Getting paid to play on social media all day, sounds like the ultimate dream job right? Well, there is a lot more to social media management than actually being on the platforms themselves. For those of you who don’t know, I work full time at a creative agency coordinating social media and content creation. At my agency job, my time is mostly spent researching upcoming trends, brainstorming new strategies, going over analytics, and communicating with the rest of our team. While every aspect of my job isn’t fun and glamorous, I still absolutely love what I do. Social media and digital marketing is an incredible industry to be in because it is the future and can be applied to any industry you’re interested in.

So, you want to be a social media manager but have no idea how to get there? Here’s some advice based on my experience as a Social Media Manager.

Weigh the Pros and Cons of College

When I went into college (fall 2012), I didn’t even realize that social media was a career option. I went to a small private school in north Texas and majored in mass communications with an emphasis on advertising and PR. Unfortunately, the program was very heavily weighted towards journalism, which was absolutely not the direction I wanted. If you are set on going to college, I recommend majoring in anything along the lines of communications, marketing, or business. However, if you are a driven person, I absolutely don’t think that a college degree is necessary in the social media and digital marketing world.

Create a Killer Portfolio

If someone’s hiring a social media manager, they most likely will not be impressed by your paper resume. Anyone could say they took a class in social media or that they did a social media internship, but what hiring managers really want to see is your passion and your proof of work. Create a digital portfolio (Squarespace and WordPress are both great platforms) and show off your best campaigns, analytics, and all around skills.

Know More Than The Basics

I’ve sat through so many social media interviews where the interviewee literally has told me, “I have an Facebook and an Instagram, so I’m pretty familiar with how they work.” Cue the facepalm! Being on social platforms does NOT in any way mean you know anything about strategy, content creation, or the big picture of how digital marketing works. After all, there are over 1 billion people on Facebook! Be ready to explain how you use social beyond personal use.

Brand Yourself, Brand Yourself, And Brand Yourself Some More.

When someone searches your name in Google, they should should be able to find your website very quickly, along with your social platforms. If potential employers have to hunt for you online, why would they believe you could represent their company on social? There is nothing wrong with putting the majority of your effort on a specific platform you love, but be sure you have a basic presence on all platforms. If you haven’t started branding yourself yet, choose something you’re interested in to be theme of your content and create away!

Know Paid Social

While every social media manager wants to get the most out of organic traffic, everyone in the industry knows that to some degree, you have to “pay to play”. Even if you don’t have much money to invest in ads for your own accounts, do lots of research on the ad platforms. You can still play around with creating audiences and the other ad manager features without actually running the ads so you can become familiar with them. I came out of college knowing absolutely nothing about paid social and it would have definitely been beneficial if I had.

Educate Yourself

Whether you go to college or not, you are ultimately responsible for educating yourself in this industry. Thankfully, there is an endless amount of resources on the internet. Take initiative and follow blogs, join Facebook groups, watch webinars, subscribe to Youtube channels, and digest as much informational content as possible! Educating yourself doesn’t stop once you get your first full time job, a huge part of my job is researching trends, new tools and resources, and more. Click here to view a list of resources I recommend.

Create Lots Of Content

Content marketing is HUGE. Learn to create lots of different types of content whether it’s writing blog posts, taking photos, creating illustrations, editing videos, or recording podcasts. You may not be satisfied with the quality of the content you create at first, but the great news is that you will only get better with practice. It is also important to not get caught up in what equipment you have (or don’t have) to work with, it is incredible what you can do with just your phone! When starting out, I definitely encourage you to carefully consider how you invest money into gear, because it can add up quickly. Two of the best investments I’ve made over the years is my DSLR (I primarily shoot with a Canon 70d and 50mm 1.2 lens) and the Adobe Creative Cloud (if you are a student, be sure to take advantage of the student discount).

Network and Collaborate

Everyone is told to network when they are looking for a job, but I believe it is even more important in the social industry (hence the name). Work hard to build relationships on and offline because the industry isn’t all about shaking hands with people in a luncheon, it’s also about collaborating with people online. Collaboration will help you learn from others, build new relationships, expose your brand to more people, and show potential employers that you can work well with others. Start out by doing some projects for cheap/free to gain experience, build your portfolio, and make connections. The majority of my freelance clients found me through mutual connections, which always reminds me about the value of collaborations. Plus, who doesn’t love to make new friends?!

Love what you do

I know so many people who have worked extremely hard through college, got the perfect internships to set them up for success, and were hired at their dream company. However, once the newness of the job wore off, they realized they didn’t want to spend the rest of their life in that career. Your skills, connections, and resume will only get you so far if you don’t have a passion for what you do. As the social media industry grows and becomes more competitive, your passion is what will set you apart from the crowd.

Are you pursuing a job in social media? I’d love to hear about the steps you are taking right now and also answer any questions you might have! Please leave them in the comments below!

Are you currently working in social media? What advice do you wish you could give yourself when you began pursuing a career in the industry that I didn’t cover? Please leave a comment below!