A Guide to Careers in Social Media: Tweets, Tumblrs & Pins

The next time your parents yell at you to get off Tumblr, Twitter, or Pinterest, tell them you’re working on your career.

No, really.

With the Facebook generation’s first round of college graduates entering the job market, businesses are taking notice of our constant and multifaceted connections to the Internet. In response, a new niche that caters to our tech-savvy skill set is evolving within the corporate world: social media.

Despite being raised on status updates and hashtags, though, collegiettes may still find the ins and outs of an actual career in social media a bit hazy—after all, “Facebook” and “professional” don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand. But if tweeting for your favorite magazine or crafting Facebook posts for a clothing brand sounds ideal, read on for your guide to riding the social media current.

The Careers

At this point, essentially every well-established business has an online component; the role of social media positions is to increase visibility and the number of ways in which a company’s content can be shared. For recent grads, particularly those of us who have grown up alongside the evolution of social media outlets, the good news amid this economic downturn is the recent boom in this job sphere.

“I think it’s a great time to find a job in social media,” says Hayley Saltzman, social media editor for Seventeen. “Every brand and company wants to have a strong social presence, so there are endless opportunities.”

Saltzman, who majored in communication studies at University of Michigan, manages Seventeen’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts and “builds content” (meaning blog posts and contests) for seventeen.com. As the social media editor, she is responsible not only for hourly tweets and four to six Facebook posts per day, but also for updating the magazine’s various media profiles with its current issue’s articles and cover star. In addition, Saltzman develops long-term strategies for linking multiple social platforms to increase the amount of “buzz” generated.

Other jobs, like social media managers and strategists, have similar responsibilities. As in Saltzman’s role, many of these jobs will feature a mix of writing and editing blog and Facebook posts, tweeting, and coordinating various social media platforms in order to present a united front—essentially, cultivating a brand through the same sites that many young adults cultivate a personal image. Common, too, is instigating conversations between fans and subscribers, and the brand for which you’re working.

To keep pace with the evolving environment, most positions in public relations and marketing now have social media savvy as a major component in day-to-day interactions as well, though in these cases the platforms may be used in more specific terms: networking, reigning in a new demographic or clientele, promoting a particular product, etc.

Vicki Salemi, author of Big Career in the Big City and a corporate recruiter, suggests looking at job listing sites like MediaBistro that cater to young professionals interested in the social media sphere. You can get a feel for the types of jobs that are currently opening up, and the majority of postings contain a checklist of qualifications to help you tailor your extracurricular activities and resume.