Engagement with customers, media and staff through social media is a top priority for most companies. Organizations want to know how to use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogging to build their brand and gain market share. This increased focus often means hiring new, specialized talent to lead innovation in this space.
However, with social media only recently becoming a legitimate business tool, employers may struggle to find new talent with established social media careers behind them. Some organizations are open to considering candidates with a generalist marketing background who show the potential and enthusiasm to succeed in a specialized social media role.
If you’re a marketer interested in this emerging field, read these top eight tips gleaned from candidates who have successfully developed their own social media careers.

1. Confirm Your Career Choice

Social media roles are often autonomous, and they can be unstructured and fluid due to the constantly changing nature of technology. If you’re after a steady job with no surprises, a social media career may not be the best choice for you.

2. Be Aware

Investigate all the popular and niche social media channels, and become proficient on at least four to five different sites. Find out what other sorts of programs and applications could add value to your skill set (such as a basic knowledge of HTML). Get familiar with the terms and language specific to the sector.

3. Educate Yourself

Formal qualifications and professional exposure doesn’t need to be a full-time affair. Think about short courses, attending conferences in the social media space and networking events as ways to pick up new insights and strategies. Even better, shadow a social media expert to gain a good insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of the role.

4. Learn on the Job

Many social media experts have transitioned into the role from a related field. If you already have a marketing, journalism or advertising skew to your skill set and career, see how you can get involved in social media initiatives in other areas of your department and build a social media career for yourself within your current role.

5. Demonstrate Your Passion

Those who succeed in this emerging field have a real belief in new communication channels, technologies and ways of working. Make sure you’re a personal advocate for the value that social media can bring to an organization—be it a small, family owned operation or a corporate blue chip.

6. Build Your Personal Brand

You may have a presence on some of the more popular networking sites, but now it’s time to use them professionally. Ditch the silly pictures and stories about your weekend, and showcase your expertise by creating meaningful content that gains followers and fans and kick starts your social media career in your own time.

7. Grow Your Network

What better way to cement existing relationships and extend your network than by connecting online? Make sure that when someone views your profile, you’re connected to industry experts and influencers. Not only will their expertise add value to your growing skill set, but being well-connected in the online space is a definite advantage if you’re interested in a social media career. Various sites make managing these relationships more simple, but make sure you also attend events and seminars to build solid relationships in real time.

8. Offer Your Skills for Free

Putting all that theory into practice is the most valuable way to prove your proficiency. If you’re starting out on your own, offer a free social media analysis to a couple of companies in your industry or area. Get involved where you can with friends’ businesses and document the steps you’ve taken to achieve results. If you’re already part of a large marketing department, volunteer your skills and time for any internal social media initiatives. When an opportunity in social media arises, you’ll be top of the list for your employer.
Check here for tips for managing your online reputation to make sure your personal social networking sites aren’t a threat to your career.