As a semi-fresh graduate, with an advertising degree, social media was not really something that stood particularly high on my list of career choices. I wasn’t even really sure if you can even class it as advertising!
Well it turns out, yes, you can, and it is in fact relatively reflective of exactly what I was “trained” to do at university. So, with that knowledge, you’d think it would be something that came naturally to me. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong, as was I.
It turns out there is a whole world of information that I never expected I would need to know, and, not only is the digital sphere a million times more complicated than print and poster ads, there is also so much strategy and analytical thinking behind it I should probably have gone back and done a degree in maths but a) I hate maths and b) the debt is just too much.
Luckily for me I managed to find a junior level role (which I have swiftly dropped the junior title of btw – humble brag), so I assumed the basic understanding of how the main channels work would suffice. But since being thrown in at the deep end and taking on new challenges almost every day, I have learnt that social media isn’t just “sitting on Facebook all day”, which is what almost everyone I talk to thinks I do, but it is in fact a diverse, fast paced and exciting industry to work in.
So if you’re looking to get into a social media role or just interested in what it takes to work in social media read on, for I have devised a list of things that I personally would have liked to know before settling into life as a social media Yeti.
Get ready to see what happens behind the scenes on Facebook
I use Facebook every day. Have done since it was invented pretty much, but never did I ever expect to see the back end of the platform and the inner workings of the Business Manager and Ad Manager extensions. I didn’t even know these existed until I started working at 10 Yetis. I mean, why would you right? But if you’re serious about getting a social media role, it’s great to just acknowledge that they do exist and without them understanding the impact of your content or even deploying adverts would be near impossible.
Don’t expect it to be glam though. It’s not shiny, fun, or exciting to look at. It’s complicated – or so it is to begin with. So get used to seeing a lot of numbers and stats. Figuring out what they all mean may take a couple days, but once you understand how it all works you will be amazed you didn’t figure it out before, and you will most likely have a light bulb moment when you realise exactly how targeted ads work.
Google can tell you the specific details of each and you will learn it on the job, but knowing what they both mean/do is a great starting point and will give you a little more confidence than simply going in blind so here’s a real basic summary:
Business Manager: a way to view all your clients’ social pages that are classed as a Business Page at one time, you can view quick stats like page likes and audience reach from this page.
Ads Manager: a way to view all your clients current, previous and scheduled paid advertising campaigns. You can see how well they have performed and how much they cost, etc. from here.
Be prepared for the constant changes in technology and social media
Changes happen all the time, and no more so than in technology. Social media falls into this bracket and even since I started working in social media (which was only 8 months ago), pretty much all the big dogs (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) have updated and expanded their applications in some shape or form and this then changes the ways in which agencies and brands can advertise on them.
Obviously algorithms and the way they capture data is changing and with GDPR looming in May everything will likely change again, but that’s not necessarily what I’m talking about here, because if you’re brand spanking new to social media you’re not going to understand how any of that works! So I’ll talk about the simple changes that you can 100% keep on top of!
I’m talking about trends and changes to social apps. For example since 2015, Instagram alone has made nine changes to the platform, including introducing paid ads, Carousels’ (where you can post more than one image) and Instagram Stories. Knowing what the changes to social media are and when they’re going to happen is a great way of not only keeping ahead of the game, but also showing your employer, manager, or if you’re only at interview stages, your interviewer, that you are on the ball and really interested in social media.
If you are already working in social media, it is also a great way to keep ahead of your clients’ competition. By knowing how an app is going to change or affect the way you advertise or promote your clients business can help prepare you for the best or worst that may happen.
Understand that mistakes WILL matter and always be prepared with a swift recovery procedure should anything ever go wrong
People make mistakes; we’re all human. However in social media one mistake could be quite costly for your client, and, also for you, as not only will your boss be hounding down on you for being stupid enough to make a simple spelling mistake for instance, they’ll be getting it in the neck from the client who will undoubtedly be furious such a mistake has happened.
Having a recovery process to nip the problem in the bud is one thing I seriously recommended you prepare. So far (touch wood), nothing major has happened on my watch, but it’s incredibly easy to make even the simplest mistakes, for example a typo in a social post is bound to happen occasionally, it shouldn’t but it does. That’s why it’s imperative you have a plan in place to rectify any errors. A lot of the time for minor errors a sincere apology and a swift deletion usually does the trick.
But at the end of the day it’s not necessarily what you do, it’s how quickly you do it. My advice would be, don’t hesitate; don’t ask permission from anyone else, if the client wants you to remove something, you damn well remove it. Much like my old job in retail (ah the glory days) “The customer is always right”, this goes for clients too. Forget the statistics, likes or follows it’s gained (if you’re smart you’ll have already noted these down) and just get rid. Not only will you keep the client sweet, but you will also drop the risk of anyone noticing the mistake themselves, the last thing you want is a grammar Nazi or punctuation police trolling your post – it reflects badly on you; it reflects badly on your client.
This takes me nicely to my next point...
Check everything at least 10 times, and then get someone else to check it
When you’re fully submerged in your social media role and probably have a lot more on your to do list it is likely you will be under pressure to get everything done on time. Even if it is a post that requires as little as one or two sentences, you will need to read those sentences over and over again. It may seem silly, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Re-read what you’ve written at least 10 times. If you’re not sure if something makes sense, get someone else to proof read it, or if no one is around copy and paste it into Microsoft Word and double check none of those red squiggly lines appear under anything! It may take a couple more minutes out of your day, but it will definitely save you a whole load of heartache further down the line if there was a mistake.
Don’t expect to just work on social media all the time
For the first week, sure, all I did was manage client sites, check their Facebook notifications etc, much like I would my own; that was probably the easiest thing I had to do.
Since then, a multitude of tasks have fallen into my hands and some of them are not social media related at all.
For example, I’ve written blogs, for clients as well as for 10 Yetis, I’ve written SEO copy for client websites, I’ve compiled reports for clients as well as 10 Yetis, I’ve attended events, reached out to new businesses, managed a photo shoot etc... You get my drift.
Don’t think social media is a job for slackers, you won’t just skim through news feeds and watch funny cat gifs, you will have to be alert, proactive and interested in who and what you’re working with.
Understand how much of a part copywriting plays
Since I started at 10 Yetis I think I would have to say that about 90% of what I do revolves around some form of copywriting.
When I left university I was under the impression that copywriting was simply for slogans, jingles and advertising headlines. But since working in social media, I’ve proven myself wrong. Almost 90% of what I do in my role as social media executive can be classed as copywriting.
From emails and social media posts, to newsletters and competition terms and conditions; even hashtags. A lot of copywriting is involved. So even if social media isn’t a long term goal for you, the copywriting skills you could gain are so worthwhile. I’d even go as far to say that if you’re looking to get into copywriting I recommend working in social media or a PR role first.
Learn the lingo & the popular tools among social media whizzes
I’ll admit, there are words and abbreviations I’d always heard mentioned in interviews but never really looked into so I’m going to give you a quick break down of the ones I think you definitely will need to know if you want to work in social media and sound like you know what you’re talking about.
SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. You’ll need to understand this term if you ever have to write website copy, etc. I won’t go into detail on how to write great copy for SEO, but it consists of a lot of repeated key words and phrases to make Google think what you are writing about is awesome.
Hootsuite – An online application that not only allows you to schedule and automatically post social content, but it’s also a one stop place you can see an overlook of all your social channels and manage communities.
Later.com – Similar to Hootsuite but specifically designed to work with Instagram.
Google Analytics – The site that you can track specific data to and from specific points. For example you can see how much traffic was sent to your website via social, you can see how many sales your client has made via the website, etc. There’s endless information and things you can track on Google Analytics and this is probably the one that I wish I had gotten some practice with before I took on a social role.
All of these tools have alternatives, these are just the ones I specifically have been taught to use. If you do a little Google search you can see a whole range. Also, to access all of these you do need to have an account – but again, it will put you in great stead against your competition during interviews to at least understand a few of them.
Learn what the term “Algorithm” means
Social media sites apparently run off algorithms (I had no idea what this meant when I first started either).
Social media algorithms are a way of sorting posts in users' feeds based on relevancy instead of publish time. Social networks prioritise which content a user sees in their feed first by the likelihood that they'll actually want to see it; each site will determine this in a different way. LinkedIn won’t be the same as Facebook and so on.
I won’t list each individual algorithm because that’s not only boring but it’s really not something you need to have a deep level of understanding on in the early stages of your career.
However it really helps you crack content creation early on knowing that, believe it or not, there are actually some guidelines that social media use in order to position your posts at a priority spot.
Have a favourite brand and social media campaign
This last point is specific for those of you out there who are in the same position I was once in and are interviewing for what feels like a million jobs. I can’t tell you how often the darn question “Tell us about your favourite marketing campaign” caught me out (luckily it wasn’t one that cropped up during my 10 Yetis interview; maybe that’s how I got the job!) and I was frustrated with myself more than anything as I knew it would come up time and time again but still never found a campaign I felt strongly enough about.
A good starting point is just to remember a few of your favourite brands that you follow on Instagram or Twitter for example. You follow them for a reason right, yes more than likely for discount codes and deals etc but try and delve a little deeper than that. Do they always have sassy copy? Are there images really striking? This is the sort of thing your interviewer is probably expecting.
Finding your favourite campaign it is a little more difficult. I mean when you’re watching TV, reading a paper or scrolling through Facebook no one sits there and thinks, “Oh my god wow look how great this campaign is” – most of you probably don’t even understand what an entire “campaign” is. Well it’s more or less every aspect of a brands advertising and marketing plan.
For example when someone runs a competition, there will usually a newsletter, an announcement post, maybe a TV spot and then further social media pushes throughout the length of the campaign. With that cleared up, the tricky part is finding a campaign that you can a) remember and b) you really quite liked.
Good industries to look at if you’re doing a Google search are alcohol, fashion and beauty brands. My favourites are Dove and Heineken. These are actually two of the best brands to look at as they use a lot of customer and audience research to forge their campaigns – this also makes it a lot easier to talk about.
While I’m sure there are a million other things floating around in your head that you think you would need to know, hopefully what you have read here today will inspire you and reduce the fear of applying for a role in social media.
My signing off thought to you is that if you are a graduate fresh out of university and already giving up hope on finding a job because you’ve been on three interviews and they’ve all said no, I’m here to tell you that you will be okay. It took me five long months to get my first job out of university and while that sounds daunting, it’s not just about finding a job, it’s about finding the right job. Besides, chances are your first job out of university won’t be your last so don’t panic. You’ve got this!
If you have any questions or your own points to add, then leave a message in the comments section! Or if you want to contact me personally you can find me on twitter @JBash2293