Career Profile: Social Media Strategist

Job Title: Social Media Strategist

AKA: Social Media Specialist, Interactive Media Specialist, Manager of Digital Strategy

What is a social media strategist?

A social media strategist is a person who advises companies on how to market their products/services using social media (blogs, Internet videos, social networks, forums and other interactive media).

What do social media strategist do?

Social media strategists help companies used to using traditional media (TV, radio, print ads) to market their products/services or brands via new marketing channels–online social networks, blogs and blog networks, microblogging platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, mobile apps like iPhone Apps and Internet video a la YouTube.

Social media strategists help their clients or employers to develop an overall strategy for engaging and creating a dialogue with customers–something most traditional companies never had to do when using traditional media.  Traditional media is one-way media.  Companies tell prospective customers what they want them to know about their products/services or brands, and customers can only respond by buying or not buying their wares.

In the new economy, customers expect access to ask questions, to complain, to provide feedback and reviews, to talk to other customers and to product designers.  Social media strategists use their knowledge and experience with social media, and their knowledge and experience with marketing or market research, to help companies determine which social media will be most attractive to their customers and which will be the best investment in terms of money, time and effort to maintain, and likelihood of leading to increased sales and/or better brand awareness.

How much does a social media strategist earn?

Social media strategy is an emerging field, so there isn’t much hard-and-fast information about salaries.  But, since most social media strategists come from the ranks of market researchers and marketing managers and advertising, we’ll use those fields as guides.

An entry-level market research analyst with 1-4 years experience earns an average of just over $43,000/year.  Salaries for market research analyst jump $10,000 to $15,000 after 5 years.

Based on market research analyst jobs currently posted online, the average pay is $66,000, with senior market research analysts earning an average of $73,000 to $75,000 and strategic and specialized (i.e. business media or interactive advertising) market analysts earning upwards of $110,000.

Analysts with more than 5 years of experience in a specialized market, or with one or two breakout marketing campaigns or best-selling books to their credit, can easily leverage that success to earn $200,000 or more.

For whom do social media strategists work?

Most social media strategists work for marketing or advertising firms, but increasingly, traditional companies like Wal-Mart, General Mills and the United Way are hiring them in-house to help them attract and communicate with new customers.

Because of their growing popularity, many social media strategists are choosing to go solo, writing books and starting consulting firms.

What about this career doesn’t suck?

This is a Web 2.0 enthusiast’s dream.  Imagine getting paid to blog and Tweet.  Social media strategists also get to spend a lot of time with key teams within their employer/client organization, and with their customers.  They get to “experiment” a little at work, toot their own horns at speaking engagements and in PR pieces and hang out (virtually, at least) in all the cool online spaces–all while getting paid!

And if that’s not enough, there’s more: Since social media strategy is a new field, most will have the opportunity to define their own roles.

To break in you’ll need…

Generally, companies require at least a Bachelor’s degree in English, Communications, Marketing or a related field.  More senior positions may require a Master’s or MBA with a marketing concentration.  But, having demonstrable experience and success in the field(s) of market research, interactive advertising or social media can get you a pass on this.

Most social media strategists enter the field as market research analysts or via entry-level roles in advertising and marketing firms.

Current Job Openings

Social Media Strategy Jobs

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