To learn social media marketing, you should pursue formal education in a social media marketing course or digital marketing bootcamp, develop your brand online by establishing followings across all major social media channels, and finally begin looking for entry-level social media marketing jobs and internships.
Social media is not hard to learn, but it does require continuous learning and staying up-to-date with trends. Because of the emergence of new platforms and tech, and changing demographics and tastes, social media trends will always evolve.
Staying constantly focused on the latest developments and adopting a data-driven approach to social media marketing are two ways to stay ahead of the game, ensuring that you’re always making the best use of your social media campaigns and resources.
Because there is no set social media marketing degree being offered by post-secondary institutions, you do not need a specific degree to be a Social Media Manager or even necessarily a degree at all.
Some who pursue a career in social media marketing will indeed first complete a college diploma or bachelor’s degree in marketing, and most social media marketing job descriptions will indeed call for a degree of some kind, but few specify that it has to be a degree in marketing — in fact, degrees in subjects like communications, public relations, and even journalism could potentially be even more attractive for social media management jobs.
And with the growing demand for Social Media Marketers, many agencies and companies are dropping degree requirements entirely and instead turning to graduates of digital marketing bootcamps and social media marketing courses to find their next star social media professional.
It’s also worth noting that 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 social media marketing tools and skills you would need to thrive now and in the future as a Social Media Manager, and they can get you up and running in your new career far faster.
Generally speaking, if you have an in-depth understanding of marketing tactics and social media channels, and if you understand reports and analytics and are a strong writer, you’ll have a good shot at breaking into a Social Media Manager role, regardless of your educational background.
To become a Social Media Manager without a degree, you should build up your portfolio with freelance work showcasing your social media marketing efforts, explore free online social media marketing resources or dedicated online courses, and look to build out other related digital marketing skills through entry-level jobs or internships.
Follow these tips to get into social media management without a degree:
Study digital marketing fundamentals
With the vast amount of resources available on the Internet, you don’t need to attend a four-year college marketing program to begin building an understanding of emerging digital marketing strategies and techniques. Before you focus on leveling up your social media skills, consider exploring books, webinars, and free online courses in marketing to build up your basic knowledge of areas including viral marketing techniques, search engine optimization, content marketing, website design, and digital advertising.
Go viral on your own
Aspiring Social Media Managers don’t have to wait until they’re managing official company accounts to prove that they know how to create winning social media content. You can get started building out your online presence on all relevant social media networks and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. In fact, many people become social media professionals after first building audiences with their own viral social media posts.
All social media channels are based on some combination of sharing content and engaging with other users. Almost all platforms follow a similar model of liking posts contributed by other users and uploading original content for others to engage with, but there are differences. You can begin to immerse yourself in the social media marketing world simply by establishing your own profile on each of these key social channels, allowing you to develop a sense of the unique features and characteristics of every popular social media platform.
If Hiring Managers can see that you have a strong knack for creating viral content, they will be much more likely to overlook your lack of a degree or diploma.
Take a marketing course or bootcamp
If you’re interested in learning social media marketing to ultimately get a job in the field, an intensive, project-based social media course will likely be the most efficient way to build out the right mix of soft and hard social media marketing skills you’ll need to start a new career in social media without a degree.
Social media marketing certification will also help you learn more about the latest tactics, tools, and strategies that aspiring Social Media Marketing Managers need. That means that employers know that you will have the most up-to-date possible training in areas like influencer marketing, social media advertising, and community management.
A social media course will also help you build a portfolio of real-world projects, which you can then develop further by seeking out freelance work, boosting your social media presence to draw more attention in the digital world, and looking for social media marketing internships and entry-level digital marketing jobs.
Social media is now the medium in which the world consumes pop culture and news. This is especially true when you consider how ingrained it is in the daily life of younger age groups: 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds are now using social media.
In other words, if you’re not using social media, you are missing out. Here are a few reasons why a social media marketing certification is worth it.
Social media trends are always changing
While the popularity of social media is unlikely to change, it’s clear that the popularity of individual platforms will; it already has. Facebook, for example, is losing younger users — despite their global reach. According to eMarketer, the number of Facebook users younger than the age of 11 is expected to decline by 9.3 percent in 2018. The number of users aged 12 to 17, and 18 to 24 will also decrease by 5.6 and 5.8 percent, respectively.
So what are they using? 32 percent of teenagers now consider Instagram the most important social network, which makes sense: 90 percent of Instagram users are younger than 35. Americans between the ages of 18 to 24 are also more likely to use Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter than people in their mid-to-late 20s.
The emergence of new platforms and technology, and changing demographics, tastes, and trends will continue to change with time. Staying informed on the latest developments, concepts, and best practices, and adopting a data-driven approach to social media marketing, are two ways to stay ahead of the game, ensuring that you’re always making the best use of your campaigns and resources.
Social media is essential for branding and marketing
50 million small businesses are now using Facebook Pages, and for good reason: A full 74 percent of Facebook users say they visit the site daily, with 51 percent saying they do several times a day.
This is a large, captive audience, but they do have expectations with regards to the way companies handle social media. In fact, 78 percent who complain to a brand via Twitter expect a response within an hour, and 71 percent of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others.
Outside of customer service and experience, social media platforms are also playing a direct role in purchasing decisions. A whopping 93 percent of Pinterest users, for example, use the platform to plan or make purchases, and the platform actually drives 25 percent of all retail website referral traffic.
You can measure the ROI of social media marketing
Despite its ubiquity, and the sheer amount of businesses using social media for marketing and branding, there is a perception that the effectiveness of social media is difficult to measure.
According to eMarketer, 61 percent of Marketers say measuring ROI is their top challenge. Funnily enough, three other challenges in the survey’s top five are directly related to ROI measurement, and would help solve the issue if implemented properly:
- Tying social to business goals (33 percent)
- Tracking results via a dashboard (27 percent)
- Understanding performance across social channels (25 percent)
This is not completely surprising given the inefficient use and management of social media in many organizations. According to one survey, Marketers are wasting the equivalent of two days per week on social media admin tasks, with much of the time related to switching between platforms.
Creating a successful social media campaign requires forethought and careful planning – in fact, one study found that goal-setting Marketers, Marketers who document their strategy, and Marketers who proactively plan their projects are more than three times as likely to report success. Clearly, knowing how to properly plan an effective social media campaign from scratch is one of a Social Media Marketer’s core skills.
The first step is to audit your current social media presence and assess where you stand – to take a critical look at all of your company’s social channels, cut or consolidate any extraneous or underused accounts (while centralizing ownership, using a tool like LastPass or 1Password to keep track of your passwords), and scan for any imposter accounts impersonating your brand. The auditing step also includes recording a few key metrics to track the performance of each account, taking note of which platforms and accounts seem to be generating the most engagement.
Step two is to determine your goals. The motivation behind a social media campaign can vary; are you trying to increase overall brand awareness, introduce a new product or service, create excitement around a limited-time promotion, reach influencers, or simply grow your company’s social media following? If your goal is awareness, for instance, that can be evaluated using a range of metrics, including likes, shares, and impressions. If that’s your goal, a brand-monitoring tool like Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, or Social Mention could be valuable. If you’re focused on conversions, metrics like bounce rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate will be more important to you.
Before you move on to the planning stage, observe your competition. Using the same methods you employed to audit your own social media presence, see what competitors in your space are doing, which platforms they’re focusing on, and the strategies that seem to be working and not working. You’ll also want to look beyond your industry for inspiration. With a sense of what you want – and metrics to clearly gauge whether or not you’ve achieved it – you can begin putting together an editorial calendar. As in all types of publishing, an editorial calendar is a crucial tool for managing content teams of all sizes (popular choices include Trello, Marketing.Ai, and CoSchedule). Whichever platform you use, an editorial calendar will help you ensure you don’t miss opportunities relating to awareness days that always generate a ton of social media interest – International Women’s Day, for instance – and allow you to plot a content mix that makes sense for your brand.
Many Marketers follow the rule of thirds – a social media feed should be fuelled by one-third engagement, one-third curated content, and one-third your own content – while others favor, for instance, a 3-2-5 ratio with three parts your brand voice, two parts a brand representative, and five parts generated by others. It’s an important decision; research has shown that 45 percent of consumers will unfollow a brand if their platform is too heavy on self-promotion. An editorial calendar will also help you with the crucial task of posting content at the optimal times for different platforms, as the best times to post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest vary wildly depending on both platform and industry.
As you begin creating content for your social media channels, it’s important to choose the channels you focus on – and to choose the tone of your content carefully. This starts by understanding the audience you’re communicating with. Probe all the available information you have about your existing customer base, including location, age, language, income, and buying habits. You’ve already audited your social media presence, but this is the time to dig deeper. Many social media platforms make it very easy to learn a lot about people already following and engaging with your brand. Once you have an idea of your audience through social media analytics and your own internal data, take all of that information to craft personas of current and prospective customers. These can be layered to create specific images of people who represent a segment of your audience, and are an important tool in finding your brand voice and determining which channels deserve more attention.
Knowing more about your audience will also help you determine the right type and mix of content for your campaign. As your campaign progresses, you can use the metrics you’ve already chosen to determine what type of imagery and content will resonate with your audience and continue to focus on what’s working. Once you have your plan, stick to it. Studies have shown that brands that present themselves with consistency are three to four times more likely to achieve brand visibility, and even boost revenue by as much as 23 percent.
To build a following on social media, you must create great content that resonates with your target audience, pick the right social channels and tailor your content accordingly, and leverage social media analytics to constantly analyze the success of your social media marketing strategy and adjust it when needed.
Here are a few of the key considerations to build a following on social media:
Choose the right social platforms
Where does your target audience live online? Consider the differences between different platforms and create content that will stand out on each. What speaks to TikTok’s audience likely won’t work on Twitter. A one-size-fits-all approach is never wise.
Come up with a social media strategy
Any social media professional will tell you that long-term thinking is crucial. If you don’t set goals, you won’t be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your work.
Stay on top of social trends
The best social media professionals are never in the dark about what people are talking about online. Think about how what’s going viral right now could relate to your brand’s story.
Maintain a consistent online presence
Don’t let your audience miss you. Although you don’t want to spend too much time promoting – and clogging up someone’s feed needlessly is not a good idea – it’s important that your audience knows what to expect in terms of your brand’s voice, look, and even how often they see your content.
Learn from your social media mistakes
To effectively carry out your strategy, you will have to also audit and analyze how well you’ve been doing. Figure out your KPIs and see where you excelled and lagged. Good social media professionals never stop learning, and you should view setbacks as learning opportunities.
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