Sep 25, 2018

How to Kickstart Your Social Media Marketing Career

by Digital Marketing Institute

Are you a digital marketing graduate looking for a new specialization? Or a mid-career professional looking to make a change and spice things up a little?

Social media is essential to any organization's marketing and customer success strategy. While most businesses realize this by now, many are still struggling to find people who can truly make social media work to their advantage concerning engagement and revenue.

So, if you love social media, the good news is that there are plenty of jobs out there. There are even six-figure managerial positions available for those who are more experienced and can grow (and show) their business and leadership skills.

But beyond your pure love of social engagement, how do you move forward with a career in social media? We'll share a few tips here that will help you get noticed and gain the competitive edge you'll need.

Are Your Skills Suitable for B2B or B2C?

Social media strategy and management is certainly a role that will continue to be in high demand, but to make yourself stand out from the crowd, you might want to consider where you're best suited – marketing between businesses or marketing to consumers.

Social is used by 83% of businesses for B2B strategy, and it works well in this sphere because people trust their peers. If you think about entrepreneurs and small businesses, there are plenty of people that do (or will) need support in this arena as they grow their start-ups.

What does social media do? It helps a business connect with current and new clients. Lead generation is hugely important, so as you refine your role, you'll want to be able to show that you can generate leads for the types of companies you want to work for.

You’ll want to have a core understanding of things like:

- How to incorporate trending topics into your existing content strategy

- Which influencers are relevant in your industry or area

- Where your intended and current target audience is

- How to do customer research well so that you truly understand your customer's pain points

Once you understand how businesses use social media to connect, you can then start building your strategy. Through this process, you will gain a better understanding of how small businesses and entrepreneurs interact, a skill that you can take with you almost anywhere.  

Choose a Specialization

It's crucial that you choose a topical niche or a specialization to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competition. It’s true that sometimes companies are hiring people with a more general knowledge of digital marketing, but it's also true that more and more companies are using social media for particular purposes, such as devoting an entire Twitter account to customer service functions.

According to The Left Bank, content producers of all types are in demand and will continue to be. So, if you have specific skills in specific types of content production, you can leverage those qualities to market yourself.

Let’s take a look at video as an example. Video is something that will continue to bring big results for social engagement. Social Media Today predicts that 80% of Internet traffic will be video by 2019. So, if you love video, try to gain the relevant experience and ensure that potential clients and employers know you have these valuable skills and can use them as a part of an innovative content strategy. 

Follow People in the Know

Visualize where you want to be in 5-10 years and follow people in your field who are already there. There are plenty of people who have established themselves in various fields, and if you like their style and want to learn from them, social media engagement is a great way to do so.

Social Media ExaminerCopyblogger and Sprout Social are just three of many websites that you'll want to follow for information and ideas about how to enhance your social media strategy.  

Understand Influencer Marketing

If you're going to specialize in social media, you'll need a firm understanding of what influencer marketing is and how you can use it to build customer relationships.

Influencers are people who partner with a brand to be a sort of informal spokesperson. The influencer chosen for a brand must represent both the brand and target demographic in an authentic way. You should understand the person’s reach and message, as well as the type of engagement they have with their audience.

You can also look at case studies to gain a better understanding of how various businesses use influencers, partnership campaigns, or other engagement techniques to boost a brand's image.

If you can show that you have led a successful influencer campaign, or that you understand how to contact and network with them, you must add this detail to your resume!

Practise Content Creation

Content can come in many formats, with blogs, images and videos being the most basic types. But these days there are more options to choose from and plenty of new ways to engage with audiences.

Temporary content like Instagram Stories is an example of a simple way to connect instantly and authentically, and even add some creative elements in such a way that shows your personality.

You'll also want to ensure you have at least a basic knowledge of image and video editing as well as the associated tools and platforms. 

PhotoshopCanva and iMovie are great places to start when it comes to learning more about visual production.  

Take Your Personal Branding Seriously

For freelancers and independent entrepreneurs, personal branding is a must. But what does this really mean? For starters, it means sharing your knowledge with the world so that you build credibility and trust with future clients and employers.

Branding efforts could be as simple as designing your own free WordPress site and then linking that and your social channels to a Medium blog. Or if visuals are more your thing, you can always focus on Instagram and Pinterest as a means of sharing your portfolio. The trick is to find innovative ways to get exposure and become known for a particular area. 

In addition, it's key to demonstrate that you understand not just how to “use” a given platform, but be completely clear about engagement strategies, audience statistics, and even your process for market research. You should be able to demonstrate your skills at the drop of a hat. Imagine that you could have a spontaneous discovery call or interview on any day, and always be prepared to show your work.

Volunteer Your Social Media Services

There's no time like the present to jump into a new project, and many organizations would welcome extra help. This need is mainly present in non-profits and start-ups that may be extremely busy and struggling with funds.

Here are some ideas for getting more experience with social media marketing:

- Choose an organization that you feel passionate about and genuinely want to promote, then reach out and offer to help with their social media.

- Offer to help a friend who has a small business or a non-profit with their social accounts in exchange for an excellent learning experience.

- Keep track of everything you’re doing, your successes (and mistakes), and push yourself to learn.

- Offer to help a company or friend design a social strategy if they don't already have one.

As you take on small unpaid projects, you'll not only build your portfolio, you’ll also help the company out, which is a win-win experience. To avoid any mistakes or negative results, make sure that they are clear about their social media goals from the start.

One of the benefits of being a social media professional is that you have plenty of options for freelancing and even working remotely with companies. If this is something you’re looking for, you’ll have to bear in mind that you will need to be aggressive about personal branding and marketing because there will be plenty of competition out there.

That being said, if location is not an issue for you, you might have an easier time finding smaller, entry-level projects to build your portfolio.  

Learn, Learn, and Learn Some More

Online learning has never been easier than it is today. There are plenty of courses available online to get you started in the world of social media and content marketing. 

You may also want to consider working toward an official certification in a particular area of digital marketing. Having this on your resume will give you a headstart, but it's always important to dedicate yourself to learning your own way as well.

Job shadowing, internships and volunteer positions are great opportunities to learn on the job as well, so why not find a few companies that you admire and reach out to inquire?

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