So, you want to be a Social Media Consultant…
During my time working in social media, I have had a few people approach me and inquire how to become a social media consultant. After chatting with with my colleague, Kirat Chungh, she had been asked this as well – so, we thought we would answer some of the most common questions we hear about how to enter into this field and start working as a professional.
We’ve done a Q&A format so that we can both give you our own experiences and answer the same question.
Q&A with Kirat and Amy – Social Media Consultants
Q: How did you know that social media was your calling?
K: It is something that came so naturally to me and I had such a great time strategizing and creating content. I was always looking for ways to learn more about social media, social media tools and the effectiveness and impact of social media, that’s when I knew it was really, truly a career I was passionate about.
A: I found myself always either on my desktop or on my mobile device using the very platforms I work with my clients now. It consumed my time and my life and I didn’t mind, in fact, I loved it and couldn’t get enough of it. Whereas, I know people who can’t stand being on their devices 24/7, I can and want to, so, I thought there obviously must be something there.
There’s something really special about engaging with people, making genuine connections with someone online that you may or may not know, that really excites me. I’m also a visual person so working with a platform like Instagram that is all about visuals, is right up my alley.
Q: What experience do you need to become a social media consultant?
K: Digital marketing, communications and social media certificates are all helpful in preparing yourself for career in social media consulting and management. An education in marketing is a great foundation to start with to understand how to be strategic and how to communicate effectively with your target audience. Supplementing that with further studies in digital marketing or social media will give you the tools you need to be successful in this industry.
A: I strongly believe in education and experience. It drives me crazy when I hear people say they are just going to pick up social media as a side job or a career and they have absolutely no previous knowledge or training. Find a program at your local college or University, online or offline that offers either a certificate or degree. I sought out a Continuing Studies Program at SFU for Digital Communications that offered a certificate.
As the digital world has expanded, so have school programs. You would be amazed at what is offered these days. I’m definitely jealous at the opportunities students have today.
Along with school experience, real world experience is also needed. Look for a program that offers students internships. I was lucky to have landed an internship with a digital marketing agency which gave me an amazing inside look into agency life. This is what you want. If your program doesn’t offer an internship, take initiative and seek one out that does. Companies love to hire free help! 😉
Another avenue to take is to seek out family, friends or colleagues who own a business and ask if you could could take over their social channels. Create a social strategy, plan and schedule content and record the analytics. Now you have proof of running your own client account/s.
Q: What skills are your biggest asset and why?
K: I’d say time management and communication are my biggest assets. It is important to be educated in digital marketing but for this career you also need to be able to provide your clients with great customer service which means being professional. Communicating with your clients to understand their wants, needs and expectations is key. Obtaining clients is only part of the battle, you need to be able to exceed their expectations and keep show them you have value. Reaching your deadlines and completing your work on time is a big part of this. This is how to truly display professionalism. Things don’t always go as planned, but if you effectively manage your schedule you know when I dead line isn’t realistic and you can communicate that to your client to avoid disappointment. Scheduling your work and juggling your clients is a fundamental skill in this industry.
A: With any job, you need to possess many different skills and social media is no different. For myself, I would say adaptability and creativity are two of my biggest assets that I bring to the table for my clients. You need to be able to adapt quickly to the many different changes social media platforms endure. From algorithm changes to new updates, these platforms advance on the daily and you need to be able to keep up.
It takes a lot of creativity to produce social strategies, content and campaigns. If you’re working in an agency with multiple different clients, you’re juggling various topics which, entails imagination for content and storytelling.
Q: What was your biggest fear or obstacle when you first began this career and how did you overcome it?
K: My biggest fear and my biggest obstacle was getting clients and gaining credibility. I had to remember why I got in this field – because I truly love what I do. So, I took on a lot of work for free and invested my time in helping friends, family and non-profit organizations. This helped me gain experience, it kept me busy and helped me build clientele through the portfolio I had built and through referrals from the people I had helped! Win-Win!
A: Similar to Kirat, I also had the same fear and obstacle they are quite common. It’s difficult for anyone to hit the ground running with a full-time “dream job” these days.
After my program ended, so did my internship. Suddenly, I found myself jobless. It took me a few hard months of constant job searching to land clients of my own. During these months of searching, self-doubt crept in but eventually clients came and they came in bulk. Don’t let your fears get in the way of your dreams. If I had given up after the first month of job hunting I wouldn’t be where I am today. A solo-entrepreneur working for a wonderful consulting agency with the same marketing values as mine – and let me tell you that is hard to come by!
Q: What do you like/dislike about your field?
K: I love that I get to be creative, work with all different types of people and businesses and make my own schedule. It’s also amazing to see a campaign unfold and show your client the impact of a great social media strategy. I dislike the reputation of this field being “easy” or one that doesn’t necessarily require any education, training or experience.
A: I love the ability to choose whether I want to work for an agency, work in-house for a company or work for myself as a contractor. You have the freedom of living anywhere in the world if you work with a remote team and for someone who likes to travel, that is very attractive.
I dislike that some companies still don’t see the value of social media marketing even though we’re in the twenty-first century and social isn’t going anywhere. It’s difficult to convince a client that they need social media help when they don’t understand the importance of relationship building.
Q: What are your hours like?
K: My hours depend on the needs of my clients. For the most part I am able to work at my own pace and on my own schedule. However, this is the type of career that involves a lot of engagement and involvement. It can depend on the client and the services being provided but I like to keep an eye on what’s happening and be “on call” in case of a social media crisis and to see how the audience is reacting and whether or not the posts are successful.
A: Your hours will greatly depend on whether your a remote consultant or not. If you work in-house, you’ll have normal working hours anywhere from 8-5/9-6 but if you work for yourself, your hours are based on your clients needs. If you don’t want to be contacted at all hours of the day and night, I would recommend setting boundaries with clients.
Q: How did you find clients and build credibility?
K: I had to build up my personal brand and network, network, network! It was about conveying my passion for social media to the people around me. I took on work whenever I could and made the best possible outcome out of every situation. At the beginning it meant taking on clients that I didn’t necessarily find easy to work with but it helped me build a portfolio and important social skills. You also have to be willing to go above and beyond – they are putting their trust in you- so you need to show them you’re worth it! In the beginning that might mean throwing in some extras or doing more work than what you were contracted to do but sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to get the job done and make the client happy.
A: I found clients through various outlets such as; job search platforms (Indeed, Monster, Craigslist, etc), professional recruitment companies, connections (ie, friends), word of mouth (previous clients) and social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).
The more clients you land, the more experience you gain, the more credible you become to a future employer. Once I started executing my own campaigns and saw how well they performed in terms of new leads and revenue brought in, that’s when I really started to feel credible.
I hope our above Q&A is helpful for those looking to switch their career paths or are just starting to consider theirs. If you have questions for me , please reach out on LinkedIn and I’d be happy to assist in your decision making.
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