Learn about a career as a social media specialist

Social media specialists help create and maintain a public online presence for their organizations, which can be a small business, a multi-national company, a celebrity, a sports team, a university or another entity. According to Forrester, social media investment will grow faster than any other digital marketing channel in 2019, presenting many opportunities for professionals who want to pursue these roles.

An online Bachelor of Science in Marketing can provide students with expertise that can assist them in providing value to their organizations, from communication and critical thinking skills to behavioral and sociological insights that help determine why, how and when to interact with online audiences as representatives of a public figure, company or brand. With this knowledge, graduates can seek vital social media-based employment opportunities across a range of industries.

What does a social media specialist do?

Social media specialists can hold in-house, agency or independent consultant roles as they develop strategies, implement campaigns and generate reports from social media platforms for their companies and clients.

A social media specialist job description typically includes the ability to manage multiple accounts and deliver creative content. Social media ad campaign managers show a return on investment with quantitative key performance indicators, such as impressions, shares and leads captured via social posts. A social media specialist may also complete any or all of the following tasks:

  • Set up and promote a new account, page, group or community on a social media platform
  • Create and manage social media ads for paid reach, as well as research and determine target audiences for such campaigns
  • Post original or curated content, including text posts, polls, images, videos or linked third-party content for informational or engagement purposes
  • Reply to comments on posts, moderate discussions and respond to direct messages
  • Analyze metrics, create reports and present results on a brand or its competitors

Social media specialists often complete tasks beyond their core competencies, such as the duties of an advertising expert, a customer service representative and a community manager. They also collaborate with other members of the public relations and marketing teams. Social media professionals coordinate with these peers to manage a brand’s reputation and improve consumer awareness.

“I think having a social media presence is critical because it is oftentimes the first thing people see if they Google you, or if someone has a negative experience, the first thing that they're going to do is probably tweet at you,” says Grace Hoy, an ASU Online graduate of the BS in Marketing program and social media manager for the Kansas City Chiefs. “But then it's also a way to get your information and your business in front of other people who may not necessarily seek it out, especially if they have a friend who shares a piece of content.”

This assertion reflects the market conditions spurring the prominence of social media in business- and consumer-facing markets. Such risks and opportunities require professionals who can capitalize value on this channel.

wo social media specialists collaborate.

A closer look at the professional landscape of a social media specialist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ career outlook for social media specialists, increased use of social media as a way for businesses to communicate with the public has prompted a spike in the number of related jobs. Due to social media’s popularity, candidates face a competitive job market, but they can find roles in numerous industries, including hospitality, entertainment and consumer goods.

The BLS groups social media specialists with other types of public relations specialists, which includes digital engagement specialists, social media strategists and online community managers, and projects 9 percent job growth between 2016 and 2026. The average salary for a public relations specialist was $59,300 in 2017, and the number of related openings between 2016 and 2026 could increase by as many as 22,900 jobs.

How to become a social media specialist

Students seeking careers as social media specialists must demonstrate communication, marketing, social and project management skills. Naomi Castronova, an ASU Online graduate of the BS in Marketing program and social media community specialist for PetSmart, explains that “the ideal candidate is someone who can adapt quickly, is creative and can think outside the box, and who can learn from data and feedback.” Whether they specialize in social advertising or community management, candidates will be required to prove their value in the following areas:

Specialists must remain cognizant of the fact that they are representing their organization or client with every post and comment and should structure their communication accordingly. “You need to have a really good knack for writing and proofreading because you cannot put something out on your page that has an error. In the age of the internet, it will live forever,” mentions Hoy.

Hoy went on to say a curiosity for learning proves essential in staying informed of platform and user behavior changes. Specialists must desire to understand these shifts and seek out the best practices to address them. With formal education, prospective social media professionals can gain this adaptability and strategic expertise to earn positions in this competitive field.

  • Strategic planning: These professionals need the ability to develop evidence-based social campaigns, as well as use methods like A/B testing to draw insights from data.
  • Creativity: Social media job seekers must show they can create and curate brand content that leverages best practices and increases engagement.
  • Social media acuity: Specialists require familiarity with established platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as which customer personas and strategies best suit each one.
  • Communication: Applicants should have the ability to produce clear written communications and responses to promote their company or client brands and provide customer service via social channels.
  • Decision-making: Critical thinking helps specialists pivot their strategies and improve campaigns based on results and changing platform features or guidelines, such as Twitter increasing its maximum character limit.
A social media specialist wearing a dark tie works on a laptop at a desk.

Learn more about your potential career as a social media specialist

The ASU Online Bachelor of Science in Marketing can prepare students for careers in the constantly evolving field of social media management. Graduates who seek careers as social media specialists can learn about behavioral analysis in strategy creation, market research and more to develop or update campaigns and produce measurable results for their future companies or clients. Actionable analytics and other courses can give them the tools to interpret data and use it as a guide for future campaigns.

Many individuals understand the basics of social media given their personal use of the platforms. However, candidates with the strategic expertise gained from a bachelor’s degree in marketing can differentiate themselves in the job market as competition rises for this growing role.

Sources:
Bachelor of Science in Marketing Degree by ASU Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook for Public Relations Specialists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Outlook for Social Media Specialists by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics US Digital Marketing Forecast, 2014 To 2019 by Forrester

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