The Truth About Having a Career in Social Media
You probably don’t know me, but most of you have read my tweets, shared my photos, liked my posts and watched my Snapchat stories.
My name is Janelle Arrighi and I am DECA’s communications manager. Aside from running DECADirect.org, producing DECA Direct, the magazine, and managing DECA’s Social Media Correspondent Program, I am also responsible for all of DECA and Collegiate DECA’s social media activities.
Yes, all of them.
Since joining DECA in January of 2013, I have sent over 20,000 tweets, shared over 1,500 Instagram photos, generated over one million Snapchat geofilters views and have gained over 16,500 new Twitter followers.
However, there is so much more to being a social media or community manager than just tweeting all day!
Think you want a job in social media one day? Here are my top four tips to keep in mind:
1. Writing is key, even if it’s just 140 characters.
Most of my job is reading and writing, all day long. Whether it’s a DECA Direct Online article or an Instagram caption, writing is writing no matter what form or medium. Sometimes the easiest writing task can actually be the most challenging too.
For example, I’m usually given announcements from DECA’s corporate partners to be shared on our social media pages. Seems simple enough, right? The truth is, turning multiple sentences or even an entire paragraph into a catchy, 140-character tweet, while also including a link, photo or GIF, isn’t as easy as it seems.
I truly believe creating informative and entertaining posts (that drive clicks!) is an art form, and a very valuable skill in today’s world. The ability to catch a reader’s eye as they’re mindlessly scrolling through their feed is a huge accomplishment, and is one that you should certainly gloat about on your résumé or during an interview.
When I was in college, I double majored in corporate communications and public relations, and never once considered I would have a career in social media one day.
However, the courses I took where I wrote countless press releases, relied on my AP Stylebook like there was no tomorrow and learned how to proofread like a pro are truly what have helped me the most in my current role.
If you find yourself dreading English class, avoiding your written assignments or ignoring common grammar rules, you may want to reconsider a career in social media. Although the digital world is constantly evolving, the English language is not. It’s truly important to have strong writing skills for any social media job, even if you’ll be using emojis half of the time.
2. You’ve got to fight for your right to tweet.
A job in social media certainly involves less math than other careers, but you do need to have a small knack for numbers and analytics if you want to really succeed.
The truth is, social media is still not considered a “necessity” by 100% of companies. That means that most social media managers have to fight for a place in their organization, and the best way to do that is by showing your value in quantitative data.
I look at DECA’s analytics almost daily, from how well our tweets are performing and how many people clicked on a corporate partner’s article, to how many views our latest Snapchat geofilter received and the response rates to our latest email campaign. Not only do I need to know these numbers, but understand them as well, because it’s my job to explain to DECA’s directors the difference between impressions and engagements.
So if you want a career in tweeting and Snapchat-ing, just be ready to also report back on how your awesome tweets and snaps made a positive impact on your organization and be able to back it up with factual data.
3. It’s not your typical, 9-5 job.
If you’re looking for a job that doesn’t follow you home at night, on weekends or even on vacation, then maybe social media isn’t for you.
Think about it – does your social media feed stop at 6 p.m. and start back up at 8 a.m.? No! That’s because countless social media managers around the world work very hard to ensure their brand has a consistent presence online during working and non-working hours.
I have published many tweets, Instagram photos, Facebook posts and more for DECA during my time at home, on vacation with my family and even on holidays. While the ability to schedule posts for most platforms continues to improve, there is something about live, in-the-moment posts that you cannot replicate with automation.
While this may seem like a huge negative, the truth is that I don’t really mind having to post or tweet from my couch at night.
These “off” times are actually when I see our followers being the most active in sharing or liking our posts, so I feel much more connected to DECA’s users when I can post something and watch the likes grow right in front of my eyes, rather than letting a computer do it all for me.
4. Even if something is brand new, you must know everything about it.
It seems that no matter how “new” something is when it comes to social media, people in my office turn to me for my expert explanation about what it is and how it works. That means I always need to be reading and learning about the latest updates when it comes to technology, apps and social media.
We have taken great strides at DECA to be on the cutting-edge of social media technology, but in order to stay at the top, you need to constantly be refreshing your strategy. That’s why I’m always searching for the newest way to keep DECA in stride with the rest of the digital world.
The key to being able to adapt to new technology is being knowledgeable about the new technology. You must be willing to be constantly clueless and simultaneously the smartest person in the room if you really want a job in social media. By this I mean you have to accept that you know nothing about the latest app, but you’re willing to Google it all day long so that you can talk about it in a meeting like you created the app yourself.
The key to a job in social media is a desire to always be learning, trying and exploring. From Google Glass and live Instagram feeds, to Snapchat geofilters and mannequin challenges, DECA has tried it all. Sometimes it’s successful, and sometimes it’s a flop, but social media is all about diving in head first and figuring it out as you go!
I truly believe I have the coolest job in the world. I go to work everyday and get to connect directly with DECA’s biggest fans – its members. Every retweet, favorite, like, view and share DECA receives is a reminder of why I love working so hard to create the perfect tweet or find the best GIF. A job in social media can certainly be tough, but every challenge has a truly rewarding outcome.
If you’re interested in a career in social media and are looking for some advice or tips, be sure to check out DECADirect.org or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Follow Janelle on Twitter @jjarrighideca.