Social Media Career Guide: What You Can Do And Where You Can Do It.

Demand for employees with social media skills has increased with many new possibilities:

  • McKinley Marketing Partners reports the top in-demand skill is digital marketing including social media skills.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has made social media more important.
  • CMO Survey found social media spending increased from 13% to 23% of marketing budgets in 2020.
  • Marketers say they plan to keep that increase in 2021.
Social Media Jobs Are Growing
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Social media has gone from one person’s side job to full-time and specialized positions within companies and in marketing communications firms. Click To Tweet Below is a guide to help you consider the different roles that may match your interest and skills and work environment you prefer.

Social Media Strategy Jobs

Social media strategists plan a social media strategy, ensuring it connects to larger objectives and integrates marketing, advertising, and public relations. Strategists utilize tools like social media audits to improve social media content and measure performance to report results to management. Social media marketing managers are more action oriented with creating and executing social media strategy for overall brand presence and specific campaigns. At larger organizations people under them help with implementation and day-to-day tasks. At smaller organizations social media managers may also implement the strategy they manage.

Social Media Engagement Jobs

Some roles are more on the front lines of social media. Social media community managers foster social media communities built around a brand. They monitor and respond to conversations across social media platforms or are assigned to specific social networks. Social media coordinators plan, implement, and monitor a brand’s social media strategy working with content creators, internal departments, and external partners to measure and improve performance. Social media specialists focus on implementation of social media strategy, writing copy for social posts, scheduling social content, and tracking KPIs while staying up to date on the latest trends.

Social Media Content Creation Jobs

Other social media roles are focused on creating social content. Social media copywriters plan, create, and analyze channel-specific brand social media written content, build content calendars, write brand guidelines, and find internal and external sources for content. Social media graphic designers create and maintain visual brand assets and find and create appropriate images and graphics for various social media channels. Social media video specialist capture, edit, and produce videos for brand assets and specific social media channels.

Social Media Specialists Jobs

Some social media roles are oriented toward more specialized areas. Influencer relations managers identify, build, and manage relationships with celebrity, macro, and micro influencers to create and share brand social media content. Social media analysts focus on social media measurement developing systems, processes, and reporting to gather and analyze social metrics to make better decisions and optimize strategies, tactics, and content. A journalist social media content developer uses journalism skills to promote news brands or create news-style content for corporate brands in social media.

Besides specific social media roles, there are various types of organizations within which social media professionals can work. The CMO Survey reports that 3/4ths of social media activities are performed inside a company and 1/4th are performed by outside agencies. Click To Tweet What are the options for outside agencies?

Marketing Communications Firms

Many marketers and brand managers hire outside communications firms to create and execute their integrated marketing communications campaigns. Some firms have changed over the years to call themselves integrated marketing communications agencies. Yet, they traditionally have come from companies focused on advertising and public relations. Both disciplines and agencies have increased their social media services over the years and thus require social media specialists.

Advertising agencies are hired by marketers to create, produce, and manage paid commercial messages through TV, outdoor, ratio, print, digital, and social marketing to promote products and services. Ad agencies can be hired to produce a single ad campaign or may be agency of record for a brand, providing multiple integrated services in an ongoing relationship. As a brand partner they provide strategy, implementation, and measurement. Today, any position in an advertising agency is required to have digital and social media knowledge and there are many specific social media positions.

Public relations agencies are hired by marketers to create, produce, and manage unpaid messages to the public through media to change public actions by influencing opinions. PR agencies often provide services to their clients such as strategy development, messaging, media relations, content marketing, social media marketing, event planning, crisis communication, and influencer relations. Today, social media is seen as the number one skill required for public relations new hires.

Specialized Agencies

In 2019 digital media ad spending surpassed traditional media for the first time. With digital representing 54% of all US ad spending the growth in digital marketing specialized agencies as followed suit. There are digital marketing agencies that include social media services and social media agencies that focus on social media strategy and implementation.

Digital marketing agencies are hired by marketers to create, produce, and manage brands through digital media including website, mobile, and digital ads to promote products and services. Digital agencies often focus on services such as website design and development, apps, search engine optimization, search and display advertising, social media and email marketing, content creation, online lead generation, plus mobile apps and campaigns. With the increase in social media spending digital agencies are increasing their social media services and hiring more social media specific roles.

Social media agencies are hired by marketers to create, produce, and manage the presence of a brand through social media channels such as social networks, messaging apps, blogs and forums, podcasts, ratings, and reviews. Social media agencies focus on social media strategy, content creation, community management, paid social advertising, influencer engagement, social listening, measurement and monitoring, promotions, and crisis management. They have grown into significant companies with many employees in physical offices or through virtual collaboration.

Social Media Self Employment

There is also a growing option where social media professionals work for themselves. Social media freelancers provide the services of specific social media roles on a project or campaign rather than as a full-time employee. This could also be called a social media solopreneur. A solopreneur is an entrepreneur who runs a business without full-time employees. This often means working virtually from home with more flexibility in your schedule.

Companies or Organizations

Many social media positions today are hired in-house at the company or organization, working directly in or with the marketing department. The marketing department in an organization promotes the business and drives sales of products and services. This could be a separate social media role or within an in-house marketing communications department. A social media professional at a company could also be housed in the corporate communications department which manages a company’s reputation and develops communications plans with stakeholders.

Some companies create a separate social media department that works with other departments including marketing, communications, sales, customer service, and human resources to plan and implement cross-discipline social media strategies. Finally, journalists could be hired for social media content developer roles for news organizations.

The great opportunity with social media positions within companies or organizations is to marry your social media skills with your passion for another field. Click To Tweet Perhaps you love sports. You could look for social media jobs at sports teams, leagues, college athletic departments, or e-sports brands. Or perhaps you are into fashion. You could look for social media positions at fashion brands or fashion retailers. No matter your interest, from cars and tech to health and nonprofit causes, brands in that field need social media professionals.

Which position and type of organization are you best suited for?

To get better idea of specific responsibilities and opportunities:

Corporate Communications, Marketing, IMC, PR and Advertising. What’s the difference?

When we talk about these separate communication disciplines are we comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges, grapes, pears and peaches? First, lets start with some definitions:

Corporate Communication: Activities involved in managing all internal and external communications aimed at corporate stakeholders.

Marketing Communications: Coordinated promotional messages delivered through channels like print, radio, television and personal selling.

Public Relations: Creating/maintaining goodwill of various publics (customers, employees, investors, etc.) through non-paid forms of communication.

Advertising: The activity or profession of producing information for promoting the sale of commercial products or services.

Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC): A synergistic approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods.

So what is the difference and how are they all connected? In general Corporate Communication focuses on the company/enterprise in dealing with issue management, mergers and litigation. Marketing Communications deals with the products/services and with creating demand or positioning.

Its easy to see how PR can be used for both Corporate and Marketing Communication. From crisis management to media outreach, PR is very effective at helping to meet corporate and marketing goals. But advertising can be used for both as well. Many times I have created a public billboard or national print ad for a target audience of one – an important corporate stakeholder. Trends also indicate that consumers now look at the companies behind brands with corporate responsibility and sustainability becoming a part of their purchase decision. A Cone report found that 79% of adults would be likely switch from one brand to another after hearing about a corporate-charitable partnership.

What about Corporate Branding TV that isn’t really selling a product, but promoting the corporation? Following the BP Oil Spill Corporate Communication used Public Relations for Crisis Management and one of their strategies was Corporate TV that told stakeholders and consumers everything BP was doing to clean up. That leads us to one more concept :

Internal Marketing: This management philosophy promotes the firm and its policies to employees as if they are the (internal) customers of the firm.

Wasn’t the BP spot also aimed at BP employees? I am sure internal communication was a big part of their integrated communications effort – which brings me to Integrated Marketing Communication. IMC may only apply to synergistic efforts to meet marketing goals, but as you can see with the BP example it is possible to create a larger integrated plan that uses advertising, PR and internal efforts to meet both Corporate and Marketing Communication goals.

I do value the importance of maintaining separate specializations. We need experts in all fields, but I do think there is room to come together and create the big ideas that move consumers and stakeholders. Rather than comparing apples to oranges, I would rather make fruit salad.

BP Can’t Get Beyond Petroleum.

Do you know how for years the big oil companies have been trying to tell us that they are not really oil companies? Through PR and corporate campaigns they’ve tried to convince us that they are in fact new energy companies. I think I was actually starting to buy it. BP with its earth friendly yellow and green sun logo and fun illustrated campaign had me convinced they were actually moving beyond petroleum – that is until they started dumping thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Now the company can’t get away from being associated with oil. BPs website is now cluttered with response to the oil spill. Response in pictures. Response in video. Response in maps. It seems BP did learn something from it corporate giant friend Toyota. Response it key. Did BP executives read the USA Today/Gallop Poll that said a majority of Americans though Toyota failed to respond quickly enough to its own PR disaster?

Does anyone else feel duped by BPs ads? The “Beyond Petroleum” campaign was launched by Ogilvy & Mather almost 10 years ago. From the Ogilvy PR press release “The newly re-branded, global BP sought to position itself as transcending the oil sector, remaining innovative, progressive and environmentally responsible.” They wanted the world to know intended to go beyond petroleum. That PR battle was a success earning two 2001 PRWeek Campaign of the Year awards. But BP may end up losing the war.

BP can say the word response all they want, but it doesn’t change the fact that they weren’t ready for this. After almost two weeks the governor of Louisiana is still waiting for a contingency plan from BP. While the government is waiting for environmental plans BP was out with its own economic plan offering $5,000 settlements to residents if they waived their rights to sue for any damages.

Did BPs advertising work too well? Would they be better off in the this crisis if a lot of us didn’t start believing they were beyond petroleum?