7 Tips to Land a Career in Social Media Marketing
Even the most serious social media marketers will tell you that, on paper, their job looks easy. The cultural perception is that social media marketers spend their days “playing” on social media, in the same way that individuals on Facebook scroll through an endless newsfeed of interesting information and amusing updates from friends.
The truth is, social media marketing is demanding—from the moment you try to pursue it as a career field. Because social media is still a growing field, demand for marketers is high, but there’s also an overabundance of professionals competing for these open spots. If you want a shot at starting a career in this ever-growing field, there are some things you should know.
First things first; you need to understand that there are a number of circulating misconceptions about what social media marketing is or isn’t:
- SMM isn’t easy. SMM might seem like an easy job, but it requires attention, creativity, and patience to be successful.
- SMM isn’t entry level. SMM isn’t something you can improvise your way through; you’ll need at least some basic understanding of marketing principles to be successful.
- Being young doesn’t give you an inherent advantage. There’s a stereotype that only young people can be successful in social media, but this isn’t true; older people can make for excellent marketers, and some young people make terrible marketers.
- SMM shouldn’t be treated as an experiment. SMM isn’t a fad, and isn’t something for businesses to invest in on a whim. It requires concentration and a long-term focus to be successful.
- SMM is objective, rather than subjective. Successful campaigns aren’t built on instincts or guesswork; they’re driven by data and objective results.
If you understand these misconceptions and still want to progress your SMM career, follow these tips to get ahead:
- Build a personal social media presence. There’s nothing more impressive to people looking for social media marketers than to see someone with a pre-established following. Imagine being able to reference 10,000 followers on your job application. Unfortunately, it’s going to take some time to build a following that size—but it can be done. Start by fleshing out your social media profiles, and start connecting with everyone you meet. Post new content regularly, at least multiple times a day, and keep your followers engaged by asking questions and starting conversations. Eventually, you’ll build a reputation for yourself.
- Talk to people in the industry. While you’re out networking in an attempt to build your following, make sure to talk to some people who are already in the industry. Find a social media marketer or two who have spent a few months or years building their careers, and ask them about their experience. You may be able to find a lead for a new job, or at least get some tips on how to better present yourself.
- Dress professionally for the interview. It’s an incorrect stereotype that all social marketers are easygoing in casual dress. When you show up for your interview, make sure you’re wearing business attire, preferably with custom-fitted clothing. Your interview is the only chance you’ll have to make a first impression, so don’t let sloppy dress interfere with your chances.
- Get some experience under your belt. Before you start applying for jobs seriously, try to get some experience under your belt. Any marketing and advertising experience you gain will improve your odds, so if you get the chance to take on a marketing internship or part-time job, take it. If you get the chance to work as an assistant or intern for a full-time social media manager, that’s even better.
- Come to the interview with recommendations and a strategy. SMM is made or broken based on the individual tactics used to bolster a campaign. It’s a highly strategy-intensive job, and social marketers are expected to come up with new ideas on a near-constant basis. Accordingly, it’s impressive to come to the interview with some ideas in mind; present your recommendations for how the company should develop their strategy, including some ideas for new content, to set yourself apart.
- Prepare for a long-term career. If you want to be successful and make an impression with employers, you can’t treat SMM as a temporary, fun gig. You have to treat it as a long-term career, being open to learning and developing yourself along the way. It’s fine if your long-term goals diverge from the social media path, but treating social media as a fleeting interest won’t make a positive impression with prospective employers.
- Have a backup plan. If you struggle with finding an external career in social media, you’ll want to have some kind of backup plan. That might mean pursuing a different niche in the marketing realm, or pursuing social media by building your own business.
SMM isn’t a fad, and it isn’t the easygoing job it’s illustrated to be. But with the right mentality, and significant personal investment, almost anyone with a marketing background has a shot at being successful.
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