Agency, in-house or freelance: Where should you start your social media marketing career?
If you’re thinking about starting a social media career, the marketing world is your oyster.
Social media marketing is an incredibly dynamic and diverse field that offers positions for people of all strengths. So, whether you’re equipped with creative ability or strategic prowess, social media marketing’s got a place for you.
The question is, exactly where should you start your career? With roles in agencies, businesses, and government, not to mention the opportunity to be your own boss, the options can be overwhelming!
In this article, we’ll dive into the many places you can be a social media marketer and explore their pros and cons, so you can work out the best place to kickstart your career.
Working As a Social Media Marketer for a Large Company
Look at almost any company and you’ll find a social media marketing expert in their marketing team.
From not-for-profits and small businesses to global enterprises and government, you can bet there’s a social media marketer busily curating social content, managing social calendars, negotiating with influencers, and planning strategy.
In larger organisations, you’ll likely work in a team with other social media marketers or be the social media specialist in a digital marketing team. In smaller businesses, social media marketing will probably be part of a broader digital marketing or general marketing role – chances are, you’ll be the go-to for all things digital marketing.
Here are the pros and cons of working as a social media employee for a large company:
- Long-term job stability with a predictable salary
- Good benefits, such as health cover, superannuation, bonuses
- An in-depth look at a brand or industry, and chance to become an expert
- Explore professional development opportunities
- Chance to move across to other departments and roles within the same organisation to broaden your experience
- There can be lots of red tape when it comes to creative ideas
- You may find it repetitive to work for a single company (though one company can have lots of brands, which offers more variety)
Being a social media marketer for an agency
When you work as a social media marketer for an agency, you might be a contractor or an employee. Here, we’ll focus on the employee experience.
Depending on the agency, you’ll probably manage multiple client accounts. Though, some agencies have big clients that require dedicated teams.
Marketing agencies tend to specialise in certain sectors, which means you might only work on clients across travel, sports, or government, for example.
Here are some of the pros and cons of working as a social media professional for a marketing agency:
- Diverse tasks which offers variety and opportunities to build your experience
- Huge potential to gain experience and training
- Work with highly creative and skilled marketers in a collaborative environment
- Opportunity to work with big-name clients (with big budgets) at larger agencies
- Job stability can fluctuate depending on whether the agency wins or loses clients
- Juggling multiple client accounts can become overwhelming
- Clients can be demanding – client management is a very particular skill, but it can be learned
- The agency chooses your clients for you
- Workloads can quickly spin out of control, particularly during high-growth periods
Become a social media marketing consultant
Ever considered being your own boss? Rather than working for a large company or an agency, you can choose to set up your own freelance consultancy business and offer your services to businesses.
This means that you’ll pitch for your own clients directly and manage your clients, as well as the business side of things, like paying yourself, marketing your skills, and managing your daily workloads.
Being a freelancer or consultant comes with lots of pros and cons – but ultimately whether it suits you depends on your personality and career goals:
- Set your own rates, which will increase as your experience grows
- Take on clients you are interested in, and who align with your interests and values
- Specialise in a niche you are passionate about
- Choose your own hours and schedule (though you will still need to meet client deadlines!)
- Scale your business up and down to suit your lifestyle
- You don’t get the benefits of working for an employer (such as paid annual leave and sick leave)
- Building your reputation takes time
- Stability is low – you need to budget carefully for quiet periods
- You’ll need to manage the business and wear lots of hats, or be willing to outsource things like bookkeeping and admin
Do your research
No two companies or agencies are the same. So, when it comes to applying for social media jobs, do your research. What are the long-term prospects at the company? Are there clear opportunities for growth and learning? Check out their company values – do they align with yours? What’s the culture like? You’ll soon work out which type of organisation is the best fit for you.
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