How to become a social media marketing specialist

How to become a social media marketing specialist

Social media is becoming ubiquitous. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit: Believe it or not, the majority of Americans uses at least one of these sites. In fact, according to Pew Research's Internet Project, 73 percent of adults 18 and over use social networking sites. Given that opportunity, businesses everywhere are trying to reach new customers through this medium, and the job options for social media marketing specialists are growing. If you live and breathe social media and think you can help businesses effectively reach these people, this is a career path you might want to consider.

What social media marketers do

As a warning, it's more work than your average day browsing Facebook. Social media marketers use these communal websites to:

  • Promote content using link-building, advertising, sharing and guest posting
  • Drive traffic to a company's website
  • Identify demographics using social analytics
  • Engage and interact with the target audience

This could range from posting a Facebook status promoting an event to interacting with a key influencer in your field on Twitter.

How to become a social media marketing specialist

Because social media is a relatively new field, there aren't many marketing degree programs in social media specifically. But because social media jobs incorporate both marketing and writing, there are several bachelor's degree options that can be beneficial to you and desired by employers. They might include:

  • Marketing
  • Public relations
  • Strategic communications
  • Journalism
  • English

These related traditional degrees from sponsored schools may also be a first step toward pursing a career in social media marketing:

Communications degrees from University of Phoenix

Marketing degrees from Post University

Marketing degrees for Rasmussen College Online

You might also benefit by interning or working at marketing and PR firms or even just writing for your school newspaper — whatever it takes to demonstrate your communication skills and marketing ability to potential employers.

And, of course, employers will likely want to see that you have a good grip on these social media sites specifically. Landing a social media job and not being active on at least a few of these sites (especially Facebook and Twitter) may make you a less desirable candidate for the job, so consider how you create and manage your own social media persona.

Schools that offer social media courses and degrees

Some colleges have started to offer both undergraduate and graduate courses and degrees in social media. These schools include:

  • Excelsior College
  • Rutgers Business School
  • New England College
  • Full Sail University
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Franklin University
  • Austin Community College

If your local college or university doesn't offer these courses or degrees, be sure to check out online education options that might suit you. But whichever route you take to become a social media marketing specialist, it's a career that can potentially pay off. PayScale, a third-party salary data website, reported that social media managers in the U.S. made a median annual salary of $45,164 in June 2014, and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of marketing managers to grow by 13 percent between 2012 and 2022. In other words, it could be a great time to become a social media marketing specialist.

For more information on how to become a social media marketing manager and to see an extended list of sources, check out the visual below.

Sources:

Social Media Marketing Manager Salary, PayScale.com,
http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Social_Media_Marketing_Manager/Salary

Social Networking Fact Sheet, Pew Research Internet Project,
http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Advertising, Promotion and Marketing Managers, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm#tab-1

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