Does the thought of Tweeting or Facebook-ing for a living sound enticing?
Most people in the social media business find that job satisfaction in their careers comes from being part of a new media that significantly enhances the way businesses reach and communicate with their consumers.
However, being a practitioner of social media is a very different experience from being a user of it.
While it helps to be familiar with using the various social media platforms, building a career in this space requires additional perspectives and insight from a business, public relations and marketing communication standpoint.
Most significantly, it requires the ability to adapt to the rapid changes that define the space.
So if you are considering a career in this niche, ask yourself these questions:
Do you enjoy a hands-on sort of job?
Do you find satisfaction in learning new things in rapid succession?
Will you be comfortable knowing that whatever you know as a fact today may no longer hold true the next day?
Do you enjoy being in a sea of constant change?
Does consumer behaviour and interpersonal communication interest you?
If your answer to all these questions is yes, then a job in social media might just be right for you.
Social media career paths
Jobs in social media can be broadly classified into strategic and managerial.
As with most categorisations, they are not cast in stone and actual job positions available may be a combination of both, depending on the organisational structure of the hiring company.
A strategic social media role requires you to have a vision of larger business or communication objectives, such as raising brand awareness or educating consumers about the product.
Also important is the ability to define the role that social media will play for the company and viewing it in relation to the other existing and traditional channels that the business employs to communicate with its consumers or prospects.
A managerial role is complementary in that it requires in-depth understanding of the actual workings of the various social media platforms and subsequently devising and executing the appropriate approach to take.
More commonly known as social media managers, these positions require you to play the role of a friend, a guide and the police to the consumers in a social media community.
Being a friend involves interacting, engaging and facilitating discussion within the community.
Being a guide means effectively sharing information or dispensing advice to the community.
And lastly, being the police ensures an adherence to the rules of engagement and the effective resolution of conflict situations.
Branding yourself for the job
There is no better way to look for a social media career than to start using social media itself, so make your mark on career-related social networks like LinkedIn.
Ensure that your photograph and resumé on display are updated and, more importantly, that your privacy settings are minimal or deactivated.
You would not want to have a prospective employer pass up contacting you just because you prevented him from accessing any information about you. The key is to be found, and for the right reasons.
Next, it is not simply about where you are, but how you are positioning and branding yourself on social media.
Start by looking at what information is publicly visible on your social media platforms and questioning if it would encourage or deter a potential employer from getting in touch with you.
Remove any content that could potentially undermine your job hunt.
Last but not the least, use these channels to flaunt your expertise and knowledge of social media. Share industry news and updates or voice your opinions on trends you have noticed in the industry.
As new platforms emerge, it is essential to recognise the unique strengths of each and build networks that best leverage those strengths.
The fundamental principles of business, marketing and communication remain the same as with any other channel.
What makes social media particularly exciting is the urgency that comes with real-time conversations and the immediacy of response and feedback from your audience.
Know your business and whom you want to reach; pick the right mix of platforms; offer value; and be honest, clear and concise.
These basic steps for social media success apply to both businesses and individuals.