What It’s Like to Work in Social Media

Although I’m not necessarily old, when I was growing up social media wasn’t a job that existed. If you told 13 year old me that I’d work in social media, let alone be the Head of Paid Social, I’d ask you what on earth you meant. Fun fact: I always wanted to be a forensic pathologist, as I was (and still am) a huge Silent Witness fan, but I soon discovered that my chemistry skills left a lot to be desired. Now, social media is a massive industry and with teens now growing up on social channels, there is a lot of interest in the roles. What still remains, however, is that I find a lot of people don’t really understand the role actually entails. 

I recently found this tweet from an amazing social media strategist, Jon-Stephen, and it really made me think about everything working in social media entails.

With this in mind, let’s breakdown what it’s actually like to work in social media.

Entry Level Social Media Roles

My first ever job working in social media was a part-time role that I took in my final year of university. I was responsible for the social media channels of the student union’s discount scheme (exciting I know). The discount scheme, named Purple, had quite a quirky brand and was very tongue in cheek, as opposed to the actual student union profiles that were very dry. My title was ‘Student Marketing Assistant’ and it was my first time ever working with social media tools. I had to learn how to use scheduling tools such as Tweetdeck, analytics, creative tools like Canva and even email platforms like Mailchimp

It was a very general marketing role, so I had to ensure that organically we were posting on Twitter and Facebook at least 3 times a week, send out emails about offers to mailing lists, recruit new companies to join our scheme and even run the campus farmers market. 

This kind of role is very common when starting out in marketing. More often than not, you’re immediately considered a kind of jack-of-all-trades and given any job that is remotely marketing related. It’s exciting though! When you’re starting out you really need to take any experience you can and it really does help round you as a marketing professional. 


When I graduated from university, I landed my dream job as a Marketing Assistant at a digital agency. It was a social specific role that I managed to get due to my previous experiences using Canva, scheduling tools and analytics! The role meant I handled even more organic social clients, having to be more reactive and creative with my ideas, but also introduced me to the world of paid advertising on social media. 


At the agency, I was now responsible for multiple clients, as opposed to just the one that I’d been used to at my university role. This meant that I had to switch between recruitment companies, restaurants, law firms and more throughout the day. I had to plan the strategy, create buyer personas, design the imagery, write the copy, build the campaigns, launch the campaigns and analyse the data, all whilst reporting back to the client and explaining my thought process. That was only on the ads side! For restaurant clients, I would even have to go visit them some afternoons and take photos on my iPhone that we could use in campaigns. This is where it starts to feel a lot like the tweet from J-S above. But I loved it! I loved the variety, the creativity, the strategic aspects, the client comms. 


At this moment in time, I am a content creator, photographer, graphic designer, copywriter, ad buyer, brand expert, community manager, advertiser, account manager and so much more.


With social media, the key is to remember that everything you do should be based on data. That’s why there are so many analytics tools out there. You need to understand your audience and tailor every image, wording, advert, post or story to that audience. If you have your audience in mind with every task that you do, you are much more likely to succeed. 


A key thing that I learnt throughout these entry-level roles, particularly when it came to working in an agency, is that you need to educate not only yourself but also the client or your boss about social media. There are still to this day some clients that just don’t get it. But, I can promise you that the clients that you take the time to teach and explain your thought process clearly will stick with you a lot longer. Social media is constantly changing so don’t be afraid to explain to your boss that something that has worked previously won’t work now, as long as you educate them on why. 


Mid Level+ Social Roles

After a year at my first ever agency, I got promoted to Marketing Executive. My job role really didn’t actually change that much, I just got a fancy new title and was responsible for bigger clients with larger budgets. Later that year I was promoted to Marketing Manager and was responsible for a team for two other Marketing Execs. This is when the job role changed significantly. Not only was I still responsible for my own bank of organic and paid social clients, but I was also in charge of teaching two new employees how to be successful in the world of social media marketing. 


With this role, I was constantly running what we called ‘ideas meetings’. This was where a potential new client was coming on board and the whole social team would spend the afternoon at the whiteboard bouncing around ideas and getting the creative juices flowing. From here I’d work with the sales team to ensure that they were pitching the correct ideas, I’d even be included in the pitch meetings quite often, and then if they signed we’d get moving on putting together a detailed strategy, sending it over to the client to be approved, and then launching campaigns. 


This role was great and allowed me to pass on everything I’d learned to new social media execs! But, what I didn’t realise at the time was that there was still so much to learn about social media. And that’s when I joined Embryo!


Joining Embryo I made the switch from working in organic and paid social media, to working almost exclusively with paid social media clients. I also made the switch from working in a well-established team to starting up my own team, from scratch. 


Fast forward to today and I am responsible for a team of two Paid Social Managers and also a full bank of paid social media clients. The majority of my day is spent ensuring that clients are performing well, dealing with any issues that arise, onboarding new clients, on client calls to ensure they’re happy, launching new campaigns, planning new campaigns, designing new imagery etc. But on top of that, I’m also responsible for the growth of the department, any procedures or policies that we implement to ensure that the department runs smoothly and that time is managed correctly. I’m also responsible for training my team, ensuring that they are constantly learning and that I share as much knowledge as possible and work with them so that the department is the best it can be. 


I’m still doing a lot of those jobs that I started doing in the entry-level roles, just on a lot larger scale! 


Now I am a content creator, graphic designer, copywriter, ad buyer, brand expert, advertiser, account manager, line manager, crisis manager, video editor, strategist, teacher, head of department and so much more. 


What is it like to work in social media?

So, to answer the original question. It is a compilation of so many roles. It is an exciting mixed bag of clients and industries. It is thinking on your feet and being reactive. It is accepting that you don’t know everything and need to learn. It is using so many different tools just to put an ads plan together. It is a crazy whirlwind that I absolutely love.


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