Social Media Strategists
Rapid growth in social media technology has resulted in jobs for marketing and public relations specialists who communicate a company's brand or vision through new media channels. Social media strategists develop and implement digital communications plans, public relations initiatives, and online marketing campaigns. Much of their success depends upon developing good personal rapport and strong online presence with other users of social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Many of these professionals work full-time with long hours.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Fields||Marketing, communications, public relations, journalism, or similar field|
|Licensure and/or Certification||Voluntary certification is available|
|Experience||Several years of related experience may be required or preferred by employers; varies by position|
|Key Skills||Interpersonal and organizational skills, problem-solving skills, research skills, and writing skills; expertise in the use of social networking sites; knowledge of web page editing and platform development; graphic and video editing software proficiency|
|Salary (2016)*||$49,786 per year (median annual wage for social media specialists)|
Sources: *PayScale.com, Houston Chronicle, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job listings from employers (August 2015), O*Net Online
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree
Employers typically require an undergraduate degree for entry-level positions in this field. Majoring in related areas such as journalism, communications, marketing, and public relations can help students develop the skills needed to communicate with a mass audience. Some colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs in digital communications, which cover topics like digital media writing and communication technology. Coursework in digital graphics, e-commerce, writing for digital media, and web authoring may also be helpful. Internships with public relations firms or industry organizations can also allow for professional development and networking, as well as expand on classroom training.
- Learn social media. Experience with social media and digital communications is necessary for most social media positions. While a degree program can provide the knowledge needed for this field, hands-on experience can be invaluable. Some organizations also host conferences and seminars on using social media in business.
Step 2: Build a Strong Online Presence
The most effective way to demonstrate understanding of social media to future employers is to establish an online presence on social media sites. Top candidates in this field are recognizable and active on several sites and project an image that is professional and polished. Developing this online presence on a site involves several steps, including filling out an engaging personal profile, contributing content regularly, and staying abreast of current trends to assure that the content posted is relevant.
- Make connections. The key to being an effective communicator on social networking sites is to make personal connections with other people online. Effective social media experts will visit sites frequently and become valued contributors by adding relevant content that others wish to read.
Step 3: Obtain Entry-Level Employment
There are a number of ways to gain employment as a social media strategist. Employment sites, such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com, may advertise positions in social media using a variety of different job titles, such as marketing strategist or digital content strategist. Social media positions may be full-time or part-time, and some contractor positions are available. Occasionally, corporate recruiters will identify potential future employees in this field through conversations they've conducted on general social networking sites.
Step 4: Pursue Certification
The Public Relations Society of America offers the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential, which requires experience and passage of an examination in public relations topics. APRs are required to keep their status current every three years by acquiring points in areas that include professional development and continuing education.
Remember, to become a social media strategist, you must earn a bachelor's degree and learn social media, build a strong online presence and make connections, obtain entry-level employment, and pursue certification.