In 2020, social media management is one of the most impactful careers you can pursue, wherever you are in your career. Increasingly, it seems that social media isn’t only the place to follow the news – it’s where the news happens.

But as social media’s role spreads into all industries and forms of media, the ways you can get involved professionally become more & more unclear. In 2020, social media managers can set themselves apart by learning new platforms, branding themselves online, and building a personal social media following. Although this requires a lot of hard work, personality, and creativity, building social media credentials is free and accessible to anyone regardless of experience. I talked to a couple brands and professional social media managers about how they got hired in social media and what they’ve learned since getting into the field. Here are the 7 main tips that you can apply today:

  1. Publish with passion
  2. Gain experience in other roles
  3. Write
  4. Comment and Respond to the brands you want to work with
  5. Take a walk in your reader’s shoes
  6. Get on emerging platforms like Triller & Discord
  7. Respond to fresh trends

1. Publish with passion

Make your social media presence project a unique, modern voice and stick your own values authentically. The better you can demonstrate your ability to create social media content with values, the better you’ll be as a social media manager. No matter where you want to work as a social media manager, interviewers will need to feel comfortable putting their brand in your hands – a big part of this is conveying authenticity online. Samantha Resnick is the social media manager at HoneyBee Health, an innovative online pharmacy startup. Here's what Resnick had to say:

Our pharmacists know our patients' birthdays. They know their kids' names. And so that human touch is what we're trying to get across on social media and blog. We'll do things like live stories, live AMAs with pharmacists – we're trying to provide a lot of informational content on social media, too. There's so much misinformation out there, so much bad health information on the internet. And unless you're a healthcare professional, it's very hard to differentiate between actionable info and BS. And so as healthcare professionals, it's important for us to be passionate about informing people.

2. Gain experience in other roles

If you’d like to develop social media skills while you’re in a different job, there’s almost always something you can do. Social media content is closely involved with PR, communications, and similar roles, but if you’re enterprising and inquisitive, you can find your way into social media from nearly any angle. At Kapwing, some of our best content for social media has involved people from engineering, customer support, and office management. If you’re working from a company that produces branded media, ask for potential ways to become involved. Even better if your workplace doesn’t have a branded social media presence: offer to take on additional responsibilities on a social media platform you’re interested in. Resnick explains:

Social content is everywhere: community roles have social media, PR roles use social media, administrative roles are involved, as well. If you get a PR hit, you have to share it, and figure out the ways that social media is involved. And communications, really anything with comms involved, has to use social media more now than it used to. Connections, relationships, outreach, customer relations, they all use social channels now.

3. Write

Producing social media content involves a few core skills that you can’t ignore. In particular, strong writing skills are necessary in order to craft high-quality social media posts and content anywhere. Resnick put it like this:

Honestly, the most important thing you can do to learn how to manage all the different types of social media is to work on your writing. I know some social media seems like it has nothing to do with writing – Instagram, YouTube. But if you’re always working on your writing, you’ll get better at picking up the different language of each platform – how people make YouTube videos or Twitter memes. There’s always writing involved.

To get some exposure for writing skills, start writing blog posts on Medium or LinkedIn, where you can also solicit feedback for your work. For a greater commitment, put up a writing portfolio on a website builder like Wordpress or Squarespace. And there are tons of opportunities to write guest posts for blogs (like the Kapwing Blog - we’re actively looking for Content Partners).

4. Comment and Respond to the Brands You Want to Work With

The best place to learn about social media practices and get exposure to current social media teams is social media itself. Social media is a place to interact socially, to learn from others on the same platform and have conversations in a space that’s both casual and professional. Our own Robert Martin elaborates:

I think one of the best ways to meaningfully engage with your audience is to really listen to what they’re putting out there and respond to it. When someone who follows you is posting about a topic relevant to you or your brand, then you should take the time to respond to them and show them that you care about their ideas - even if that person only has one follower. Small and seemingly insignificant touchpoints often leave lasting impressions on people.

5. Take a Walk in Your Reader’s Shoes

Just as you can use your other areas of expertise to involve social media in your workflow and gain experience, it’s a good idea to step away from social media to let other areas add to your ideas. Social media managers are the only ones posting branded content, but everyone is reading it. If you can make yourself read your content as a casual observer, a competitor, an influencer, or a follower, you’ll get more useful, practical knowledge than you ever could as just a social media manager. Resnick explains it this way:

Some distance from social media in your role can actually lead to a better perspective on social media strategies, and thinking outside the box. My audience is patients and people who know them, so I can’t think like other social media managers, with a lot of humor or internet trend knowledge. What I need more than other managers is practical knowledge about medical needs, difficulties in the healthcare system, experiences that will click with the people I want to reach. Even if I’ve never had the experiences that our potential patients deal with, I have to understand them on some level.

6. Get on Emerging Platforms Like TikTok & Discord

The platforms that are vital to a successful social strategy are constantly changing. A year ago, nobody would consider a Discord server to be an essential part of their social media community, and TikTok was a goldmine for branded exposure. But now, Discord communities may be some of the most effective places to cultivate community engagement with your brand, while TikTok seems like an increasingly risky place to pour your effort. Robert has dealt with this himself:

Emerging social apps and spaces seem to crop up daily and it can be effortful to stay on top of them all. There’s a lot of value in taking the time to do it though. Fresh social spaces present opportunities to try new things and reach large audiences who haven’t had a chance to meet you yet. Imagine being the first brand to take TikTok seriously and start creating videos there on a regular basis.

You can’t develop branded social media skills the same way you develop your personal social content. Creating branded content requires you to pay attention in a more focused way. Investigate the social strategy of other brands, and determine the most impactful places to insert yourself into the greater conversation. Adopt simple but effective habits like checking relevant queries on Google Trends every morning when you check social media. Robert explains further:

While there’s no catch-all solution to finding your own best practices for social media strategy, there are some habits you can keep – I, for one, like to follow the writing of journalists who are deeply embedded in internet culture. Writers like Taylor Lorenz, Kalhan Rosenblatt, and Josh Constine all offer incredible insight into what is going on.

Related Articles:
Streaming on the Side: Growing Your Stream to Monetization
Writer's Block: Starting a Writing Career in 2020
How to Make Videos Like Vox
How to Add Virtual Tour Videos to Your Real Estate Site