Turning Your Social Media Skills into a Career

A lot of university students spend a great deal of time of in the social media, but probably give very little thought to the career potential that it has. Many businesses are discovering the virtues of the social media, and the ability it offers to reach out to large numbers of people at minimal cost.

This is a hands on activity, where you learn by doing. In fact, few universities offer social media programs, so learning “on-the-job” is the preferred way to do it. It is entirely possible that the time you’re spending on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, entertaining yourself and communicating with your friends, may be the start of a real world career.

What Kinds Of Social Media Careers Are Out There?

Turning Your Social Media Skills into a Career
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Social media careers are in a state of flux right now, in no small part because the whole concept of social media is so new. This is particularly true in the business world. Social media’s primary value until very recently was for entertainment and communications between individuals. It’s only the success that social media has enjoyed in these capacities that has attracted the attention of businesses. As the impact of the social media grows, we can expect increasing consistency in the careers that will be related to it.

From a business standpoint, social media is primarily a form of marketing. However, it goes beyond traditional marketing in that it attempts to engage people on more direct level. Social media usually involves an exchange of ideas, which is why hands-on positions are developing. A business may use the social media to improve their public profile, to increase awareness of their products, or even handle customer complaints. And like all forms of advertising, it’s part communication, and part entertainment.

RelatedHow the Social Media Profile You’re Building Now Could Hurt Your Job Prospects Later

Some of the social media careers that are beginning to develop include social media managers, online marketing managers, communications managers, social media coordinators and social media strategists. Some of these careers go by different names with different employers, and we can fully expect them to continue evolving as time goes on.

Learning The Popular Social Media

As a university student you are probably already well familiar with the more popular social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Google+. YouTube is gaining in popularity with businesses, as it’s appeal grows with the general public. If you’re interested in a social media career, you may want to start developing a deeper understanding of these media. That includes learning how to build a targeted following, tracking metrics, using social media tools (more on that the minute), as well as learning how the various social media interact with one another.

Related: Don’t Overlook Self-Employment as a Career Option

The bottom line with all of the social media, from a business standpoint, is how to convert social media activity into clients and revenue. That will require that you go deeper than simply using the social media for entertainment and communication. You’ll do those things in a social media career, but you’ll have to take it to the level of being able to convert it into new business.

Learning Social Media Tools

As it is a growth industry, the social media is also creating related tools. Spend some time getting familiar with these applications now, that way you can build on your experience as time goes on. Some of the more important ones include:

WordPress. This is a simple application that enables you to build simple websites, even if you know nothing about building sites otherwise. A career in social media may require some ability to build a website, and WordPress will help you do that.

Google Analytics. This is a popular tool used by nearly everyone who has a commercial website. It enables you to track web traffic, including sources, webpage destinations, and frequency. It can be an excellent way to track advertising campaigns.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Not an application (though there are applications related to it), but a methodology for improving site performance with the major search engines, like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. It largely uses techniques to increase website visibility, and therefore, traffic.

Social media management platforms. These are web platforms that enable you to manage and automate your social media activity, such as scheduling Twitter Tweets days or weeks in advance. Popular platforms include Hootsuite and TweetDeck, but there are others.

Become Skilled With Internet Advertising

Due to the high cost of mainstream media advertising, such as TV, and the declining effectiveness of the print media, businesses are increasingly turning to the internet for much or most (and often all) of their marketing and advertising. As a social media expert, you can spearhead those efforts.

Social media sites typically offer advertising to their clients. By researching and understanding how these work, you will improve your ability as a social media manager. You’ll need to know how to write compelling social media content, including titles and headlines, as well as integrating effective photos and videos where necessary.

Related: Why University Students Need a Career Mentor

In a real way, a social media expert is really the 21st Century equivalent of an advertising manager.

Working In Social Media While You’re Still In University

If you are interested in making social media a career, you’re in luck. Since the industry is still in its infancy, there are all kinds potential opportunities. You may be able to get a part-time job or a consulting arrangement with a small business to manage their social media participation. You may be able to do this while you are still in school, since the work is primarily done remotely.

And even though you may not yet consider yourself an expert, the fact that you participate in the social media already, know where to get answers, and have done some research will put you way ahead of the business owner who may have no idea how it works.

Any experience that you can get while you’re still in school may be all that’s needed to qualify you for a career type position at graduation. After all, right now not many people are doing this kind of work at all.

Developing Your Own Website Or Blog

One of the best ways to learn social media from a business standpoint is to start your own website or blog. This will force you to become active in the social media as a means of promoting your site. Eventually you’ll even learn how to manage the promotion in a way that will generate revenue for your site. Once you do, you’ll have a basic understanding of what it is a social media expert would do for a small business.

With your own website or blog, you begin to learn about everything we’ve discussed so far – how to use the social media to generate traffic, how to advertise, how to create content, and how to use various applications.

From having your own website or blog, you can pick up one small business as a social media client, and then add more as you gain knowledge, experience, and exposure. In addition, a website or blog is excellent way to market your skills as a social media expert. It’s a form of an online resume.

Have you ever thought about a career in social media?

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