How to Prepare Yourself for a Career in Social Media

Finding people to fill vacancies in Social Media jobs is never easy. To make things worse, you get some random people that send applications for Social Media jobs thinking that being a Social Media marketer is as the same thing as being a stores clerk. They think that, knowing how to chat with friends on Facebook, or liking and sharing pictures of funny cats on Facebook are the two most wanted qualifications to become a Social Media marketer. Here is a conversation which happened today, between one such interviewee and the interviewer panel (including me).

We: What motivated you to apply for this job?
She: I'm really interested in Social Media
We: Ok, tell us something that you have done with Social Media?
She: I haven't done anything, I'm just a beginner
We: We don't expect any experience of working with any big brand or a company. You would have at least done a few Facebook pages for your friends or for a school project, a parent’s business, or anything like that just for the sake of doing it, haven’t you?
She: Mmmmmm... Not even that.
We: Then, why did you say you are interested in Social Media? If you are interested in Social Media, there got to be something that you have done. For example, if someone is interested in singing, they would at least be singing in the bath room.
She: Well, I like chatting with friends on Facebook, and I think Social Media is really important.
We: (Changing the topic): Tell us some recent Social Media campaign done by a Sri Lankan brand, which you can remember.
She: Mmmm... Coca-Cola
Me: Ok, what did Coca-Cola do?
She: Mmmmm.. I actually can't remember… oh.. They didn’t do anything recently.. mmmm…

The conversation went like that and there’s no need of explaining to you that, it was an utter waste of time for the three members of the interview panel and for the candidate as well.

A lot of young people these days don’t have a clue about their career objectives. They simply throw their CV’s around hoping that someone will call them in for an interview. When they see vacancies advertised for a Social Media job, they think that anybody could take up that job, all you have to know is how to use a Facebook account. They take these jobs less seriously. What they don’t know is, taking a job in Social Media requires A) Passion for Social Media B) Sense of Marketing C) Thirst for knowledge and D) Knowing what happens around your world. The person I mentioned in above example clearly did not have A & B. But still we could have given her a chance; if she demonstrated to us that she’s qualified in C and D (because that vacancy is for a trainee position). Unfortunately, with most people who apply for these jobs, I rarely even see those qualities.

Finally, to do justice to the title of this blog post, let me share few tips for getting yourself ready for your next job interview for a Social Media vacancy. This is a crash course to prepare yourself for a career in Social Media.

1. Know what is happening on Social Media Marketing world around you

If you say that you are ‘interested’ in Social Media, then you have to start observing the social media activities done by other brands. See what mistakes they make and what brilliant things they do. You don’t have to look any further, simply follow Dialog, Etisalat, and Mobitel on Social Media; the three most evolved Social brands in Sri Lanka (in no particular order).

2. Read few Social Media case studies

Read some case studies of Social Media failures, such as Nestle Kit Kat, BP Oil Spill, US Cricket Association. Then read some success stories like Huggies, BestBuy, Old Spice and locally Etisalat. Google for more case studies, and see how these brands performed or failed.

3. Follow few good Social Media bloggers

Here are people I follow. Read at least a few posts from them every month. Rohit Bhargava, Brian Solis, Chris Brogan, Mari Smith

4. Do something which you can showcase

Open a Facebook Community page for a topic you are passionate about, and build your own case study. Pick up your mobile phone camera, and record a Youtube video and show how deeply you understand the topic ‘online videos’ (You don’t have to make the next Gangnam style). Write a blog. Here is one such personal project, which helped one of our current team members opening the doors for a career at Neo@Ogilvy. These types of things you can easily showcase in the interview, even though you don’t have any past experiences of working for big brands.

5. Master at least 2 different social platforms

Everyone knows Facebook is awesome, and if every Facebooker is qualified to become Social Media professional, then we have 1.5 Million qualified people to work in Social Media marketing. Move to Twitter, G+, Youtube and try out those platforms.

Now, how long will it take for someone to do above five steps and prepare themselves to begin a career in Social Media? I would say just 4 weeks!

(Read my other post on What Makes a Qualified Social Media Marketer? )

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