Can you make a career out of social media?

When you hear the title ‘social media manager’ it can be easy to assume this refers to someone who sits on Facebook posting pretty pictures all day – however this is far from the truth!

A career in social media requires a variety of skills and knowledge, and it’s not as easy as one might think to break into the industry – with excellent progression opportunities and attractive job titles every young graduate will be keeping an eye on these vacancies!

To give you a taste of what it takes to work in social media management and how you can increase your chances of getting into this exciting industry we asked Emma Goble, Social Media Editor for international fashion retailer River Island, how she worked her way to where she is now.

What does a typical day in the life of a Social Media Editor involve?
It can really vary. Aside from speaking to our 3 million plus social audience, I can be planning campaigns, out on a shoot, writing a new blog post or an article for our print magazine, or attending events such as festivals and premieres.

The day absolutely flies by and there is so much variety to my role. Whilst a lot of it can be sparkly and glamorous there are certainly parts to it which aren’t, such as the business reporting.

When did you start your Social Media career?
Well I guess whilst doing internships at university. The first internship was in 2007. Since graduating in 2010 I have done a number of intern jobs, temp jobs and starter roles at various retail companies and magazines. I have been at River Island for 18 months now.

Did you go to university?
I studied Fashion Journalism at UCA. The course was really good and very useful for my current role. In hindsight, I wish I had done more research on what courses were available as the Fashion Promotion course looked really interesting too. I started my course in 2007 and there were nowhere near as many digital focused courses available as there are now.

While at university, did you undertake any work placements or internships to gain extra experience?
I have done so many internships down the years! I actually had my first one at Bliss magazine when I was still in the 6th form. I was mainly making tea but it was a great first experience!

Career in Social MediaAt university I interned at four places; at MyTights I was mainly doing office and marketing admin. I also got to help with samples and actually picked the tights for a Girls Aloud video. It was the video where they are dressed up in burlesque clothes; I forget the name of the song though!

I worked at Jeepers Peepers (sunglasses) where I did a number of things including writing press releases. They were lovely people and I even got paid! I did a brief bit of work at London Fashion Week where I helped dress the models. That was very exciting.

I also worked at Buba London where I got to do lots of interesting work including writing press releases, writing website content and dressing shoots.

Who in your opinion who does social media well?
Burberry – they are the masters. Anything that is new in digital they are straight on it and their execution is always impressive. Innocent – they are really quirky and likeable with everything they do. Adidas – for their innovative ideas including their Brazuca ball twitter feed. Cadburys – because everything they do is fun and because I love chocolate!

In your eyes, what’s the biggest barrier to the adoption of social media?
With adoption, the understanding around the whole business of what a social media team do/contribute is often very mixed. Some business have a very traditional way of thinking so it is difficult to understand this new era of real time customer engagement that we live in. So you need to be the expert and be willing to teach people all around the business about the role that social media plays.

How do you think interacting with customers on social media impacts a company or brand’s image?
There is a massive impact. Social media platforms are often one of the first things you see when you come across or are researching a brand. So if you go to a Twitter feed and see lots of complaints then that is already a barrier to purchase.

How do you keep your posts engaging but still inform your audience about the latest promotions and products?
Storytelling, it’s the key to social media. Take a product or a trend and put it into a context that resonates.

If you had to pick one social media platform for you personally, what would it be?
Instagram of course! I love being able to document things I see and do in a visual way. It is the platform that inspires me most. Embarrassingly, my personal Instagram is mainly full of pictures of cats!

Where do you see social media in five years’ time?
The big players won’t go anywhere but there is always something new and exciting in the social media world. I think social media and TV will continue to integrate further in new and innovative ways.

For those thinking of pursuing a career in social media, any tips or pointers?
Live and breathe social. Get savvy and use every platform as much as you can. Start a blog. Read as much online content as you can and keep in the know. I try to check Mashable and The Drum a few times a day but still struggle to keep up!

Contact small companies and volunteer to help with their social media. Our last intern actually managed to convince a local café to pay her £50 a week to manage their social media accounts!

What would you look for in a candidate if you were looking for someone to work in the department?
Many of the things mentioned in the last question. A genuine lover of fashion, someone fun and outgoing. Someone with lots of energy as social never sleeps!

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