JOIN THE CONVERSATION: STARTING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CAREER

It’s indisputable. Social media is the most important communications channel to emerge this century. Less than a decade ago, it was unheard of; now, it’s ubiquitous – Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and countless others, all bringing people closer together.

Social media is about online conversations, and businesses are scrambling to join in, so it presents excellent careers for driven people. Here, we give you some advice on being one of them.

1. Study your field

Universities have been quick to see the potential of social media, and knowledge is a huge advantage. Foremost is the E-Marketing and Social Media degree offered by Middlesex University, but there are other universities who have similar courses.

Beyond academia, industry bodies also offer social media courses, including Econsultancy, the IPA and the CIPR.

2. Identify opportunities for experience

There’s an abundance of work experience opportunities, especially in marketing agencies. Many specialist digital agencies, such as LBi and Code Computerlove, have dedicated social media teams. Other networks, including McCann Erickson, are also beginning to offer social media roles.

Increasingly, more clients are also bringing social media in-house. From FMCG to leisure, brands need the expertise of business-savvy social media professionals. So introduce yourself and get some real experience.

3. Create your own conversations

The first thing employers look at is what you’re doing now, so engage in social media on your own initiative. Create your own blog: it could be about anything, as long as it interests other people. Get hands-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other influential networks. Follow social media professionals, join their conversations, and create your own by sharing fresh content.

4. Remember: you’re in business

Employers’ foremost concern about social media is ROI. To create a compelling argument for your career, ensure that you can glean real, financial, business benefits from social media. This is even more essential if your ultimate goal is to start your own social media business.

5. Keep up with the community

Social media changes every day, so keep up with emerging trends and sites, and become a source of expertise and inspiration. You aren’t a ‘guru’ or ‘ninja’ – if you want to be taken seriously, you should be a professional, staying abreast of what’s new and what’s next.

This isn’t an exhaustive guide for breaking into social media. But with these tips, you’ll be at a distinct advantage for a career in a burgeoning industry – one that’s set to be the future of business.