Imagine a world where you don’t have to frantically shut down your browser so that your boss doesn’t see you checking Facebook. Or where you can lose yourself for hours in the Insta stories of influencers and brands.
This world exists. In fact, there’s a surprising number of careers that mean you can get paid to use social media. But a career in social media marketing isn’t all likes, shares and reactions – there is a lot more to the job than you might think.
Social media marketing is about building communities, engaging audiences and converting them into loyal advocates of a brand, service or product. So, what is it really like to have a career in social media? What skills are employers looking for? Explore the ins and outs that are unique to this fast-paced industry.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at everything you need to know about the social media job market and how to stand out.
Social media job market in 2021
The year 2020 was a huge one in social media. The coronavirus pandemic pushed people to spend more time online and find ways to interact and socialise with each other, without physically meeting up. It’s no wonder the Sprout Social Index reported that 50% of consumers increased their social media usage in the last six months. In fact, in January 2021, Australia had 20.5 million social media users with social media penetration currently at 80%.
With travel and mobility limited, 75% of Australians went online to do their shopping. When Victoria moved into a second round of restrictions in July, online purchases rebounded even higher than the April peaks. A third of online purchases made in July were made in Victoria. And in the six weeks up to August 22, 2020, Victoria recorded the highest number of online purchases in its history.
That’s not all – in a race to reach online consumers, overall digital ad spend only grew by 1% across the board, but there was a 2% increase in social ad spend during 2020.
Who manages the social ad spend? Who engages those social media communities?
The growth of online retail during the pandemic coupled with the increased use of social media means more businesses of all sizes are looking to social media thinkers and doers to reach and engage potential customers online.
Types of social media roles
Social media marketing used to be blended into a marketer’s role. Maybe they’d squeeze a few posts into their weekly to-do list or include a Facebook ad as an afterthought for a campaign.
How times have changed!
The colossal growth of social media means there are real defined career pathways and distinct job roles dedicated to social media marketing, both in-house or in an agency.
Here are 5 social media job titles and descriptions:
Social Media Assistant
Social Media Coordinator/Executive/Manager
These roles all involve the day to day management of social media accounts, including creating and scheduling content, monitoring online conversation, organising customer service through social media platforms, creating imagery and videos, and staying on top of social media trends and updates.
Head of Social
This is a role that involves managing a team, rather than the day to day management of accounts. If you’ve been working in social for a while, this is a great way to step up and manage a team that does the execution for you. Head of Social may also be the main social media strategist, or there may be a separate role for this (below).
Social Media Strategist
This role is a pure strategy role. It’s particularly common in agencies or large enterprises as the strategist will look after more than one business or brand.
Content Marketer / Manager
While not a dedicated social media role, a content manager will manage all content and use social media to ensure the content is used effectively to engage communities. This includes content like blogs, ebooks, white papers, videos and guides. The responsibilities of a content marketer include strategizing and planning, as well as executing content creation and delivery, tracking and reporting on metrics, and possibly managing a team of writers, designers, and creatives (either in-house or external).
Social media career skills
What types of skills and experience will you need to succeed in a social media career? What makes an employer say, “We need to hire this one!”
Take a look at these real social media job ads to give you a taste of what you need to work towards:
Real-Life Example 1: Social Media & Content Producer
“Are you a social media guru and live on social platforms and passionate about creating content that excites and delights people? Do you have a passion for growing followings and a creative flair to capture people’s attention? Are you always the first person to discover and master a new social media trend?”
Key Takeaways: This brand wants the candidate to be excited about social media and an active user of different channels.
Real-Life Example 2: Social Media Manager
“We’re looking for an innovative Social Media Manager who lives and breathes Social. We need someone who always has a camera in their hand, is the first to experiment with new social features, strategic and globally minded and loves engaging with online communities.”
Key Takeaways: Again, this employer wants the candidate to be on top of all the social media features and trends, as well as an active participant in social media conversations.
Real-Life Example 3: Social Strategy Manager
“This role will be client facing, and you will be a part of critical pitches as well as day to day strategy and implementation of Social strategy and digital advertising across all platforms. You will be creative and have the ability to ideate meaningful and boundary pushing creative to complement our clients’ business objectives.”
Key Takeaways: This is a strategic role for a creative digital agency. The important thing here is to have a strong knowledge of social media channels in order to be able to plan and execute ideas confidently.
Top skills employers look for in a social media specialist:
- Excellent written communication skills
You might not be a copywriter by trade, but writing is an essential part of the job as a social media marketer. The text on an Instagram post or Facebook ad are all some form of copy. If you can’t grab attention with your writing, now is the time to work on this skill.
- The ability to work in a fast paced and continuously changing environment
Social media moves fast, and so will you. There’s no time to ummm and ahhh about every little punctuation mark. You need to act quickly.
How will you capture the attention and interest of your audience? Being creative while still relevant to your business is tricky. Storytelling along with creative visual and video content is the key. Often employers will ask for photography, videography and graphic design program skills as standard.
Can you track data and information? You need to measure the success of your campaigns otherwise you won’t know it’s working.
How to build skills in social media marketing
Social media marketers in Australia typically have a degree or certificate directly relating to marketing, or equivalent experience. You can also ensure you stand out from the competition with social media marketing qualifications, like the Diploma of Social Media Marketing. The advantage of online courses like this is that you have the flexibility to study on your terms, even while you’re building your career.
One last thing…
Social media and job search statistics show that 73% of people aged 18 to 34 found their last job via a social platform. So, make sure you are scouring the social media sites for your next opportunity.
But before you do, think about setting your personal account to private. More and more employers are using social media to screen candidates before they are even shortlisted for an interview.
Over to you
If you’re ready to start a career in social media marketing, you need the skills to back it up.