Job: Social media manager
Salary: Starts at about $30,000 for entry-level positions, with median salaries of between $55,000 and $70,000. Higher pay depends on the role, the size of the company and how important social media is to the organization.
Education: A university or college degree in marketing, journalism or communication is considered a good background for social media workers. Many social media experts today have also earned certificates on the subject, which are offered at various postsecondary schools across Canada. Some social media sites also offer training in this space, including HootSuite University, an online certification program.
The role: Social media managers and experts are responsible for making sure post to Twitter (tweets) and Facebook align with a client's or company's overall marketing and communications plan. That includes creating social content, as well as monitoring and responding to the reactions from the public to what you put out there. Many have learned from the mistakes of others. Who can forget the recent PR executive's tweet: "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just Kidding. I'm White!" She lost her job soon after that missive went out.
By the numbers: It's hard to gauge how many dedicated social media jobs there are in Canada, given that the role is often mixed with other tasks in public relations and communications. One thing is certain: The use of social media continues to grow. According to 2013 statistics from Digital Insights, 4.2 billion people use mobile devices to access social media sites, there are more than one billion unique monthly visitors on YouTube, and Instagram receives about 1,000 comments per second.
Job prospects: Jenny Duncan, who handles social media at Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk, believes the prospects are "excellent" for social media professionals. "Organizations and brands continue to value social [media] more and more all the time," she said. "You can see this in changing perceptions how social is becoming a predominant tool in getting your message out day-to-day, serving as the primary customer relations tool and becoming increasingly important in crisis communications."
That said, a recent Workopolis survey predicted social media as a profession won't exist in 10 years. "With this glut of savvy young online communicators looking for work, social media skills will just become expected communication competencies, like reading and writing, rather than unique areas of expertise," the Workopolis report said.
Challenges: "This isn't a 9-to-5 job," Ms. Duncan said. "You need to constantly monitor and be aware of current issues and trends. People who work in this field always have their phones by their sides in the evening, on weekends and vacations." There are also dangers to the job, including hasty tweets sent without thought to the impact or consequences. Ms. Duncan said social media managers also continue to face some resistance from older workers, especially in management roles. "It can still be challenging to have buy-in from the executive team about the importance of social and its need for real-time response," she said.
Why they do it: It doesn't really seem like work for those who live and breathe social media. Ms. Duncan said that's why a number of young people are so successful in the social media space today. "It is often very intuitive [for them] and something that you not only do for your job but something you do constantly because you love capturing a moment in time on Instagram, can't wait to share your latest favourite Songza playlist or just heard today that you can send a caffeine-addict friend a coffee via Twitter thanks to Starbucks," she said.
Misconceptions: That it's all random. Ms. Duncan said some people believe there's no strategy involved with social media and that anyone can be an expert. "While anybody can sign up for their own Pinterest account, meeting the strategic objectives of the company through social and being entrusted with the organization's public voice requires an incredible amount of skill, diligence and expertise," she said.
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