A lot of decent, smart people want to work in social media. But few can prove in a resume or interview that they can actually do it. It’s one thing to play with the tools. It’s quite another to apply them in a business setting.
Even employers are still trying to get it right. Last summer, Best Buy was ridiculed for requiring Sr. Manager of Emerging Media Marketing candidates to possess one year active blogging experience, 250 followers on Twitter, and an MBA.
So, how do you force your way into an industry that hardly existed five years ago and continues to evolve? Here are a few tips:
- Create an online brand. What’s your personal passion? Maybe it’s concert photography or fantasy artwork or ASU football. Build a brand around that topic – or around yourself – and market it like an actual business.
- Start your own blog. You have to go deeper than 140 characters. Prove that you can think critically and organize and articulate thoughts in posts unfiltered (and unedited) by your boss. Your blog doesn’t have to be about social media, but it has to be your own.
- Start your own blog (Pt. II). Get intimate with your blog’s backend. (Oy!) Play with different WordPress themes and plug-ins. Ditch the wysiwyg and write posts in html. Install Google Analytics and get familiar with the tool’s features. It’ll all pay off.
- Drive traffic. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. to drive eyeballs to your content. Don’t forget social bookmarking and niche communities. Familiarize yourself with SEO and/or PPC. Then use your Google Analytics to assess what’s working and what’s not.
- Go viral, or at least try. No budget? No problem. There are plenty of free tools out there. Customize a Facebook gifting app. Create a Twitter hashtag. Edit your own Downfall parody or Photoshop something silly.
- Keep learning. Your college degree is not enough. Neither is your current job. Read white papers and case studies and attend webinars and live events. You’ll need to dive deeper than 200-word blog posts to keep pace in a constantly changing industry.
- And finally, get real. Do not – repeat do not – apply for a social media job without social media experience. And please note that I didn’t say paid experience. Don’t ignore your professional experience. Just supplement it with your personal work in social media.
If you followed the steps above, you should have enough for a few bullets on a resume and a few talking points in an interview. Maybe you can join our team at Bulbstorm. Good luck!
So, what should hiring managers expect from a social media applicant? Two-hundred Twitter followers? An MBA? Let me know in the comments!