How to Make Social Media Your Career
By Logan White, marketing and social media student assistant at UF CJC Online
March 1, 2021
Since the launch of MySpace back in 2004, social media has positioned itself as an opportunity to interact with others regardless of physical or geographical barriers. From finding new information to finding the love of your life, social media goes beyond interpersonal relationships and can be used as a tool for companies to interact with their stakeholders. Brands across the globe are in constant need of communicators as innovative as the social media platforms they manage. Though finding a job in social media might seem like a daunting task, we gathered UF CJC Online alumni who are now industry experts to ask for their insight into how to make social media your career.
When you think back on the early stages of social media and advertising, there was a large emphasis on perfection. Social media advertisements featured models who heightened the meaning of the word beauty and photoshop was a leading contributor to any magazine cover across the globe. With the rise of mental health awareness as well as a common understanding of the unrealistic beauty standards shown in advertising, there has been a distinct shift towards authenticity.
American Eagle Advertisement from 2006
Kassie Meiler, founder and director of social media communications for Goat Social Media, took note of this shift when brands such as American Eagle began to highlight natural beauty and realistic body types. “They’re featuring real women of all sizes and all races where maybe four years ago it looked very picture-perfect,” says Meiler. Taking this into account, smaller brands are no longer placed to the high standard set by major corporations. “I think it makes all brands a little more attainable. They don’t have to compete with Coca-Cola or Nike, they can do their own thing and still stand out and still be part of the world on social media,” Meiler continues. Keeping this in mind, work to be more authentic in your social media content. Whether it’s on your company’s account or your own, content that isn’t picture perfect will often perform better while showcasing the character of your brand.
2020 American Eagle Advertisement
Understand the Importance of Your Personal Brand
As a communicator, you must take your understanding of the industry and apply it to marketing your personal brand. When looking for jobs in the field, using your knowledge to your advantage is crucial in showcasing your skill sets. During her time in the UF CJC Online master’s program, Meiler had the opportunity to take a course on personal branding. With this, she learned the importance of your online persona. “Everything you do is pretty much your walking resume. Everything you do online everybody talks about,” explains Meiler. When it comes to landing a job in the social media field, this is a crucial mindset to have before posting anything that might tarnish your personal brand. For Meiler, most of her clients are the result of referrals from former clients and even individuals she has never worked with who trust her personal brand. “I really try to be a thought leader in social media. So people think when they have a question or they need an expert – ‘Let’s ask Kassie.’” said Meiler.
Your resume outlines your past
Your online presence builds your future
— Brianne Fleming (@brianne2k) January 25, 2021
Stay on Top of the Trends
Though it all started with MySpace, social media is an ever-changing field. It seems that each week one platform releases new features while another platform appears. From Vine to TikTok, each platform serves a unique purpose for a brand’s communication function. When it comes to making the most of your brand’s social media, it is an absolute necessity to stay up to date with the current trends. In doing so, you’re not only showing that your brand is aware of what’s going on online, but you’re also ensuring that the content your audience sees isn’t based on an outdated process and will stand out on their news feed.
According to Meiler, an upcoming trend in social media that seems to be here to stay is an emphasis on video and audio content. “Video content is huge. The algorithms favor it…It could just be raw footage and it’s still favored and it’s still doing extremely well on social media. And I think that’s still going to continue to be the trend,” explains Meiler. When it comes to audio, Meiler has noticed an increase in podcasts listeners and believes this marks the beginning of a new emphasis on audio content. “With the growth of podcasts and Spotify and all of these exclusive deals. I think it’s just going to keep continuing to grow individual creators. And kind of have less of a focus on celebrities and less of a focus on influencers and more of a focus on everyday people. And I think audio will help that as well,” she explains. Since it launched in March 2020, Clubhouse has set itself apart from traditional social media platforms with its sole focus on audio. With exclusive members including Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerburg, Clubhouse allows users to choose from numerous audio chat rooms with varying topics of discussion. Though members must receive an invitation in order to join in on the fun, the rapid popularity of the platform highlights a shift from traditional content to a focus on audio and video.
A fellow social media manager and UF CJC Online master’s alumni, Ashley Andrews, couldn’t agree more with Meiler’s forecast for the future of social media. When it comes to which platform seems to dominate the rest, Andrews does not doubt that Instagram is becoming the leader of the social media pack. “You need to be on Instagram. It is the easiest platform to grow on. All of the features, live videos, Reels, Instagram TV and the shop feature, there’s so much. Instagram is the go-to place for any online small business, in my opinion,” says Andrews.
Know Your Audience
Before posting any piece of content to your brand’s social media channels, it’s most important that you ask yourself if the content is right for your audience. If you’re posting a TikTok in the hopes of communicating with your target audience of men and women ages 65 and older, you’re not meeting your audience where they are.
Andrews echoes this sentiment with “It’s not just posting, every post needs to communicate to them [your audience]… If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re essentially marketing to no one.” In her coursework for her Social Media specialization, Andrews learned the importance of understanding her target audience. From creating audience personas to researching characteristics of your target age demographic, being able to break down your audience’s mindset will allow you to create better messaging towards them. “When you actually get into that mindset of what they do and what they don’t like, you’ll be able to market to them flawlessly,” states Andrews.
With the social media landscape constantly changing, it might feel difficult to keep up, especially if you’re looking to find a career in the field. But it’s crucial to stay engaged, keep your head up and stay up to date with social media trends and best practices while also working to further your personal brand and knowledge of the field.