The Drum’s reporter, and former social media executive, Amy Houston breaks down some top tips for landing your dream social media job, as well as speaking to experts about how they got their start in the industry.
Over the last few years, there has been an influx of exciting new opportunities within the social media sector. The sheer variety of positions can potentially feel a little daunting for someone who is fresh out of university or just looking for a career change.
Like any career, the road may have a few unexpected twists and turns. My career in social was anything but linear. I studied textiles at Glasgow School of Art, worked in photography for a number of years, before making the leap into the world of social media. Now, in a sort of full-circle way, I’m a reporter at The Drum covering creative.
If you are looking to start a career in this field some advice I would offer is to educate yourself as much as possible. Read up on new platforms, trends and insights, lean into the skills you already possess and use them to your advantage, make connections (LinkedIn is your friend) and talk to your peers.
“I would say that the most important skill to succeed in a social media role is to have a creative and analytical mindset,” says Juliet Leah, digital marketing manager at Gather Social Limited.
“Surround yourself with people who have different skills to you and empower them to be the best they can be.”
A lot of times social media teams can be small, so it’s important to have a network of people that you trust and can go to bounce ideas off or ask advice.
“Make your own experience. Social media is in the palm of your hands (it’s literally on our mobiles)," says Mollie Lyons, social media manager at connective3.
"You have access to the tool that can create a career for you in social media just waiting for you. Make your social account and trial out strategies and techniques, look at online courses, start with a freelance client, reach out to agencies for internships.”
Good communication is a key skill for people working in social, you need to know how to engage with your audience but also how to effectively work with all the different departments in your organization.
“In this career, you’ll be talking to clients, account teams, strategy teams, creatives. It allows you to see things through from start to finish and have large ownership over the process,” adds Katy Smith, head of social strategy at MK21.
“Listening is one of the most important skills you will need. You’ll be working in a team all with different skills and priorities that you’ll need to synthesize down to reach the goal”
Setting boundaries is a must. Most of us use social media in our personal lives so the lines between work and free time can often become blurred.
“The social media industry is taking over the marketing mix,” notes Lyons. “Social doesn’t sleep and therefore there needs to be more safeguarding or understanding of a Social media manager's role allowing for a work-life balance something that many social managers struggle with across the industry. “
Don’t be afraid to take risks and embrace changes until you find the role that is right for you – there are so many businesses out there that can benefit from your unique skillset, say our experts.
“Don’t let yourself get too overwhelmed. One social media position might be completely different from another and that can be scary,” echoes Holly Payne, social media executive at Designhouse.
“Breathe, and learn everything step by step. It takes time but you’ll eventually find yourself at a place where you are confident in your social media knowledge.”