In this nonstop digital world, there’s no longer an off button to our lives. This has forced brands to become fluent in social media in order not only to stay relevant but also to keep round-the-clock tabs on the needs of their consumers. Since social media is now such a critical component of just about every business communication strategy, the need for people who understand how to utilize its business value has grown exponentially in the last five years. These positions can also usually be done just about anywhere, including at home, making them more conducive to flexible work schedules and remote options than other careers.
As a result of the high demand and enticing work environment, the pool of individuals flooding toward this career field has exploded, so you have to be at the top of your game as a bona fide social media expert. Here’s a guide to jobs for social media professionals—and what you need to know before applying.
Social Media Jobs
Did you know that according to Global Web Index, 30 percent of all time people spend online is devoted to user-generated content on social media? And if you’re a millennial, that percentage may be even higher: the average millennial spends 5.4 hours a day consuming this content, Entrepreneur reports.
Needless to say, there are plenty of potential employers seeking to cash in on such a wide and consistent audience by hiring social media experts. But what all forms do these experts come in? Let’s take a look at a few common jobs and their descriptions below:
1. Content marketing manager
Glassdoor currently advertises over 32,000 job openings around the country for this hot role. This type of digital marketing manager is generally responsible for creating all content marketing initiatives that drive traffic and user engagement to a site, and that includes social media campaigns.
Plenty of SEO know-how is required, as well as the attention to detail and organizational skills needed to shape editorial calendars and workflow. The most effective of content marketing managers balance creative vision with managerial precision, as you’ll need not only to conceptualize brand-appropriate content and social media campaigns but implement them, too.
The salary will vary pretty significantly based on location and experience level, but the national average clocks in at around $70K.
2. Community manager/community editor
Similar to content marketing managers, community managers, sometimes called editors, will create and implement a social media strategy designed to deliver a brand’s business objectives.
Where they differ from the first social media manager position, though, is that a community manager’s duties extend beyond internal social media marketing to include business to business to business (B2B) marketing, as well.
Perhaps because it’s a slightly broader role, there are more nationwide openings advertised on Glassdoor (about 186,000). Conversely, the average salary is a bit lower — $50,000 — serving as one example of when more specialization can be to your benefit.
3. Social media strategist
Like community managers, social media strategists create and implement social media strategies for their businesses. They also work on targeting users to grow their following toward the ultimate goal of gaining more clients and customers who use their products or services.
Engagement is key for this position. Social media strategists need to understand the best tools—from Facebook to forums—to engage their audiences.
According to Glassdoor, people with this title can expect to make $54,500 annually on average. However, social media specialists, who perform similar functions and tasks, report an average earning of $58,000.
4. Social media analyst
In addition to overseeing and implementing a social media strategy for their companies, social media analysts examine social media tools and trends to determine what might fit the business's brand.
They will also measure the efficacy of the platforms and audience reach of their platforms and strategies, as well as identify any holes or concerns within the business's social media strategy.
Many social media analysts have backgrounds in marketing and are well-versed in SEO, which is essential for gaining exposure across channels.
Glassdoor reports that the average salary for this job is $61,596/year.
While plenty of companies and media sites do actively keep blogs, it’s becoming pretty par for the course that the person (or people) responsible for maintaining these works on a freelance basis. In other words, if you’re interested in becoming a full-time blogger, you’ll more than likely need to write for a multitude of clients in order to make ends meet.
But hey, isn’t variety the spice of life? As with any freelance gig, there’s plenty of control over your schedule when it comes to blogging, which is a definite perk. What you’ll likely find you have less control over is compensation — Glassdoor lists the average blogger’s salary as just $30K.
In theory, you could beef this figure up by stacking more clients onto your workload, but it’s probably wise to test out blogging as a side hustle before you ditch your day job. That said, there are certainly plenty of people who’ve made a pretty penny off of their own blogs, but that typically comes (if it comes) with time.
Social media has done nothing short of transform the way the public sees and interacts with major brands and celebrities, and in the grand scheme of things, it’s happened essentially overnight.
The distance that formerly separated celebrities from their fans and brands from their consumers has more or less vanished with the advent of social media platforms like Twitter, and this can be both a good and bad thing.
On the one hand, a much closer relationship can be cultivated. However, all it takes is one status fail (or several; see: Donald Status Fail Trump) for a brand or celebrity’s image to be thrown into jeopardy. Therefore, it’s essential that public relations professionals today can dually function as social media strategists, both for the sake of advertising opportunities and reputation control.
7. Brand Ambassadors
If you’re someone with a strong social media presence who practically lives on their social media channels, why not make a buck or two off it as a brand ambassador? As experts in social media marketing, brand ambassadors use their personal brand to rep a company’s brand to their own large audience of followers. The type of ambassador who gets paid is commonly called an “influencer,” a term anyone who’s familiar with Instagram is doubtlessly aware of. People tend to trust influencers thanks to the fact influencers engage with them daily on social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Being this influential on social media is a powerful thing, indeed, as a brand or product mention with a positive context from you is likely to draw tons of traffic their way. Pay for these fairly informal positions runs the gamut, as both small and major brands have been known to use brand ambassadors, and the amount of compensation you’ll get is directly correlated to the size and attractiveness of your follower base.
Some companies may have designated social media copywriters, while others may fold social media responsibilities into a general copywriter's day-to-day responsibilities.
As a copywriter, you'll right engage copy promoting your brand's services or products. Since most organizations need a strong presence on most social media channels, you'll likely be composing short messages to post regularly.
Salaries vary considering depending on the organization, industry, and type of copy the copywriter writes.
You can search for social media positions on most job boards, but some of my favorites include:
Instagram can also be a great tool for finding social media roles, especially if you have a particular company that you’re interested in. It’s becoming more popular for companies to share job postings here, especially for more creative brands. The salary range in social media can vary greatly. Since brands of all shapes and sizes are now hiring for social media gurus and online brand ambassadors, compensation can change based on the size and type of the company, as well as your years of experience.
According to Glassdoor, the national average salary for a social media job in the United States is $47,190. Generally speaking, larger companies (including those in the tech and entertainment industries) tend to pay on the higher end of the scale compared to most startups and nonprofit organizations.
For these types of industries, you might expect to receive almost double the national average, depending on your location and background.
Skills Social Media Professionals Need
You’ll need more than just a passion for digital media storytelling and social media trends to succeed. Here are seven key characteristics for someone working in social media:
1. Excellent communicator
You need to be able to write clear, compelling stories that tie back to your company’s mission or objectives. A demonstrated ability to craft digital-friendly and effective communications between yourself and a company’s consumer base is, in many ways, the reason a potential employer will show interest in you.
2. Flexible and able to adapt quickly
Social media platforms are public and allow for instantaneous content, so social media managers (or persons filling a similar role) must be able to adjust messaging as needed at the drop of a hat.
For example, you could be expected to respond to unexpected crises or react to larger issues occurring in the world that affect your brand or consumers. Employers need you to juggle it all, and quickly.
3. People person
Relationship building is absolutely essential for social media managers. An innate ability to help foster community is critical for building a digital following. This includes crafting replies to questions and comments (positive or negative) from followers.
Brand influencers (like bloggers) are also an important piece of social media strategy, so being able to develop partnerships and have effective conversations with them is valuable.
4. Comfortable with the idea of always being “on”
Since social media is a continual loop of conversation, anyone on a social media team should be prepared for the potential of long work days. This includes responding to messages from social followers outside of the normal 9-to-5 business “open” hours.
Content is king, so being able to imagine new, interesting ways to communicate with an audience is important. You don’t have to be an artistic genius — just able to think outside the box.
Managing and growing a brand’s social media footprint requires an ability to stay on top of the needs of each individual platform (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.).
That can mean developing and updating multiple editorial calendars, keeping straight what gets posted when and how, and creating content that coincides with greater initiatives or events in a timely matter.
7. Able to see the larger picture.
Trends come and go fairly quickly in the social landscape as technology evolves, as do people’s interests and digital habits. Being able to look forward and imagine what impact content may have and how it’ll be consumed by your audience is critical.
Above all, set yourself up for success by being familiar with social media best practices, and be prepared to show what you’re made of through consistent, quality content and community engagement.
— Joelle Zarcone (bio below)
Fairygodboss Editors note:
Why not try:
1. Educating yourself — but maybe not in school.
When it comes to filling a social media coordinator position, experience definitely outweighs education. That’s because this industry is such a rapidly evolving one, and most traditional colleges and universities’ social media savvy remain severely behind the times (which isn’t entirely their fault; curriculums do take time to create/approve, and things often change overnight in digital media).
Of course, as with most professions, having a four-year bachelor degree — in communications or marketing, especially — can’t hurt you in your job search. But a hire manager looking to fill a social media position will likely care more about your online personal brand and your ability to maintain a strong social media presence than they will about your college GPA. Are you a job seeker who’s never worked in digital media before? Gain the experience you’ll need to attract employers by building up your own social media accounts or try out the digital marketing industry as a social media intern or part-time worker first.
Since this line of work can be done from literally anywhere with an internet connection, it’s something you could potentially do on top of your current job, too.
P.s. Did you know that jobs within social media can be particularly pay-friendly to women?
That’s the case for influencers, at least. This type of social media specialist has actually been dubbed the only profession where women consistently out-earn men. A study conducted by the marketing agency Influencer found that Insta-famous women are out-earning their male peers in the U.K. by more than 35 percent, thanks to better paid sponsored content and brand collaborations.
According to the agency’s data, a female influencer with at least 100,000 followers can earn up to £41,600 (or, about $53,300) for just two sponsored posts a week. Male influencers, on the other hand, earn on average only £31,200 (about $40,000) for the same efforts.
Of course, there’s no limit to the amount of sponsored content one can post weekly (look to the Kardashian Klan for proof of that), so it’s reasonable to say these earning estimates err on the demure side.
Whether you’re already a social media specialist or still a novice job seeker, all you need to start making social media work for you is wifi. What are you waiting for?
Joelle is a writer, editor, and registered yoga teacher living in southern California with a passion for celebrating the messiness of life through storytelling. She holds a MA in Journalism from New York University and loves a well-written sentence, brunch, and staying active. To read more of her writing, visit her website www.joellezarcone.com.