That’s right. For four years I’ve had to try to explain to people what it means to work as a Social Media Marketing Specialist for a company. And no, we don’t just sit on Facebook & Instagram the whole day. That’s only on Fridays.
Social Media Specialists are responsible for a variety of things, depending on the needs of the company. At a minimum, you can expect to post regular content on the companies social media platforms, and respond to and engage with clientele who reach out to the company’s social media profile. In many ways, you are the mouthpiece of the company. You’ll be responsible for sharing any official announcements on the company’s social sites, and when something goes wrong you’re going to hear about it. An important distinction that people considering a social media job should note is that there is a good chance that most of your day is going to be filled with responding to less than happy clients and helping with their issues. As the mouthpiece for the company it’s important that you be able to remain calm and professional when engaging with people on social media.
Social media skill set
Here are some skills you should consider adding to your knowledge base if you want to blossom into a beautiful paid Social Media Specialist:
- Social media platforms should be like second languages to you. Use them, understand them, master them.
- Blogging is an important part of most social media specialists knowledge base so practice your copywriting. A lot. Become familiar with blogging sites like WordPress, Medium, Blogger.
- Analytics, analytics, analytics. If there are no stats to back up what you’re doing, then how do you know if it’s working or not? You can’t. Learning the different metrics to track, and how to track them is essential for being a great Social Media Marketer. Plus, the more good statistics you can show your boss, the more impressed they will be!
- Learn about running paid advertisements on social media. If you want anything seen on social media these days, you’re probably going to have to spend a little money on it. You’re going to be expected to know how to set up and run paid ads on social media.
- Stay focused. It’s easy to get distracted when signing on to Facebook is literally a part of your job. Remember the task at hand.
- Be able to remain calm and professional under pressure. When you work in social media enough, you’re bound to run into a troll. I don’t care how small your company is, it will happen. This one is common sense, but there is no quicker way to get fired than firing back at someone on social media because someone got under your skin. Remember, you’re the mouthpiece for the company on social media. Be smart about what you say.
- Being able to organize and prioritize your time is going to be another crucial skill to have. Social media is a wild beast that never sleeps. Be prepared to work crazy hours sometimes, and use content calendars to plan your content, where to post it, and when to post it ahead of time. Be sure to update it regularly as well. Content that would’ve been gold two weeks ago, might be a disaster to post today.
- Photoshop, even on a basic level can help you out immensely. You’ll need featured images and thumbnails in different shapes and sizes. Many places will have designated departments to create the images, but it’s good to brush up on for when you need different image sizes in a pinch. The better you are with software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, the easier your job becomes. If you’re an Adobe master, this can be a great bargaining chip when it comes time to discuss salary.
- Getting to know social media platform management software such as Hootsuite can be a plus. Even if your company doesn’t use a service like Hootsuite, you might want to pitch the idea to them later. It makes planning and publishing content much simpler than logging into each site individually.
- Although you can get a job as a Social Media Specialist without a Bachelors degree, it definitely helps open more doors if you have a degree from an accredited university. You can also complete online courses and obtain certificates that look great on a resume. This will also come in handy when the time comes to negotiate your salary, or pay raises.
My salary and career path
For my first job out of college, I was a “Social Media Specialist” for a mid-sized distribution company in Indiana. My starting salary fresh out of college was $20,000, and would increase to $22,000 after 90 days, and then to $25,000 after 6 months.
Now I know you’re probably thinking, “damn Warren Buffet, where did you put all of your Range Rovers? Well, it turns out that Range Rovers are hard to acquire on less than $30,000 per year. And I’ll never tell you where my Range Rovers are.
Luckily for me, not only was I able to get the extra $5,000 after 6 months with the company as promised but within 1 year with the company, I was making $35,000. I was happy with the two extra pay raises that I was given, but even more so I was happy to land a job and build that experience right out of college.
As the title of this article suggests, I am now in my 4th year of working in the Social Media Marketing realm. After a couple of years of working in my first role, I was able to leverage my previous experience and education to get a better job with another company, which I am still employed currently. After 4 years of experience, I am now making just north of $50,000 in my current role of Social Media Group Coordinator. This annual salary of $50,000 is on par with the average median-level salaries for Social Media Specialists in the US, according to Glassdoor Salaries.
The TL;DR of my career path and compensation in the Social Media Marketing field: graduated Ball State University with Marketing degree > began working as a Social Media Specialist for a mid-sized distribution company making $25,000 > promoted to digital marketing specialist at the same company now making $35,000 > left the company after 2 years to work for my current company as the Social Media Group Coordinator making $50,000.
According to the US Bureau & Labor Statistics, a 9% rate of job growth is expected for Social Media Specialists from 2016 to 2026. They are grouped in the Public Relations field of jobs.
It’s still wild to me that we live in a time where someone can make money by running social media accounts, but here we are! This field of work is very new. Just to give some perspective on the emergence of Social Media Specialist jobs, when I was finishing up my final two years of college they were only just beginning to incorporate Social Media Marketing into their curriculum. I graduated in 2015. It’s crazy to see the transformation and new emphasis being placed on social media and its role in Marketing throughout the universities.
A final bit of advice to anyone considering a job as a Social Media Specialist
Unless you know someone, it’s going to be nearly impossible to find a job making as much as you want right out of school with no experience. If you really want to get a job as a Social Media Marketer, then you should be willing to work for less money than you would hope at first.
Many places offer paid & unpaid internships as well, and I would really recommend this especially if it’s working for a company or industry you’re interested in. Don’t be afraid to do a little pro-bono work when you first get started. In other words, don’t shy away from an unpaid internship if it’s a good opportunity for you. Companies will often time offer a job to their interns after the internship has run its course. If not, you still have valuable job experience that you can use as leverage for your next job. It’s a pretty sweet line of work to get into, and the hardest part is going to be getting your foot in the door. The field is always changing, and therefore you must always be learning and keeping up. Once you get there don’t get complacent. It’s cliche, but you should continue to grow your wealth of knowledge until you’re ready to kick that door to the ground!
This is all just my own personal experience, and I’m sure others have experiences, career paths, and compensations that are vastly different from mine. Should go without saying, but any decision you make should come from you and what you want to do with your life.
Thanks for reading!