gain these skills to launch your career in digital and social media marketing?
A degree in areas such as Journalism, Public Relations or Marketing can help, but many employers will tell you that it’s the willingness to learn that is of the utmost importance. So whether your degree was in History or English, Music or Maths, there is a role for you and you will truly have an amazing digital marketing career.
Of course you can learn what you need by tapping into the many courses that are available.
The Google Analytics and WordPress courses are good starting points. You might also want to check out Facebook Blueprint courses to learn the basics of paid social ads.
But our best advice is not to rely solely on free and YouTube for your learning!
We have a great crash course in digital marketing for College and University students and recent graduates to help them fill the gap between what employers expect and what they can do. It runs a couple of times a year. If you would like us to let you know when the next one is running, drop your details down below and we'll be sure to let you know when the next one is coming.