Leveraging Your Creative Skills for a Job in Social Media

Leveraging Your Creative Skills for a Job in Social Media

If you’re looking to transition your career, here are some tips to best position yourself to break into the social media marketing industry.

Social media has already taken its foothold in many marketing departments. There’s less pressure to prove the importance of social media. Rather, the difficulty is to prove that investing in social media is worth it on a large scale. Because of this, it’s becoming more competitive than ever to break into the industry. Whether you’re a recent grad looking to start your career or someone looking to make a career switch, finding a way into the industry can be difficult. Additionally, there’s an influx of creatives looking to launch their own freelance social media consulting business. 

There’s no denying that people with creative experience can excel in social media strategy. Here are a few tips for breaking into the social media marketing industry. 

1. Use Your Current Skills to Your Advantage

Performance ConceptUse your skill sets to your advantage—incorporate them into your social media management. Image via VectorMine.

As with any career, there will be a lot of skills, tactics, and technologies that you may be required to learn to be successful in social media management. However, don’t let this discourage you. It’s likely you already have a strong set of skills that can help you hit the ground running. This is particularly true for those with a photography or design background. 

Photographers and graphic designers typically have a strong eye for good creative. This is crucial in the heavily visual landscape of social media. Additionally, most visual creatives are already well-versed in many of the more difficult technologies such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Bonus points if you can edit a video.

You’ll find many companies expect a social media manager to be a jack of all trades. That is, they’re often looking for someone who can do creative, write copY, parse data, manage influencer relations—the list goes on. Depending on the size of your company, a lot could fall on this position. 

Similarly, if you’re starting your own social media consulting business, many of your clients will likely expect you to be well-versed in many of those areas. Having a strong creative background and technical know-how will get you far. 

There are also soft skills with visual creatives that can greatly prepare you for a job in social media. For example, client relations translates easily to influencer relations by understanding how to talk to people. How to schedule and organize events and maintain strong relationships can be crucial for a job in social media. 

2. Building out Your Portfolio

Building Portfolio Make sure to include all of your skill sets in your portfolio. Image via SkyPics Studio.

Many people are unaware that applicants for social media jobs often have portfolios. Depending on your focus, the contents of these can vary. Typically, a hiring manager for a social media position is looking for someone with experience building out campaigns, designing creative, writing copy, and engaging with people online. We can break this out into three key areas: strategy, content, and community management. Typically, a task within a social media job will fall under one of these three categories. 

Take a minute and analyze your personal strengths. In your dream social media job, what would be your main focus? Maybe you’re someone who really loves engaging with people online. You find that you always have the funniest comment on posts, and you know the perfect emoji to use in every situation. You may find yourself succeeding most in a community management role. You’ll spend your time engaging with people online and finding the best ways to talk to and entertain your audience. 

Social Campaign Find your dream job by understanding and implementing your personal strengths. Image via cosmaa.

Or, maybe you’re not the social butterfly, but you’re highly skilled at making all the pieces fit together. You can take a big idea, break it out into actionable steps, then analyze the steps and optimize them for better performance. Someone who works on the strategy side of social media is talented at understanding trends, audiences, and business objectives. Then, they can take all that information and use it to inform a social media strategy that will best target the groups you’re trying to reach. Typically, a social media strategist is analytical. However, having a keen creative eye can help elevate strategy and be seamlessly implemented in practice.

Lastly, you might find what you enjoy most in social media as crafting content. You spend your time writing the perfect copy, designing the perfect creative, and finding the best ways to improve each time. A social media content creator is highly skilled in bringing the visual image of a social media strategy to life. You excel in execution. This area in particular is the perfect entry point for visual creatives.

While you may naturally gravitate towards one of these three areas, more than likely in any social media job, you’ll pick up skills and knowledge relating to all three areas. None of these areas exist in a vacuum. It’s important to make it a goal to continue to learn and grow in the industry. 

3. Getting Experience

Online Job Concept Searching for ways to gain experience? Get your feet wet by working as an intern or for a nonprofit organization. Image via FGC.

When applying to social media jobs or trying to book your first gig with a client, you’ll need to provide examples of prior experience managing social media accounts. This is particularly true for companies with large followings. However, it can be hard to gain experience without already having the experience to present. If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few options to help build out your first portfolio: 

Try for an internship, nonprofit, or startup. This can be a clever entry point into the world of social media. With internships, you have the opportunity to work for a larger brand while learning about the entire process of running a social media account—or, often the case, many accounts. Similarly, for a nonprofit or a startup, these may be teams that are already quite thin. They may be looking for some extra hands on deck to help manage their social accounts. Try reaching out to a few people on LinkedIn by sending out some cold emails to companies you’d potentially be interested in. Bonus points if you can provide some area in which you’d specifically be able to help their brand. Use mock campaigns. A mock campaign is a smart way to show your talents and intuition, without needing the approval to run a company’s accounts. With a mock campaign, you can pick any company that interests you to plan and design a campaign that targets their audiences. You can use programs like Photoshop or Shutterstock Editor to create mockups of potential posts. With your campaign, try to accomplish three things. First, identify a problem or opportunity that this campaign will address. Second, identify the audience that the campaign is targeting. Third, be clear about how your campaign, and specifically your creative and content strategy, will help to solve the problem or capitalize on the opportunity.Practice running one of your own accounts. Use one of your accounts or create a new account and work to grow an audience while demonstrating your talents in content strategy, content creation, or community management. Often, the best selling point when hiring for someone in social media is proof of their ability to grow or maintain an audience. Having actual data to back this up can only help!

As creatives, you already have a leg up in securing your first social media job or gig. By taking the steps to better position yourself, you can make the transition even easier. Social media marketing is an industry that continues to grow and evolve, and it’s never too late to get started.

Not ready to hop off the social media marketing train? Let’s keep going!

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Cover image via Sergey Nivens.

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