How to Prepare for a Job in Social Media

By Brooks Briz, David Rose

No matter how prepared you are when starting a social media job, you’re going to run into problems. Most of these problems won’t have easy solutions. That’s okay. Because social media is so new, you can create your own solutions, job requirements, and systems.

Educating yourself

There will come times where you simply need to improve your skills or will not be able to figure out the answer to a social media problem yourself. The good news is that you have the Internet and a world chock full of social media experts that can help you improve your skills. Some of the top informational sources include:

  • Social media conferences

  • Formal social media education

  • Webinars and Google Hangouts

  • Online educational sources

  • Asking experts on social media platforms

You can typically get your organization to pay for training or courses.

Whether you can get ongoing education reimbursed depends on clearly communicating your organization’s need for the education. You have to explain how it will help your employer. Present the options to solve a problem or bring a skill in house, and clearly identify why investing in your education is the best decision.

For example, you may need some basic HTML knowledge to style a content‐management system or update a landing page. If your company hired a contractor, she could finish it for $10,000 over a month. What if you took a month‐long course at khanacademy.org? This would benefit your employer and you, and it sets you up for additional advancement opportunities.

Though thousands of educational opportunities exist, these are our favorites:

  • Lynda.com: This site features arguably the most comprehensive database of business courses in the world: web design, web services, photography, coding, and much more. Unlimited access per month is inexpensive.

  • Codecademy.com: This free resource can teach you the basics of web languages such as HTML, PHP, CSS, and Javascript. Even if you don’t have a web development background, Codecademy makes the information interactive and fun.

  • OnlineMarketingInstitute.org: This website covers a comprehensive list of social and online marketing objectives that you may not have even realized that you needed. The scope is wide and the site offers accreditation and interaction with instructors. This website, per month, is inexpensive and has different features by subscription level.

Innovation within social media comes from different ideas that are either combined or applied to a different set of circumstances.

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Ask your friends

Try this exercise to jump start new learning:

  1. Choose three friends you’ve known for a long time.

  2. Ask each person these questions about his or her profession:

    • How did you get the job you have now?

    • What advice would you give someone who wanted to do what you do?

    • Aside from compensation, why do you go to work every day?

  3. Tell each friend what you think a typical work day looks like, based upon your existing knowledge and the new information.

  4. Ask your friend to fill in the gaps.

    • Talking through the details of a position, even in a different field, will help you to get to the most important bits. When you know the key parts of a job you want, you can identify the resources that will help you get those attributes.

    • Think of key attributes as highpeforming behaviors — the things successful people do to ensure their own success. If a job requires effective communication, for example, then highlight your ability to be clear.

    Remain open to new options.