Social Media Consultant Careers

NUMBER OF JOBS

85,457

JOB OPENINGS

120,000

JOB GROWTH

34%

AVG. SALARY

$75,250 /yr

$150 /hr

All Stats from O*Net

A social media consultant manages a company or individual’s marketing and branding strategies across a range of social media, which might include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, and a range of other specialized or general digital platforms.

Social media consultants will often develop or direct the development of the messaging and content for these social media platforms, with an eye toward the types of messages, posts, tweets, offers, and other communications that will generate the highest levels of user engagement and positive results. They will formulate content with the interest of promoting the company’s brand or core message. And since social media is extremely interactive, they will often oversee the interaction and response strategies throughout all platforms.

Part of a social media consultant’s job is to ensure a consistent brand experience across a wide variety of digital platforms, and help a company translate a larger promotional campaign or product launch in the digital realm. A social media consultant may also help a company respond to complaints or public relations challenges in the social media format.

The consultant will often be expected to analyze the performance of a particular digital campaign and fine-tune it to increase positive results.

Who would you work for?

Social media consultants are often freelancers or contract workers rather than full-time employees, although full-time positions within a firm do exist—usually within more cutting-edge digital marketing companies. As a consultant, however, you’re more likely to own your own business and work with other companies on a contract basis than work in a more traditional position. Potential clients and work situations include:

Marketing firms. While it’s rapidly becoming clear that social media is an essential part of any company’s marketing strategy, many marketing firms haven’t yet caught up to the times—and may not see the value of opening a digital marketing department or hiring a staff member specializing in this area full-time. However, you may find work with marketing firms as a freelancer when these companies have clients who specifically require digital media strategy. A marketing firm can be a very lucrative client that brings you steady work.

Individual companies. You could also work directly for the company that might otherwise hire a marketing firm that subcontracts to you. The variety of options in this area is endless, and ranges from law, finance, and manufacturing firms to more creative digital media companies. You could also find yourself working for political candidates, authors and performers, government agencies, or nonprofits—either in a contract or full-time capacity.

What skills are most helpful?

Marketing skills. Social media marketing is, at its core, a marketing and public relations effort—and it helps to have a solid grounding in this area. Social media marketers need to know the basics of branding, messaging, sales writing, advertising copywriting and development, and more.

Knowledge of social media platforms. You don’t necessarily need an encyclopedic knowledge of every app on Wordpress. But it’s pretty essential to know what the best free blogging platform is, the ins and outs of various social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and which strategies and messages work best with each.

Technical and graphic design skills. You won’t need to be a crack programmer or web designer—but it does help to have some technical and graphic design skills if you want to develop a slick social media presence for your clients that functions well on a variety of platforms. It also helps to kanow how to get the most from the major social media platforms from a technical perspective.

Analytical skills. Many social media consultants negotiate monthly contracts with clients that involve managing all aspects of the client’s social media strategy on an ongoing basis. As a social media consultant, part of your job will be to review the analytics of your client projects on a regular basis, see what’s working and what’s not, and tweak the strategy if needed. It helps to be able to identify which parts of a social media campaign are drawing the most response, how to get the most out of Google Analytics, and other key skills.

Presentation skills. Knowing how to present your analytics and results in a powerful way will be helpful to your career—not only to keep clients informed, but also to keep them convinced of the results and investing in your services.

Business development and other entrepreneurial skills. Because you’ll most likely be a freelancer or own your own business, you’re likely to need to know how to run a small business with low overhead—how to market yourself, build your own website, manage your own marketing campaigns, bill and invoice your clients, and so on. Some tasks—such as accounting—can and probably should be outsourced to a professional.

What type of degree do you need?

In general, there is no specific requirement for education in this field. It’s still too new, and as a consultant, your experience and record of results will often be more important than your degree. However, having a degree or credential in the field certainly won’t hurt, and can help you develop b expertise and get your foot in the door. And luckily for working professionals, the field is quite accepting of online degrees. Here are a few that could be particularly useful in this profession:

Online Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems: New Media Communication Technologies: It’s definitely possible to find work as a freelancer without a Bachelor’s degree. However, especially if you want to find a salaried position, a Bachelor’s is useful—and may be required. A Bachelor’s in a technical, marketing, or business area isn’t necessarily mandatory, but it’s useful—and a degree focused specifically on social media, while rare, could set you apart even further.

This degree focuses on the technical aspect, with an additional focus on communication and new media from a technical perspective.

Online Graduate Certificate in Social Media Essentials: If your degree is not in an area that focuses on IT, business, marketing, or another relevant field, the online graduate certificate in social media essentials can help you focus your credentials in social media—and build some important skills. A graduate certificate such as this one usually requires a Bachelor’s degree and takes about a year to earn for full-time students.

Online MBA with a Graduate Certificate in Social Media Marketing: If you’re looking for higher-level consulting positions, an MBA can certainly add to your professional qualifications—and help you charge higher fees. This MBA program includes a graduate certificate in social media marketing, and there are others that focus on topics such as e-commerce and marketing.

How much does it pay?

With this job, pay can be unsteady—because as a new social media consultant, you’ll have to build a business. This can be difficult and lead to a feast-or-famine pay cycle, particularly in your first few years before you’ve landed steady clients.

However, once you get a steady business going, it can be quite lucrative. You may be able to charge a smaller client anywhere from $500 to $2,000 a month for your services.

Salaries and typical pricing may vary depending on region—and your job title. However, this graphic from Mashable provides a good visual summary of where the top social media opportunities are in the US—and their average salaries. In New York or San Jose, where the majority of the jobs are, you could earn anywhere from $46,000 on the low end to over $100,000 on the high end. The lowest pay is in Phoenix, Arizona, where you might make as little as $37,000 or as much as $77,000 per year.

Social media consulting can pay well—if you can get the work you need as a freelancer, or find one of the rarer salaried positions. To give yourself an edge in this field, earn a degree in business, marketing, or tech with a social media marketing and communications focus. More importantly, however, start building your own social media presence online—and you’re likely to generate the revenue you need.

Suggested Further Reading:

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Market Research Specialists and Marketing Specialists

 

Places to Look For A Job

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Market Research Specialists and Marketing Specialists