Careers in Social Media

Millions of people recreationally share large fractions of their lives on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites on a daily basis. And a growing number of those people are hoping to translate these skills to a career in social media. The good news is the field is growing extremely quickly, and employers are eager to hire savvy folks with skills in Social Media Optimization (SMO).

One of the most important things to remember when presenting yourself to employers is that social media presences for personal use often differ from those used by companies. Many individuals use FB and Twitter for personal branding -- and while companies are also looking to build brand equity, they are often most concerned with driving traffic to their sites. This means more links, tracking, and analysis not to mention less snark and fewer cultural observations. Some companies, especially startups, are supportive of employees tweeting and spending time on FB during the workday -- but when it comes to the corporate logo-centric accounts, customer service and public relations can be the main focus. Additionally, the VP of Marketing will almost certainly want to measure the return on investment of your time (translation: social media needs to create revenue), so keep that in mind.

The best way to prepare yourself for a career in social media is to open and cultivate presences on Twitter, Facbook, LinkedIn, and Foursquare; you should also be comfortable using WordPress and some HTML. If you havent already, open up a Twitter account and start attracting followers. Employers will often weigh your social media reach as a factor in the decision whether to hire you; the more people you have in your network, the more attractive you may be. Strong writing skills are also helpful; typos in tweets and status updates can be embarrassing. You should also understand how social media fits in to the general online marketing landscape. More and more so, social media is becoming a channel through which companies can drive free traffic. Accordingly, you should understand best practices of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how online content can help the business.

The best degrees for a career in social media would be marketing, business, and English though there are certainly no pre-requisites for the job. The best experience you can gain will be self-taught, on the computer by yourself, chopping down trees in the social media forest.

So keep tweeting while you get your resume ready

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