How to Launch a Career in Social Media Marketing

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Think that reliance on social media is just a fun way to pass the time while in college? Think again. There is an explosion of career options that mandate stellar skills in social media marketing. "Digital Etiquette" is seen as one of the top-eight core skills required in the modern workplace, according to Grovo, a firm leading the charge in closing the digital skills gap. Excelling in online connecting is a bankable skill.

Here are four things you need to know in order to launch a social media career.1. One size does not fit all. There are many different social media tools for connecting communities in the hopes of increasing business, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Vine and Pinterest. Each technical tool has its own pros, cons and unique users. To effectively determine which platform to use, take a tip from Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite's founder and global social media influencer: "Think of the platforms as you would a Swiss army knife, where each tool is used for different jobs."

Effective marketing, be it social media or traditional, starts with determining a target audience and what you would like them to learn about your brand. Once you have a big picture objective, then you can analyze where your audience is more likely to be found and engaged. For example, you might choose Twitter to communicate quick snippets of compelling and retweet-able information but tap into Instagram when a visual approach is better.

2."It is all about the content," as Holmes puts it. Posting just to show you have activity does little to build a brand. As a matter of fact, too much useless information can create "fatigue" for the audience and possibly drive them away from your business. Make sure you create interesting content that shows the personality of the social media practitioner or the brand.

Holmes recommends that social media professionals try different campaigns for a brief period of time to gauge how the audience responds. As you see responses (or hear crickets – figuratively speaking), adjust your message frequently until you achieve the desired results. There is a lot of noise out there, so take the time to make sure your message stands out with the right potential customers.

3. Results matter. At the end of every social media rainbow is an executive who wants to see the analytics that prove the expense was worthwhile. Aspiring digital marketing professionals should know how to measure and analyze the returns on investment (ROI) for each campaign.

There are many methods and tools that measure impact. You can review the "click-through" rate to see how many people actually clicked on a campaign to learn more about your event or business. Some look to measure engagement, as in how many likes, forwards, retweets or comments each post received. You may want to measure how many people wound up buying an item or service as a direct result of a social activity. Regardless of what you want to analyze, there are tools that can quantify these results. In short, digital marketers have ways to show that their campaigns were effective.

Don't have any professional experience? You can explain how you grew the number of YouTube followers for your college's underwater basket-weaving tournament from one to 5,000 in one month or how you found a way to use Instagram comments to convince your roommate that he really needed to clean his half of the dorm room. Of course, your future employer is not likely to have you repeat those specific campaigns. However, the skill required to set an objective, craft a creative and engaging digital message and execute on your idea will not be lost on them.

4. Exemplary social media practitioners are thoughtful, creative and technical. You may be on your own when it comes to your thoughtfulness and creativity skills, but technical acumen is something almost everyone can (and should) develop. Take some time to learn the leading social media tools and best practices used in modern business.

Just last week, Hootsuite, a leader in social media network management with more than 10 million users, launched Podium. This free online training program will provide social media education targeted toward graduates looking to increase their professional qualifications. Via Podium, aspiring marketers can learn about industries' leading social media trends or go so far as to achieve a certification in social media marketing.

Few things exemplify commitment to your career as much as taking time outside of class to develop your professional skills. While increasing your social media marketing knowledge will be beneficial, just the act of taking the online classes will set you apart from your peers who say they want to build a career in digital marketing but don't put in the extra effort.

The future is very bright for new graduates looking to master communication in the digital world. Bear in mind these four points to increase your competitive edge.
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