Emerging Jobs in Social Media

Emerging Jobs in Social Media
Blog and tweet your way to a new career.
by Carol Tice, PayScale.com

The world of marketing has changed with the rise of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Now companies are seeking their customers' attention with tweets, videos, blog posts, pictures--online content designed to create buzz and attract a following. And this means more and more companies are looking for employees who know how to create and distribute this kind of content.

Growing numbers of job hunters are turning their blogging skills or Facebook savvy into new careers in social media. A background in marketing, computer technology, copywriting, or journalism is often a plus in landing Web 2.0 jobs.

This is an emerging field, so pay rates are all over the place right now--but good pay is already to be found, with full-time jobs ranging from $45,000 to six figures.

"My rule of thumb is, you get paid in social media for what you've done in the past," says Jim Durbin, who operates the niche job site JobsInSocialMedia. "A fresh college grad may make $25,000 as a social media marketer, but if you already have a marketing job where they pay you $80,000 a year, your employer might move your duties over to social media marketing and keep that salary."

Many ad agencies that assist major corporations with social media campaigns are hiring, but the majority of jobs in social media are freelance rather than full-time. On the upside, hourly rates can be high--$200 an hour and more, says copywriting coach Chris Marlow.

"The lowest rate anybody should charge for social media marketing work is $50 an hour," she says. "Many are charging $100 an hour."

Here's a look at some of the most common jobs in social media, and the skills they require:

Social media strategist or digital strategist
Chris Marlow calls this job "the top of the heap" in social media. These experienced marketing strategists understand how to create social media marketing campaigns and measure their success. At larger companies, they may oversee a social media team.

"They're the people who put together a plan," she says.

Community manager
At Spherion subsidiary Mergis Group, recruiting practice director Greg Bennett says he recently filled a $120,000-a-year community manager position with a major company. Community managers oversee company blogs and forums, keeping visitors coming to the site through outreach on social sites, and moderating conversations to make sure nothing libelous or insulting is being said.

The job calls for marketing experience, as well as work in Web publishing, copywriting, project management, and social media. Bennett says his recruiting research turned up several similar positions already earning in the same range.

"Everyone I see wants the same thing," he says. "Someone who is a marketing person but has been heavily involved in social media--they know how to run online symposiums, draw people into the company's community, and keep them in."

Posting short articles filled with links to related sites has become a popular technique for improving rankings in search engines. Marlow says $35 to $75 an hour is typical pay for a corporate blogger. Many bloggers have journalism training, but others who enter the field have their own personal blogs and use them to audition for corporate blogging jobs.

Social media marketing specialist
The virtual-world version of a marketing specialist, this job entails taking existing company marketing materials and circulating them effectively in various social-media channels, says Durbin.

Search engine marketing associate
A lower-level position than a social-media strategist or marketer, search engine marketing (SEM) associates work on building a company's results in "natural search," the unpaid results delivered by search engines.

Online customer service representative
A growing number of companies are watching social sites for customer complaints--prominent examples on Twitter include Comcast Cares. "There's a lot of work here, because it's so expensive to take calls," says Durbin of JobsInSocialMedia. Workers who have call-center experience and who write well are ideal candidates to cross over into this field.

Business writer Carol Tice is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur, The Seattle Times, and other major publications.