Fifteen years ago, it was unthinkable that social media would be such a critical part of business that entire careers would be built around it. Today, digital marketing professionals specialise in social media marketing, building communities and managing content and ads on-platform. As social platforms boom, the field is thriving, and career growth opportunities are extraordinary.
Careers in social media marketing are booming to the point where they’ve made CNN’s top 100 careers with big growth, and with the increasing importance of organic and paid marketing on social channels, this isn’t something that will be changing anytime soon.
Curious what exactly social media career growth looks like and if it will be consistent enough for you to venture into it? In this post, we’re going to take a look at everything you should know about the expanding social media career growth patterns in terms of prominence, popular position titles, and even how much money you could reasonably expect to make.
Why You Should Consider Social Media for a Career
Building a career in social media could be an excellent choice for professionals in marketing, or who are interested in the field. There’s great job security to be had for social media professionals since digital marketing and a social media presence are such critical needs for businesses.
There are many areas to specialise in when it comes to social media marketing, including ad, community, and social media management. The field is growing quickly, and job opportunities in social media pay well, too (we’ll look into this more a little later in the post).
Many jobs in social media marketing:
- Allow for remote or hybrid work
- Are fast-paced and excellent for professionals who love to multitask
- Can feature diverse client bases so each day is new and interesting
- Involve dynamic work so things never get boring
How Expansive Is the Growth of Social Media Careers?
We’re not kidding when we say that social media careers and all the potential surrounding them are booming. Businesses across all industries need to be able to connect with their target audiences and form strong communities if they actually want to stay in business. This is what leads them to social media practitioners, which is a valuable form of marketing and community building all in one.
All the data out there supports this, too, showing social media marketing as a rapidly growing career option across the globe. CNNMoney recently featured social media managers among the top 100 Best Jobs in America. Over the past ten years, the profession has experienced a 9% job growth rate.
It’s important to note that marketing factors that include social media are growing faster than other types of marketing positions. Digital marketing has grown about 30% faster than other marketing positions.
These jobs aren’t just a temporary boom; they’ll be stable, because social media has changed how businesses market with their consumers, so there will be a permanent need here, no matter what the economic landscape looks like. The COVID-19 pandemic proved this, as businesses needed social media workers more than ever to stay on top of increased virtual and social communications with their clients.
Social Media Salaries
Social media salaries vary depending on a number of different factors, including the following:
• Your experience
• Whether you work for an agency, a private company, or you’re self-employed
• Your location
• Your position and role with the company
If you’re promoted all the way up to a position like Chief Marketing Officer for a major company or run your own successful social media freelance agency, it goes without saying that you’d naturally be making more than an entry-level social media worker who curates data for high-profile clients’ feeds.
Regardless, social media marketing jobs can pay well; digital marketing skills can yield around a $7,000 salary premium compared to other marketing roles, and social media fits under that umbrella. According to Payscale, the average base salary for a social media manager is $66,368 AUD per year ($45,968.14 USD).
No matter where you’re at, though, the salary is a good one. Some reports estimate that the potential total salary, including performance bonuses, could range from $48,000 to $85,000 AUD ($33,246 to $58,873.12 USD).
You can see the range by experience level in the image below:
This pay range is a large one, and a true entry-level salary for a social media professional could be smaller at bigger companies. However, the growth potential for the position is undeniable. You may notice that job titles can vary. Sometimes, you’ll likely see listings for Social Media Strategist, Social Media Marketing Specialist, or Social Media Coordinator.
A social media strategist in Sydney, Australia, has an average base salary of $66,000 AUD ($45,713.25 USD), with a possible total salary range of $54,000 to $102,000 AUD ($37,401.75 to $70,647.75 USD), including bonuses.
There are likely to be overlapping skills from one social media job title to the next. Applying for multiple jobs with different titles could help you get a feel for the differences in pay.
The 9 Most Common Social Media Jobs
When you’re searching for jobs in social media, typing in the search query “social media marketing” will yield a wide range of listings. This puts you at an advantage, giving you a wide pool of jobs to apply to, which is always excellent.
As you put out feelers for social media jobs, you’ll start to notice that certain job titles come up over and over. Let’s take a quick look at each one.
While we go through our list, note that many of these positions have overlapping responsibilities and qualifications. The distinctions between these jobs can be subtle at times, and indistinguishable at others. That’s because the brands seeking these professionals are likely seeking similar qualifications based on their specific needs.
1. Social Media Strategist
Some jobs are just looking for a “social media worker,” but if you see “social media strategist” in the description, that’s a sign that a company is looking for someone who can help develop and execute cutting-edge strategies to liven up or maintain their social media.
Strategists may be responsible for:
- Crafting an overall social media strategy
- Developing and protecting overarching brand guidelines, ensuring that the brand identity is consistent cross-platform
- Determining post frequency, content direction, and which platforms to concentrate on
- Proposing ideas such as pitches for contests or suggesting campaign launches, such as Stories initiatives or branded hashtags to generate awareness
- Developing and overseeing influencer and partner campaigns
- Building and managing cross-platform community engagement
- Overseeing team members who may be tasked with managing social channels
- Creating, scheduling, and posting content
- Engaging with audiences on various platforms
- Studying and leveraging analytics from one platform to the next and tweaking the strategy based on findings
Strategists may be the head honcho in their department, though they’ll often report to someone else for approval depending on the location. The average annual base salary for a social media strategist is $66,000 AUD ($45,713.25 USD).
2. Social Media Manager
Social media managers are typically going to be involved in being hands-on in social accounts, doing everything from scheduling posts to handling engagement and monitoring reports. This title is sometimes given to a lead in an internal department, but it can also be given to someone working for an agency where they’ll be handling plenty of client accounts.
Social media managers could be responsible for:
- Following the company or client’s social media strategy
- Being the main point of contact for content approvals
- Ensuring brand identity and voice consistency across all platforms
- Creating content, scheduling it for publication, and ensuring it posts correctly
- Building and reevaluating content production schedules for maximum efficacy
- Dealing directly with audience engagement on varying platforms
- Overseeing any social media marketers on the team who help execute on scheduling and posting tasks
- Studying analytics to keep a finger on the pulse of what works and what doesn’t
The average base salary for a social media manager per year is $66,368 AUD ($45,968.14 USD).
3. Community Manager
Community managers are often held responsible for establishing and growing a community, sometimes online and offline. A community manager for a local gym, for example, might come up with challenges to entice participation and social proof, and they’ll foster a Facebook group just for members by offering up valuable training tips and health information that their audience would love.
If you’re considering working as a social media community manager, you might find yourself:
- Engaging regularly with your audiences on social media to foster a sense of community and camaraderie
- Protecting the brand by ensuring that every interaction, from post comments to direct messages, is in line with brand guidelines
- Planning, scheduling, and posting content
- Strategising ways to build a stronger following, including contests, giveaways, and other incentives
- Monitoring analytics and making or recommending adjustments to the overall strategy
- Developing and managing campaigns such as influencer partnerships
- Drive engagement for building brand awareness
- Performing quality checks on social media posts
Community managers in Australia can expect to make an average of $56,673 AUD per year ($39,253.14 USD).
4. Social Media Consultant
Social media consultants are typically freelancers or employees of agencies (making it hard to find official job listings for this exact title), and they’re most frequently going to be offering consultations around strategy. Consultants may or may not be hired by clients on an ongoing basis, and they’ll often spend a lot of time working with clients who are either brand new (and choosing which platforms and strategies to use) or those who are ready to scale to the next level.
A social media consultant’s short-term responsibilities might look similar to a strategist’s, minus the actual implementation, and could include:
- Building and recommending a social media strategy for their clients to follow
- Making recommendations for brand guidelines that would bring consistency to social channels
- Recommending when and how often to post, and which platforms might impact the business most
- Proposing ideas for growth incentives and increased engagement
Social media consultants in Australia could potentially make an average of $57,651 AUD ($39,930.52 USD) per year, although this rate could vary drastically depending on what kind of role you take on. For example, many consultants are self-employed, so rates fluctuate from one consultant to the next.
5. Brand Manager
Brand managers are typically going to have responsibilities inside and outside of social media. They’ll work with other digital marketing workers, too, to help define or refine a brand across every touchpoint users may encounter the business on. This includes your website, your email campaigns, and of course, social. They often play a heavy hand in strategy, but the big focus is on creating and enforcing a brand that audiences will love.
If you’re a brand manager in social media, you might:
- Build, maintain, and protect brand guidelines across all marketing channels, including social
- Manage social teams implementing the brand’s posting strategy
- Perform quality assurance checks across platforms to ensure brand guidelines are being followed and voice is consistent
- Actively engage with various departments to ensure everyone is guarding the brand and representing it well
- Participate in regular scheduling and posting tasks alongside other team members
Brand managers can anticipate a potential salary of $81,277 AUD ($56,294.48 USD) annually.
6. Social Media Analyst
Social media analysts (sometimes called “brand analysts” if the job goes beyond social) are all about the data. Typically, these jobs are going to be focused on looking at current and past campaigns and assessing how effective they may be. They’ll look at everything from on- and off-platform engagement to get a feeling of what’s working and what isn’t.
Analysts typically offer suggestions in addition to just creating reports about how to improve campaigns moving forward, and they’re particularly important once expensive PPC campaigns and a lot of ad dollars come into play.
If you’re working as a social media analyst, your job might involve:
- Studying engagement and performance across all social platforms
- Building analytics-based reports to inform future campaigns
- Analysing ad spend and PPC campaigns for efficacy
- Recommending adjustments to ad and PPC campaigns for maximum ROI
- Making recommendations for changes to a content strategy based on campaign performance
- Managing and developing content strategy and execution, potentially alongside a team
A social media analyst in Australia could make an average salary of $55,955 AUD ($38,755.83 USD) every year.
7. Digital Marketing Specialist
Digital marketing specialists can end up wearing a lot of hats, including social media practitioners. They’ll often be responsible for executing multiple cohesive campaigns at once, which may involve things like content marketing campaigns, PPC campaigns, and organic social campaigns that all weave together well.
You can expect to have an overarching array of responsibilities as a digital marketing specialist, but your social media tasks might include:
- Developing and executing on social media strategy
- Analysing social data and making adjustments and recommendations based on performance
- Engaging with followers both in private messages and in comments sections
- Posting to all social channels, following brand guidelines and best practices
- Building and making recommendations on strategy and brand campaigns
A digital marketing specialist in Australia could make an average yearly salary of $65,929 AUD ($45,664.07 USD).
8. Chief Marketing Officer
If you work hard to rise in the ranks, you can make it up to a company’s chief marketing officer position. These positions are prestigious, and you won’t just be overseeing social media marketing work; you’ll have to look at how all the puzzle pieces fit together, including SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing, overall web presence, and more. Social will still be an important part of the job, but you’ll likely be handing off a lot of the duties and actual social media work to others on the team.
Chief marketing officers are commonly responsible for:
- Building a marketing plan across all platforms, including social media, that adheres to the company’s brand guidelines
- Analysing department budgets and determining the best avenues for marketing spend
- Managing members of the marketing team, including social media specialists, and delegating tasks
- Looking at departmental ROI in relation to marketing campaigns and making adjustments along the way
- Engaging in market research to better understand your company’s target audience, adjusting marketing objectives based on analytics and audience behaviour
- Making all final decisions regarding marketing strategy, implementation, and campaigns
A chief marketing officer in Australia could land an average annual salary of $200,636 AUD ($138,965.51 USD).
9. Social Media Ad Specialist
A social media ad specialist, also sometimes called “paid social media specialist,” specialises in PPC ad campaigns on social media. Sometimes, companies hiring for these jobs also want candidates with experience running Google Ads.
For social media ads specialists, responsibilities might include:
- Managing PPC campaigns and social media paid ads across all platforms
- Planning, implementing, and executing ad campaigns based on marketing budget and campaign goals
- Tracking analytics, such as conversions and cost per click, to determine campaign ROI
- Reporting campaign results and performance findings to chief marketing officer or designated management
- Keeping a finger on the pulse of social media trends and developments per platform to create the best ad experience for users
- Writing and/or approving ad copy
- A/B testing versions of social ads to determine the efficiency
A social media ad specialist in Australia could potentially make an average annual salary of $85,000 AUD ($58873.12 USD).
The Flexibility of Social Media Careers in 2022
You have plenty of different options when it comes to building a social media career. Now that you know what’s out there, it’s time to consider what type of employment you’d like to seek. Let’s talk about where you could work as a social media employee or contractor.
Working As a Social Media Employee for a Large Company
Almost all companies have social media marketing experts on their payroll now, including B2B brands. From large, international corporations to your local grocery store chain, you can bet there’s a social media marketer on staff.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of working as a social media employee for a large company:
- Long-term job stability
- Regular hours and a steady, predictable paycheck
- Good benefits, such as health coverage and paid vacation time
- Exposure to many aspects of the job
- Get an inside look at a brand you hopefully love
- Company-provided education and training
There are also a few cons to consider. You could be expected to wear a lot of hats as an employee, which can be overwhelming. There may not be a team to assist you. In addition, some people may find it slightly repetitive to just work for a single company.
Working for An Agency
If you’re interested in working as a social media marketer for an agency, you can do so as a contractor or an employee. Typically, in an agency environment, you’ll manage multiple client accounts.
Here are some of the pros of working as a social media professional for an agency:
- Diverse daily workloads, which keep things interesting
- Top-notch experience and training
- Access to plenty of useful data to fine-tune your strategy
- Collaborative environments
- Access to a wide variety of brands and clients
- No need to vet and prospect for all the clients on your own
- At larger agencies, opportunities for experience with big-name clients
Now, let’s take a look at some of the cons of working for an agency:
- Stability can fluctuate as agencies scale up or down
- Juggling multiple client accounts can become overwhelming
- The agency chooses your clients for you
- Workloads can quickly spin out of control, particularly during high-growth periods
If you’re looking for steady work with an agency, keep in mind that newer agencies tend to have more unpredictable workloads. You might want to consider working for a more established agency if possible. However, building up experience and trust might require spending a little time in newer agencies along the way.
Working As Your Own Boss
Many social media professionals choose to be their own boss, rather than working for a large company or an agency. This means that you’ll prospect for and pitch your own clients directly, without the benefit of a third party. While the task may be daunting at first, there are multiple pros to this approach:
- Set your own rates and take on clients you want
- Start your own agency or work exclusively as a freelancer
- Choose your own clients who pay well, treat you well, and align with your interests and ethics
Once you’ve built up your business, the income potential can be exceptional. But keep in mind that this option has its cons, too.
- Working potentially long hours as you build your business and do your work, too
- Building your personal brand, along with momentum, takes time
- Stability can be hit-or-miss
- You’ll have to wear a lot of hats and tackle aspects like legal and admin on your own
The Skills You Need for a Social Media Career
In order to find success in the social media world (and, to be frank, a job), it’s not enough to have simply been a user on social platforms for years. You need to have the right skills to execute strategic campaigns that will accomplish business goals that go beyond “get likes of my new puppy.”
Let’s take a quick look at the skills you’ll need.
Knowledge of the Platforms Themselves
Each social media platform is different, with its own unique set of best practices, rules, and mistakes to avoid.
Here are a few examples of what you need to know before you should start seeking a social media marketing career:
• How each platform’s algorithm prioritizes content
• What’s happening with organic reach on each platform
• Which platforms are best for your client’s business based on performance, audience, and type of content posted
• How inbound and outbound links are treated on the platform
• Extra features (like Facebook Groups or LinkedIn Pages) that should be used
The only way to get this knowledge is through hands-on work or an extensive social media education like what we offer here.
If you’d like to understanding how to strategically select the right social media platform for an organisation, check out this video from Social Media College’s Co-CEO and Founder, Jonathon Tanner:
Strategic Skills & Experience
Do you know how to look at a client’s current performance, their audience, and their goals and then determine how to get where they want to go?
This is an essential skill to have because higher-level social media marketing positions require more than just posting daily for the sake of it.
You should be able to create a diverse content calendar that’s optimised for each platform. You’ll also want to know about strategies like setting up branded contests, when to use influencer marketing, going live to nurture relationships, and more.
Familiarity with Native & Third-Party Business Tools
Do you know how to navigate Facebook’s analytics, or how to schedule posts for Instagram ahead of time?
Do you know the steps involved to set up an Instagram shop, or how to establish Rich Pins on Pinterest?
Will you be able to adapt to third-party tools like Agorapulse or Hootsuite, or contest software like ShortStack?
You want to know how to use each social media platform to the fullest, both with native and third-party tools.
Social Copywriting Skills
Think fast: How many characters do you have in a Facebook post before it’s cut off on mobile?
Do know when you should use hashtags and when not to?
Copywriting is an important skill for social media marketers, and you need to know how to write social copy, in particular, that’s short, accounts for platform character restrictions, and abides by best practices to maximise reach and engagement simultaneously.
Practice writing copy that feels natural, is non-repetitive, and doesn’t focus on cheesy, “salesy” language like “It’s Your Last Chance to Buy Now!”
Graphic Design Skills
Not all social media marketers need to have design skills, but if you can use drag-and-drop design software like Canva, you’re at an advantage.
Some businesses will want original graphics and image creation, even if it’s simply quoted on aesthetically pleasing backgrounds or a basic infographic.
While this skill isn’t needed for all positions, it is a plus to have, especially if you’re working on your own either as a freelancer or an employee instead of part of a large team.
Basic Copyright Knowledge
As a social media marketer, you’ll need a basic working knowledge of copyright. This may seem minor, and it’s a small part of your job, but it does matter.
For example, did you know that you can’t just share images you found online to your social media? You also need to be careful about which songs and video clips you use in video content on all platforms, including YouTube.
Copyright is something to consider, and all original content published online is protected by copyright.
You can learn more about copyright and social media here, but it’s important to understand before you get started or you could land your employer (and yourself) in hot water.
How to Get Social Media Marketing Experience
Have we made our field of work sound appealing enough yet? Social media marketing is growing quickly, making it appealing and sometimes resulting in a little bit of competition to get the best jobs out there.
In order to break into the field, we recommend doing the three following things…
1. Get the Education
Get the education and certifications in social media marketing.
Not only will having those diplomas and credentials help you stand out from your competition, making you more appealing to potential employers, but you’ll also have a lot more strategic, technical knowledge than most of the people you’re up against.
You can learn more about the courses we offer and what’s right for you here.
Which brings us to step number two…
2. Get Strategic
Too many self-proclaimed social media marketers are happy to just slap together random posts because they sound nice and upload them to the platform. This isn’t enough, however, to drive actual results with social marketing.
Prove that you have the knowledge to do something different and engage and nurture leads on different platforms. During an interview, offer examples demonstrating your strategic knowledge, like explaining how you could use in-feed organic posts to send traffic to Stories campaigns that will have links to send users to your site.
Small examples of strategic knowledge can help you get new work, whether you’re applying to a full-time job or are trying to win a freelance contract.
And this brings us to step number three…
3. Get Some Samples
It’s hard to start when you don’t have a lot of work experience, but do what you can to build a portfolio so that you can show potential employers samples of what you can do, both in terms of posts you’ve created but also campaigns that you’ve run.
Though many might not be paid or may not pay well for first-time workers, you can typically find fast and easy freelance gigs that will give you some room to build a portfolio early on. You could also start your own social media channels so that you have full control, and an instant link to send clients or employers to if they ask to see samples of your work.
4. Look for Small Businesses That Need Help On a Budget
While all labour deserves to be paid for fairly, the reality is that sometimes it’s difficult to break into a career with limited experience.
I got my first writing gig on Craigslist, and it only paid $15 for an entire article, but it also gave me my first sample that I was able to leverage to higher-paying work and an eventual career.
Ask around, and let friends and family know that you’re looking for work. There are plenty of small businesses that have a few hundred dollars a month that need help with their social media management.
If you are in the financial position to do so and are struggling to get a full-time job, taking on lower-paying opportunities as long as you can get a testimonial or share the samples can pay off, but make sure that you aren’t signing any contracts that forbid you from doing so.
In addition to small businesses, you may also have luck offering pro-bono services to local nonprofits. This is a great way to give back while honing your skills, and plenty of employers love to see this.
Social media marketing careers have grown unbelievably fast in the past decade, keeping up with the rapidly growing platforms and their rapidly evolving audience members, too. With brands increasingly realising that they can’t hire a 16-year-old intern to tweet into a void in order to get results on social, more are turning to both in-house and external social team members to help them connect with their customers in meaningful ways.
This is a field that’s growing quickly, but if you’re adaptable and agile, there’s so much room to grow within it. Being quick on your feet, having a basic understanding of human psychology, and having a passion for staying up to date with the latest and greatest in marketing trends and technology could make you an outstanding fit for these jobs. All you have to do is start with the right education, and then we can help you take it from there.
Interested in getting started on your social media marketing career? Check out our Social Media Intensive Course here.