How To Land a Job in Social Media

The commencement speeches have all been given, the tassles turned, the caps tossed. You have graduated from college. Congrats!

If your dream job post-grad is to work in social media (“What do I do? I get paid to tweet!”), listen up. Long gone are the social media skeptics, the dinosaurs who chalked up every new network to a passing fad. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Tumblr. Pinterest. They’re here to stay, and companies who get it need people who get it more than ever.

When I graduated college, Facebook had just been invented—I couldn’t even get an account while I was still an undergrad, because it wasn’t offered at my university yet (no idea what I’m talking about? Rent The Social Network, stat.). Twitter wasn’t even a gleam in Biz Stone’s eye. No one knew the word Tumblr, let alone why you wouldn’t put an E in there where it belongs.

Fast forward 10 years and I’ve managed social media accounts for brands big and small, created profiles and built audiences for companies and organizations that thought a tweet was just the sound small birds make. Now, as I sit on the other side of the interview table evaluating candidates for roles managing branded social media accounts, I know what I’m looking for. Here are some pointers:

Be On Social Media
This one may be a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed how many people apply for a Social Media Manager role who aren’t active on social networks themselves. Sure, they have a Facbook profile, but they haven’t tweeted since 2008 and aren’t really sure how to Instagram. If you want to manage my company’s social media profiles, I need to know you know how these spaces work.

Curate with Care
If you’re already on all the major networks, start getting smart about how you use them. No, your Facebook profile doesn’t have to make you look like a buttoned-up librarian. But it’s your network—why not make sure it makes you look good? Like a well-kept garden, weeded and trimmed, your social media networks should be approachable to whomever might be checking them out (and as a prospective employer, trust me—I am!).

If you really want to prove you know how to navigate the social media seas, get engaged! Have conversations with brands, follow thought-leaders in your chosen industry, participate in Twitter chats and Google hangouts. Get out there and get involved!

Be an Admin
One of the surest ways to show a prospective employer you know how to do the job is to have done it already. Do you volunteer at a pet shelter? Have a part-time job at a small business? Offer to create social media profiles for whatever group or company you’re already familiar with, a chance to build a local audience. Not only will you learn how to be the voice of the brand, but you’ll get access to the admin tools reserved for these kinds of profiles, giving you an edge when you start managing a company’s accounts.

Know The Tool Kit
Once you’re managing a page, feed or profile, familiarize yourself with the tools of the trade. There are several great applications and websites that aggregate feeds, help schedule posts, cross-promote content and follow trends on your behalf. Learn them, and you’ll earn your business cards before the first interview is over.

Do The Math
One crucial step wanna-be Social Media Managers forget all too often is the follow through. Like the second half of the swing of a bat, it’s as important to review how a page or profile is doing as it is to get the content online. Pay attention to which posts perform well and which ones don’t. Know how to talk about engagement rates, conversions and click-thrus. Be able to show me you know how to keep improving the way our customers interact with us.

Show it off!
Time to tie it all together. All your skills and experience aren’t going to get you anywhere if you don’t tell me about them! Brush up your resume, and don’t be shy about including your Twitter handle and your Tumblr address. Though you probably wouldn’t include these on a resume for any other job, when you’re applying for a role specifically in social media management, including your own profile links shows confidence and transparency. It also tells me you know what you’re doing.

Social media is potentially the single most awesome invention of the last decade, and it’s incredible that it has become an honest-to-goodness career choice for new grads. If it’s what you want to do for a company or organization, set yourself apart from the pack by being active, engaged and analytical on the networks of your choice. And before you know it, you just may be able to say you get paid to tweet!

Lisa Trifone works in marketing and PR for independent film in New York City. A traveler, movie lover and social media pro, you can follow her on Twitter (@LisaBeesa) or on her own blog for her take on all three (and more).

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