Fifteen years ago, the thought that social media would be so valuable for businesses that entire careers would revolve around community building and on-platform ad management was unthinkable. The field is now thriving alongside the boom of social platforms, so the career growth opportunities here are extraordinary.
Careers in social media marketing are booming to the point where they’ve made CNN’s top 100 careers with big growth, and with the increasing importance of organic and paid marketing on social channels, this isn’t something that will be changing anytime soon.
Curious what exactly this career growth looks like and if it will be consistent enough for you to venture into it? In this post, we’re going to take a look at everything you should know about the expanding social media career growth patterns in terms of prominence, popular position titles, and even what you could reasonably expect to make.
How Expansive Is the Growth of Social Media Careers?
We’re not kidding when we say that social media careers and all the potential surrounding them are booming. Businesses across all industries need to be able to connect with their target audience and form strong communities if they want to be able to actually stay in business. This is what leads them to social media practitioners, which is a valuable form of marketing and community building all in one.
All the data out there supports this, too, showing social media marketing as a rapidly growing career option across the globe.
We’ve already mentioned that CNNMoney added social media marketing positions to their Top 100 careers with big growth, noting a 9% increase in job growth over a 10-year period. According to LinkedIn, there has been an unbelievably 1357% increase in social media positions listed on the platform since 2010, which shows an even more rapid growth over the past decade.
In 2016, Burning Glass reported that there were 174,141 postings calling for digital marketing skills, which made up 39% of the 443,440 marketing positions overall. Jobs with “social media” in the description have also tripled over the past year.
That’s not all, though; it’s important to note that marketing factors that include social media are growing faster than other types of marketing positions. Digital marketing has grown about 30% faster than other marketing positions.
These jobs aren’t just a temporary boom; they’ll be stable, because social media has changed how businesses market with their consumers, so there will be a permanent need here, no matter what the economic landscape looks like.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved this, as businesses needed social media workers more than ever to stay on top of increased virtual and social communications with their clients.
Social Media Salaries
Social media salaries vary depending on a number of different factors, including the following:
• Your experience
• Whether you work for an agency, a private company, or you’re self-employed
• Your location
• Your position and role with the company
If you’re promoted all the way up to a position like Chief Marketing Officer for a major company or run your own successful social media freelance agency, it goes without saying that you’d naturally be making more than an entry-level social media worker who curates data for high-profile clients’ feeds.
Regardless, social media marketing jobs can pay well; digital marketing skills can yield around a $7,000 salary premium compared to other marketing roles, and social media fits under that umbrella.
No matter where you’re at, though, the salary is a good one. Some reports estimate that the average salary will be AU$62,387, with a range of $46k-81k and potential performance bonuses. You can see the range by experience level in the image below:
This is obviously a big range, and true entry-level positions at larger companies may come with slightly smaller paychecks, but the growth potential to increase income is absolutely there.
Job title can have similar variations. Social Media Managers, for example, have a range in Australia of $50,000-100,000 with an average of $70,000 according to LinkedIn and current job postings.
Social Media Strategists, on the other hand, have an average base salary of $84,000, with a range of $50,000 to $120,000. There may be overlapping skills, and applying for jobs with a different title can help you see a big pay increase quickly.
The 8 Most Common Social Media Jobs
If you’re hunting for jobs, typically typing the search phrase “social media marketing” will pull up plenty of listings that are a relevant match for your skill set. This gives you a big advantage, and a potentially very wide pool of jobs to apply to, which is always excellent.
There are a few specific roles, however, that you’ll see mentioned again and again. Let’s take a quick look at each one.
As we’re going through our list, however, note that a lot of these positions have some massive overlap; the distinctions are subtle, and brands using the terms may be looking for similar qualities, skills, and responsibilities to doll out depending on their specific needs.
1. Social Media Strategist
Some jobs are just looking for a “social media worker,” but if you see “social media strategist” in the description, that’s a sign that they’re looking for someone who can help develop and execute cutting-edge strategies to liven up or maintain their social media. Strategists may be responsible for proposing ideas like pitches for contests or suggesting to launch a Story campaign or branded hashtag to generate awareness.
Strategists may have the head honcho in their department, though they’ll often report to someone else for approval depending on the location.
2. Social Media Manager
Social media managers are typically going to be involved in being hands-on in social accounts doing everything from scheduling posts to handling engagement and monitoring reports. This title is sometimes given to a lead in an internal department, but it can also be given to someone working for an agency where they’ll be handling plenty of client accounts.
3. Community Manager
Community managers are often held responsible for establishing and growing a community, sometimes online and offline. A community manager for a local gym, for example, might come up with challenges to entice participation and social proof, and they’ll foster a Facebook group just for members by offering up valuable training tips and health information that their audience would love.
4. Social Media Consultant
Social media consultants are typically freelancers or employees of agencies (making it hard to find official job listings for this exact title), and they’re most frequently going to be offering consultations around strategy. Consultants may or may not be hired by clients on an on-going basis, and they’ll often spend a lot of time working with clients who are either brand new (and choosing which platforms and strategies to use) or those who are ready to scale to the next level.
5. Brand manager
Brand managers are typically going to have responsibilities inside and outside of social media. They’ll work with other digital marketing workers, too, to help define or refine a brand across every touchpoint users may encounter the business on. This includes your website, your email campaigns, and of course, social. They often play a heavy hand in strategy, but the big focus is on creating and enforcing a brand audiences will love.
6. Social Media Analyst
Social media analysts (sometimes called “brand analysts” if the job goes beyond social) are all about the data. Typically, these jobs are going to be focused on looking at current and past campaigns and assessing how effective they may be. They’ll look at everything from on- and off-platform engagement to get a feeling of what’s working and what isn’t.
Analysts typically offer suggestions in addition to just creating reports about how to improve campaigns moving forward, and they’re particularly important once expensive PPC campaigns and a lot of ad dollars come into play.
7. Digital Marketing Specialist
Digital marketing specialists can end up wearing a lot of hats, including social media practitioner. They’ll often be responsible for executing multiple cohesive campaigns at once, which may involve things like content marketing campaigns, PPC campaigns, and organic social campaigns that all weave together well.
8. Chief Marketing Officer
If you work hard to rise in the ranks, you can make it up to a company’s chief marketing officer position. These positions are prestigious, and you won’t just be overseeing social media marketing work; you’ll have to look at how all the puzzle pieces fit together, including SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, overall web presence, and more. Social will still be an important part of the job, but you’ll likely be handing off a lot of the duties and actual social media work to others on the team.
The Skills You Need for a Social Media Career
In order to find success in the social media world (and, to be frank, a job), it’s not enough to have simply been a user on social platforms for years. You need to have the right skills to execute strategic campaigns that will accomplish business goals that go beyond “get likes of my new puppy.”
Let’s take a quick look at the skills you’ll need.
Knowledge of the Platforms Themselves
Each social media platform is different, with its own unique set of best practices, rules, and mistakes to avoid.
Here are a few examples of what you need to know before you should start seeking a social media marketing career:
• How each platform’s algorithm prioritizes content
• What’s happening with organic reach on each platform
• Which platforms are best for your client’s business based on performance, audience, and type of content posted
• How inbound and outbound links are treated on the platform
• Extra features (like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Pages) that should be used
The only way to get this knowledge is through hands-on work or an extensive social media education like what we offer here.
Strategic Skills & Experience
Do you know how to look at a client’s current performance, their audience, and their goals and then determine how to get where they want to go?
This is an essential skill to have because higher-level social media marketing positions require more than just posting daily for the sake of it.
You should be able to create a diverse content calendar that’s optimized for each platform. You’ll also want to know about strategies like setting up branded contests, when to use influencer marketing, going live to nurture relationships, and more.
Familiarity with Native & Third-Party Business Tools
Do you know how to navigate Facebook’s analytics, or how to schedule posts for Instagram ahead of time?
Do you know the steps involved to set up an Instagram shop, or how to establish Rich Pins on Pinterest?
Will you be able to adapt to third-party tools like Agorapulse or Hootsuite, or contest software like ShortStack?
You want to know how to use each social media platform to the fullest, both with native and third-party tools.
Social Copywriting Skills
Think fast: How many characters do you have in a Facebook post before it’s cut off on mobile?
Do know when you should use hashtags and when not to?
Copywriting is an important skill for social media marketers, and you need to know how to write social copy in particular that’s short, accounts for platform character restrictions, and abides by best practices to maximize reach and engagement simultaneously.
Practice writing copy that feels natural, is non-repetitive, and doesn’t focus on cheesy, “salesy” language like “It’s Your Last Chance to Buy Now!”
Graphic Design Skills
Not all social media marketers need to have design skills, but if you can use drag-and-drop design software, you’re at an advantage.
Some businesses will want original graphics and images creation, even if it’s simply quoted on backgrounds or a basic infographic.
While this skill isn’t needed for all positions, it is a plus to have, especially if you’re working on your own either as a freelancer or an employee instead of part of a large team.
Basic Copyright Knowledge
This may seem minor, and it’s a small part of your job, but it does matter.
Did you know that you can’t just share images you found online to your social media? You also need to be careful about which songs and video clips you use in video content on all platforms, including YouTube.
Copyright is something to consider, and all original content published online is protected by copyright.
You can learn more about this here, but it’s important to understand before you get started or you could land your employer (and yourself) in hot water.
How to Get Social Media Marketing Experience
Have we made our field of work sound appealing enough yet? Social media marketing is growing quickly, making it appealing and sometimes resulting in a little bit of competition to get the best jobs out there.
In order to break into the field, we recommend doing the three following things…
1. Get the Education
Get the education and certifications in social media marketing.
Not only will having those diplomas help you stand out from your competition, making you more appealing to potential employers, but you’ll also have a lot more strategic, technical knowledge than most of the people you’re up against.
You can learn more about the courses we offer and what’s right for you here.
Which brings us to step number two…
2. Get Strategic
Too many self-proclaimed social media marketers are happy to just slap together random posts because they sound nice and upload them to the platform. This isn’t enough, however, to drive actual results with social marketing.
Prove that you have the knowledge to do something different and engage and nurture leads on different platforms. During an interview, offer examples demonstrating your strategic knowledge, like explaining how you could use in-feed organic posts to send traffic to Stories campaigns that will have links to send users to your site.
Small examples of strategic knowledge can help you get new work, whether you’re applying to a full-time job or are trying to win a freelance contract.
And this brings us to step number three…
3. Get Some Samples
It’s hard to start when you don’t have a lot of work experience, but do what you can to build a portfolio so that you can show potential employers samples of what you can do, both in terms of posts you’ve created but also campaigns that you’ve run.
Though many might not be paid or may not pay well for first-time workers, you can typically find fast and easy freelance gigs that will give you some room to build a portfolio early on. You could also start your own social media channels so that you have full control, and an instant link to send clients or employers to if they ask to see samples of your work.
4. Look for Small Businesses That Need Help On a Budget
While all labor deserves to be paid for fairly, the reality is that sometimes it’s difficult to break into a career with limited experience.
I got my first writing gig on Craiglist, and it only paid $15 for an entire article, but it also gave me my first sample that I was able to leverage to higher-paying work and an eventual career.
Ask around, and let friends and family know that you’re looking for work. There are plenty of small businesses that have a few hundred dollars a month that need help with their social media management.
If you are in the financial position to do so and are struggling to get a full-time job, taking on lower-paying opportunities as long as you can get a testimonial or share the samples can pay off, but make sure that you aren’t signing any contracts that forbid you from doing so.
In addition to small businesses, you may also have luck offering pro-bono services to local nonprofits. This is a great way to give back while honing your skills, and plenty of employers love to see this.
Social media marketing careers have grown unbelievably fast in the past decade, keeping up with the rapidly growing platforms and their rapidly evolving audience members, too. With brands increasingly realizing that they can’t hire a 16-year old intern to tweet into a void in order to get results on social, more are turning to both in-house and external social team members to help them connect with their customers in meaningful ways.
This is a field that’s growing quickly, but if you’re adaptable and agile, there’s so much room to grow within it. Being quick on your feet, having a basic understanding on human psychology, and having a passion for staying up to date with the latest and greatest in marketing trends and technology could make you an outstanding fit for these jobs. All you have to do is start with the right education, and then we can help you take it from there.