Are you considering a new career as a social media specialist, but aren’t sure if it’s the right role for you? Look no further. We’ll help you figure it out in this guide.
Changing careers is no small feat, and it’s important to know as much as you can about what a particular role might entail before you even consider making any decisions about retraining in new skills, or leaving your current job.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know in order to answer that one big question: Should you become a social media specialist?
You’ll learn about the industry as a whole, what the job of a social media specialist entails on a day-to-day basis, the skills, knowledge, and qualifications employers are looking for in candidates, and some of the natural qualities and passions of those who tend to thrive in this position.
Finally, we’ll be offering some clear steps that you can take right now to start your career off on the right foot, and ensure you’re heading in exactly the direction you want to go.
Here’s a breakdown of this post, so you can skip to the section that interests you the most.
- Is social media marketing a good career path?
- What does a social media specialist do?
- What skills and qualifications do you need to be a social media specialist?
- Are you a good fit for a career as a social media specialist?
- How to become a social media specialist
- Key takeaways and next steps
Ready? Let’s go.
1. Is social media marketing a good career path?
Before you consider if you’re a good fit for a career in social media marketing, it’s important to think about what the field can offer you. Let’s take a look at whether or not social media marketing can be considered a solid career path.
Industry growth and job security for social media specialists
If you’re looking to change paths in your career, there are few better choices in terms of job security and industry growth than social media marketing. With users spending more time in front of their computers and phone screens than ever before, every industry in the world is looking to harness the power of social media marketing to educate, inform, entertain, and, most importantly, convert users to their product or brand.
While the influence and value of social media marketing doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, job roles and opportunities in social media marketing are also exploding. A social media specialist can progress into more senior positions in the field such as social media strategist, or social media manager, or move into other positions in the digital marketing team, such as content strategy, data analysis, or SEO.
Put simply, the career growth opportunities and job security for social media specialists is pretty well guaranteed, as increasing numbers of companies, from small local stores to large corporations, continue to benefit from the impressive results social media marketing brings about for customer acquisition and business growth.
What kind of salary can social media specialists expect to earn?
As in any job, salaries for social media specialists vary from company to company, and country to country. What you receive in your pay packet every month will also be dependent on your experience, qualifications, and number of years in the field.
We’ve covered this topic in more detail in our social media specialist salary guide, and for now, here’s an overview of salary data for social media specialists.
Here’s what some leading job search and recruitment sites say you can expect to earn on average per year as a social media specialist in the U.S.:
- Glassdoor: $46,933
- Payscale: $45,662
- Indeed: $41,901
- ZipRecruiter: $43,666
Here’s the average social media specialist salary for some locations outside of the U.S. :
- Germany: €42,348
- Canada: CAD $62,739
- Russia: 645,709 ₽
- Mexico: 377,000 MXN
- South Korea: ₩32,504,181
General job satisfaction
Aside from hard metrics like salary and market growth, it’s important to consider the less measurable (but equally important!) matter of job satisfaction. Here are some of the benefits that come with a career in social media marketing:
You can work in pretty much any industry
One of the more overlooked benefits of a career as a social media specialist is the breadth of choice it offers in terms of industries you can work in. It is no exaggeration to say that pretty much every industry needs some sort of social media representation, which means that if you have the right skillset and knowledge, you can cherry-pick the industries that are most interesting to you. Whether you have a passion for healthcare, media, tech, government, the environment, education, retail, or the charity sector, your skills will be in demand in every industry.
You’ll enjoy plenty of variety
As we’ve seen, social media specialists can work in multiple sectors, with their sought-after skills bringing about a huge variety of choice in terms of what kind of environment they want to work in, the impact they want to make, and the subject matters they want to be diving into on a daily basis. But the variety in this career doesn’t end there. A social media specialist has a wide range of different tasks and responsibilities to execute each day too, from creating and planning attention-grabbing social media content, managing online communities and dealing with user enquiries or issues, to nurturing influencer relationships, and measuring and analyzing the results of social media campaigns.
You can exercise your creativity
It’s no coincidence that many writers, artists, and filmmakers are attracted to roles in social media marketing: this is a team that requires great ideas and oodles of creativity to capture the imaginations of audiences and convert followers into customers. As a social media specialist, you’ll be expected to brainstorm your ideas with the team, and create imaginative and compelling campaigns using eye-catching visuals and persuasive, creative slogans and copy.
2. What does a social media specialist do?
A social media specialist creates and publishes content on a company or client’s social media platforms, usually focusing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Sites such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, TikTok, and others, will also play a part, depending largely on the interests of a company’s target audience. Other tasks involve community building, influencer outreach and relationship-building, and the measuring and analysis of social media campaigns.
The social media specialist’s overall goal in posting regular content and building communities on social media is to grow an audience, build a brand’s awareness and authority, and convert and retain customers, in doing so boosting a company’s overall reach and revenue.
Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of social media specialists, taken from real job advertisements, include:
- Execution of social media strategies
- Research the latest social media trends and platforms
- Create, publish, and share content across platforms
- Build and manage a social media content calendar
- Establish and nurture influencer relationships
- Create and manage active communities around a product, lifestyle, or brand.
- Track, measure, and analyze campaign results
- Set and align social media goals with the social media marketing team that meet the needs of the business
3. What skills and qualifications do you need to start a career as a social media specialist?
Due to the multi-faceted nature of this position, a social media specialist requires a mixture of interdisciplinary skills, knowledge, and experience to succeed. Let’s take a look at some of the top skills you’ll need to become a social media specialist.
Top skills required for a career in social media
A social media specialist needs to master a mixture of hard and soft skills to meet the required criteria of this varied role. Some of these skills can be learned once you start the job, or via your own research and practice, while some of the hard skills are likely to require a short course or job-specific training.
Social media specialist hard skills:
- Competency in using the main social media channels
- Experience in social media campaign building that aligns with company goals
- Excellent written communication skills for the creation of text-based posts and customer interactions
- Deep understanding of third-party publishing and management tools
- Proficiency in social media content strategy
- Skills in community management and influencer relationship-building
- Knowledge of the most common social media management tools
- An ability to measure, analyze, and present results
Social media specialist soft skills:
- Strong interest in social media trends
- An aesthetic sensibility and some knowledge of graphic creation
- Able to communicate appropriately with different stakeholders, from marketing management to customers and fans
- A strong eye for detail
- Excellent organizational skills
- Ability to problem solve creatively
- Passionate team player and a supportive, collaborative attitude
What qualifications do I need to become a social media specialist?
Although you don’t need to have a digital marketing degree to land a role in social media marketing, some skills-based training and education is advantageous for those hoping to launch a career in the field. Whether that’s getting to grips with tools and processes, learning the latest trends and how to spot them, or how to build successful campaigns and track results, having proof of these skills demonstrates to employers that you don’t just know what you’re doing, but that you’re also 100% committed to your new field and career path.
There are different routes you can take to acquire the necessary skills. That might be via a more formal route, such as:
- A digital marketing bootcamp (we’ve rounded up some of the best digital marketing bootcamps here)
- An online digital marketing course
- An internship
Or it might be a self-learning method, for example:
- Reading online digital marketing tutorials and blog posts
- Building a marketing portfolio to showcase different projects you’ve worked on
- Studying successful social media campaigns for ideas and inspiration
You can learn more in this round-up of the top social media specialist skills.
4. Are you a good fit for a career as a social media specialist?
Now we know what a career in social media involves—and what you need to get started—let’s get to that all-important question: Are you a good fit for a career as a social media specialist?
It can be hard ascertaining your suitability for a role before you’ve taken the plunge and started job-specific skills training, or landed a new role. However, there are certain factors to consider before you make a decision. To give you an idea of how well you’d fit into this role, we’ve put together some questions you should consider asking yourself before making any changes.
- Are you excited by the prospect of learning new things? Are you naturally curious? Curiosity and a desire to learn are central components to working in social media marketing. You’ll be expected to get to grips with new tools and skills, as well as stay up to date with online trends. If learning gets you excited—whether that’s learning new tools, trends, processes, or communication styles—then a role as a social media specialist could be right up your street.
- Are you social? It goes without saying, but a desire to communicate and connect with an audience lies at the heart of the social media specialist’s role. You’ll need to instigate discussions, encourage debate, ask for feedback, and answer every kind of question about the brand, product, or individual you’re representing. If you enjoy engaging with different communities from every kind of culture and background, you’ll likely enjoy working in social media!
- Do you like unpredictability? Any profession that involves working with people is guaranteed to contain some element of surprise. In this role, you’ll be expected to troubleshoot, problem solve creatively, and manage the expectations of brand followers and fans, as well as stay on top of the regular demands of social media specialization. If you enjoy working with people and not knowing exactly what each day will entail, this could be the role for you.
Hopefully those questions have got you thinking about your natural interests and qualities, and how they might play into the social media specialist role. Now let’s consider some concrete steps you can take to start your career in social media marketing.
5. How to get started in social media marketing
We’ve put together some simple steps that you can take right now to help build your experience and acquire the skills you need before you launch a career in this sought-after industry.
Step one: Work on your personal brand
Your own social media channels are a great opportunity to show off your skills and passions before you’ve even had a one-to-one conversation with a company or HR team about a social media specialist vacancy.
Consider building your personal brand by:
- Creating a complete profile on every popular social media channel
- Posting engaging content that demonstrates your interests
- Being active
- Growing your audience
You can learn more about how to build your personal brand in this guide.
Step two: Build on your knowledge of the industry
If you’re not quite at the stage to start a formal course of learning, now is a good time to teach yourself some of the tricks of the trade via blogs, podcasts, and tutorials.
Here are some ways you can learn more about social media marketing:
- Try out some tools. Check out: Google Analytics, Facebook Ads Manager, Hootsuite, BuzzSumo, HubSpot, Sprout Social, Buffer, and Keyhole
- Read some blogs! Our favorites are: The Future Buzz, Social Media Today, Rebekah Radice, Mari Smith, Jon Loomer, SocialMedia.biz, Ask Aaron Lee, Social Media Examiner, Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang, The Moz Blog, Peg Fitzpatric, Socially Sorted, and Neil Patel
- Listen to podcasts. We recommend: Masters of Scale, Social Pros Podcast, Savvy Social Podcast, Social Media Marketing
- Attend meetups for social media marketers
Step three: Take a course
A course in digital marketing is the ideal way to gain both knowledge and practical experience in social media marketing. Many courses teach their students via a combination of personal mentoring, coursework, and projects, with regular assessments and feedback rounds built in. Upon completion, you’ll have a portfolio showcasing your work and a certification to demonstrate your commitment to this career path and to show to potential employers.
Step four: Monitor social media trends
If you’re applying for a role as a social media specialist, your future employer will want to see that you know what their competition is doing, what’s popular with their target audience, and what social media trends are coming around the corner in their industry. They’ll want to see evidence of experimentation and your ability to analyze, so that as their social media specialist, your output stays relevant to their users and bang on-trend.
Try out some of these sites for monitoring trends: Google Trends, TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Cyfe, Tumblr, Reddit, and Top Hashtags.
Step five: Build your own campaign
Putting together a social media campaign or passion project gives you a great talking point in interviews. It also gives you the chance to experiment with different techniques and tools, test your content, learn from mistakes, and build on your knowledge.
Depending on what your passion is, here are some ideas you might want to put into practice in your campaign.
- Curate a YouTube channel
- Create an Instagram account
- Launch some sponsored posts on Facebook, or put together a Facebook Ads campaign
6. Next steps
We hope that this article has helped you form a clearer idea of whether a career as a social media specialist is the right one for you.
If you’d like to learn more about this multifaceted and rewarding role, check out our complete guide on how to become a social media specialist. It covers everything you’ll need to know about a career in the field, as well as offering advice and tips to those starting out.
You may also be interested in this free, self-paced short course, which will give you a better insight of the more practical aspects of working in social media, and digital marketing as a whole.
Want to learn more about a career in marketing? Check out the following: