I am a career chameleon. I have worked many years in the rewarding field of education as a Psychologist, Sign Language Instructor and Interpreter, Parent and Teacher Trainer and much more. I LOVE the milieu of education. It is one of the most “warm fuzzy” careers you can have because you are able to make a difference in the lives of students on a daily basis. Yet, it also can be stressful (very) and with the add on of responsibilities outside of the prevue of education being placed on teachers, many educators are leaving the field. To some degree that was me – ten years ago.
Admittedly, I was ready for something ELSE. Something that wouldn’t result in burn -out. As it so happened around that time I developed sign language products to help novice learners, especially parents and First Responders. I used social media to market these products and amazingly – they sold like hotcakes! YES! This was the catalyst that I needed to find my “second” career. And, due to crazy twists and turns in my life, I landed into the world of social media.
Fast forward, now I want to take this opportunity to share (and educate) others about what I have learned working in social media this past decade. Consider this the “inside scoop”…
Point 1: To have a social media career is to know that social media as a career is not about making random fun posts but about constructing a well thought out strategic plan for 1-3-6 months – at a minimum.
This is a profession that is not for the weak of heart or for someone who requires a lot of sleep. The first step is to become educated. What are the nuances of each of the most used and requested social media platforms? My advice – learn about them and their algorithms and analytic programs. Become an on-going student of media and marketing as these are professions that change on such a rapid basis that it may make your head spin. And lest not forget about the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations.
Sidenote: If you are involved in social media for pay or product – this is a must read! Start by clicking here for FTC guidelines for brands and influencers.
Take away: A career in social media is not about the “posts” but the strategy behind the posts.
Point 2: Posts should be meaningful and client/ product centered.
When you work in social media, unless you are a key influencer and are making a living doing so, chances are you are working for a client representing a brand. It is important to remember that you (or your agency) have been contracted or employed by a brand to work on their behalf. This means that your focus is on the client. Every day you will be looking at their competitors, curating related content, creating eye-popping engaging posts, and analyzing the impact of your campaigns. Unless you are instructed to be part of the campaign – your face (literally) needs to be out of the picture.
Take away: Focus on your client if you truly are a media strategist.
Point 3. There is social media in other countries. Know what is popular there.
The mistake we often make in social media in the USA is thinking that the only social media platforms “worth” anything are the ones we use here in “Old Glory”. Not true. If your brand wants to connect with an international audience then you need to familiarize yourself with these (among others), too: MIXI (Japan) and Youku (China).
Point 4: Social Media is a profession. Don’t dilute it by working for free
If you have read this far chances are you want to work in social media and that means needing to getting PAID. No one will take you seriously if you give away all your expertise. This also doesn’t help grow social media as a profession. Gratis work for an occasional friend or non-profit is considered “ok” – but be cautious. And, you are worth more than just a few dollars for your knowledge.
Point 5: Get professional liability insurance.
This is a profession where you most likely will be a freelancer. Suppose that you work for a client who feels your strategy “didn’t work” and wants to now take you to court for “breach of contract”. I highly recommend having liability insurance and also a legal team to help you – “just in case”. While there are many good insurance and legal service companies / individuals, I use Legal Shield for legal services and HISCOX for professional liability insurance coverage.
Point 5: Be CLEVER! Use your own content or give credit where credit is due!
Almost every person has a cell phone. It also is one of the most important “tools” a social media manager can own in their personal arsenal. BE CLEVER! Use great apps and computer programs to architect social media campaigns with animation, gifs, video, images, graphs and much more that will be “eye popping” and keep your audience engaged!
Most importantly – give credit to where your content was curated. If the photo is not your own – let people know that! If the quote you used was authored by someone else- make sure you acknowledge them.
Point 6: Have Fun!
It is no secret that my work in social media includes being a social media correspondent. The opportunities I have been afforded has allowed me to meet, greet, interview and often become friends with many who are in the entertainment, tech and media verticals. People often think “all I do” is work as a social media correspondent. It has been a “ton of fun” to create campaigns and events that are high profile or to attend them as a social media reporter/ correspondent.
Below is a sample of where you may have seen my “work” as either an attendee or correspondent.
The US FESTIVAL 1982: I had the pleasure to work with ICON Television and Music to help build their social media presence and create an event for their official film premiere. This was an exciting event as the film’s story is about a two weekend musical event solely paid for by Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of APPLE. (Check it out on Amazon and other online stores.)
SUPPORTING SOCIAL GOOD CAUSES with SOCIAL MEDIA
RACE TO ERASE MS GALA
Below you will see photographs I have snapped from the ORANGE CARPET at the 2016 annual gala for ERASE MS. I simply love this organization and am proud to have donated my time to help them promote about resources for those with Multiple Sclerosis and the medical advancements made to help those who have been diagnosed with this disease and related disorders.
iPain Foundation Gala
The iPain Foundation helps those who have chronic disorders, such as Lupus or RA.
Nyle DiMarco Foundation for Sign Language Support for Parents and Deaf Children
This foundation is near and dear to my heart as helping families to learn how to communicate with their Deaf child with sign language (ASL) has been one of my life-long career goals.
In closing… I hope that this article has enlightened those who wish to pursue a career in social media. And remember that this career is not for everyone.
The educator in me wants to leave you with some last nuggets of information:
- Follow reliable online tech and media outlets (Mashable is one of my favorites)
- Join groups that help to educate without judgement on Facebook and especially, Linkedin.
- Remember with social media, like with almost everything else – is dependent on knowing your business by being educated. In other words… education does matter!
Good luck! And remember life is too short – so do what you love. I am lucky… I get to work in both EDUCATION and SOCIAL MEDIA!