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social media SPECIALIST

How to Work in Social Media

BrainStation’s Social Media Specialist career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative new career in digital marketing. Find out how you can work in social media.

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A Social Media Specialist or Manager can come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, with some possessing a degree in marketing, others instead getting the job after completing a bootcamp or certificate course, and others becoming social media professionals after first building audiences with their own social media accounts.

A Social Media Specialist job description will usually call for a degree, although not necessarily a marketing degree – degrees in subjects like communications, public relations, and even journalism could be viewed positively as well. Even those with a traditional degree will need a portfolio of strong work and a proven social media presence.

And a traditional four-year college degree might not be the right career path for those who feel certain that social media marketing is their specific area of interest. Bootcamps or certification courses are more focused on the specific skills you would need to thrive now and in the future as a Social Media Specialist, and they can get you up and running in your new career far faster.

How to Work in Social Media

Social media professionals tend to have a lot in common. These are the nine characteristics every successful Social Media Specialist seems to share:

1. They Love Social Media

Social Media Specialists spend an inordinate amount of time reading, browsing, scrolling, posting, responding, and interacting on social media. They live their lives on social media and rarely step away from their feeds.

An effective Social Media Specialist genuinely loves jumping in on online discussions, growing communities, and interacting with others on the job.

From there, the best digital marketing pros become experts in their field, standing out from the pack by writing thought-provoking blog posts, speaking at events and conferences, and networking with other influencers and thought-leaders.

That raises their profile and in turn, makes them more valuable to prospective digital marketing employers who see the extent of their influence and social media experience.

2. They Understand How to Communicate With Different Audiences

There’s no getting around it: succeeding as a social media pro requires top-notch communication skills. Social Media Specialist job duties will require that you know how to communicate clearly and courteously when replying to comments from customers or community members. Social media pros have to know how to be warm, friendly, and helpful while staying true to the brand voice that’s been established.

An effective Social Media Specialist is almost like a public relations expert and will know the brand’s audience inside and out – while also understanding how that demographic will change depending on the specific social media channels being used. Ensuring customers and users only have a positive experience is one of the biggest Social Media Specialist job responsibilities.

3. They Know How to Write

Again, writing and communication skills are a must for any social media job.

With the surplus of information swirling on the Internet, you need to know how to write clear, concise, and compelling content that will engage a reader (and, if you’re writing blog posts for a company website, your writing must also incorporate keywords and search terms to leverage SEO tactics).

It is important for businesses on social media to maintain a steady flow of well-written, accurate, and timely content. It’s the social media marketing professional’s job to ensure that the brand’s pages stay relevant by publishing share-worthy content.

4. They “Get” Pop Culture

Every effective social media pro needs to have their finger on the pulse of pop culture, sports, politics, and everything else that’s going on in the “real world.”

Any trending topic could potentially affect the social content that you’re planning, promoting, and programming. In a world where scheduled tweets collide with real-time marketing and real-world events, a social media pro has to be completely on top of everything that’s happening to both identify opportunities and also spot any huge reputational risks that could come with an ill-timed tweet or post.

Further, being “in” on discussions that are happening will lead to fun ideas for highly shareable content.

5. They’re Creative Thinkers

Social media platforms give brands the opportunity to showcase what makes them unique. Standing out in a crowded social media landscape means thinking outside the box.

A Social Media Specialist has an eye for fresh and relevant material. Consumers have their own systems of filtering out and unfollowing content and brands that do not hold any relevance for them. This also means having the time management skills to post content while it’s still timely. In an age of instantaneous information, your social media profiles must provide strong material that followers aren’t seeing elsewhere or you’ll fall to the wayside.

6. They Have an Eye for Design

It’s rare that you’ll simply be posting text to social media. Research has found that social media posts with images receive much more engagement and roughly half of consumers want to experience more video content in the future.

Designing and creating eye-catching visual content is becoming an essential part of any social media management job.

7. They’re Analytical

Every great social media strategist keeps numbers top of mind. They define KPIs and monitor whether or not they are meeting their job goals at every step of a social media campaign, sometimes adjusting course if their content isn’t connecting the way it should be.

Every Social Media Specialist needs to understand how to leverage data, not just to improve their content and unearth insights about their customers, but also to prove the social ROI of the work you’ve been doing.

If math isn’t your thing, there are lots of social media marketing tools that can simplify analytics. Using those in combination with Google Analytics should give you a great view of how your campaign is performing.

8. They’re Savvy About Business

Being able to author viral content is great – but understanding how your social media marketing strategy fits within a larger overall business strategy is even better. A social media pro who really sees the big picture and understands his or her role within it would be extremely valuable to any digital marketing team.

Effective social media marketing experts understand which metrics are most relevant to the business and how a social media marketing strategy can help to boost them.

9. They’re Dedicated to Learning

Knowledge is power no matter which industry or profession you’re working in, but in fields as fast-changing as social media and digital marketing, certainly it requires a dedication to lifelong learning to thrive.

You’ll need to constantly stay updated about the latest social media tool updates, algorithm changes, and SEO trends. You should also stay open to upskilling with additional training, an online certification course or a bootcamp. BrainStation’s Digital Skills Training Survey found that 89 percent of digital marketing professionals said they would benefit from additional training, so adopting that attitude would be a wise thing for any would-be Social Media Specialist to do.