To all of you who think that working in/with/around Social Media is the cool, trendy, easy thing to do – I want to put things into perspective for you on how difficult it can really be. There are a few things you should keep in mind before embarking into a career full of questioning, confusion, and constant change. I’m putting this forward because it would have been something I would have liked to have known before I got into it – naive as I was. I guess a lot of this can be said about starting any new career – young and “inexperienced”.
Be prepared, people won’t take you seriously
Now… I’m not saying all people won’t take you seriously, but there are few who won’t. While they will listen to what you have to say and your so-called ‘expertise’ – inside they will think you are a joke. I mean, really… how can anyone have a serious job that consists of Facebook-ing and Twitter-ing all day. Darned kids and their technology.
People will also think you’re just like the flocks of other ‘Social Media Guru’s’. You know the kind, your company paid $100/HR hiring this person, and all they got were some Facebook posts and a pat on the back. We’ve all been scammed by someone who made you believe they knew what they were talking about, when in reality they knew nothing of business strategy and probably couldn’t tell you what ROI means.
Having ‘Social Media’ in your title devalues you
Don’t expect to be making the big bucks just cause you work in this cool and up-and-coming industry. You will actually start at a lower pay-grade then some of your peers who ventured off into different markets (most of the time). While your title may sound cool, your bank account will not be. The people who work with social media who are making the big-time money are usually seasoned business consultants, with 10+ years of experience. They also know how to adapt to these ‘bubbles’ because they’ve been through the dot-com era, the email marketing phenomenon, etc.
Understand the path you want to take
There is no social media position to rule them all. Actually, social media is (or should be) a function of all departments. You could be a Community Manager, a Marketer, PR, Business Strategist, eCommerce Specialist, VP, SVP, CEO… whatever tickles your fancy.
I’m sorry, but there is no degree (that I know of.. although I’m sure some ‘last-chance-internet-college’ has one) in social media. It’s not a job, it’s a tool. Be an expert in something of value and just add social media as a layer. Understand what you studied, what area you are most interested in – and see if social media fits in that area of expertise.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do – but it took me a long time to understand why I was doing it and where I wanted to be. The reality of the matter is that social media is always changing – you almost can’t keep up. You end up developing severe ADD because there’s a new Facebook or Twitter feature or your phone is going off because 1200 people re-pinned your cheeky pin on Pinterest.
I work towards creating better business, not better social media tactics/strategies/’insert-buzzword-here’. Having a good social media strategy adds nothing of value to a bad product.
I implore you ask yourself what your motives are while you’re searching for this dream job – and understand the realities of what it’s like. Ask yourself the important questions, and that will set you on the right path.