How To Start A Career In Social Media

Recently, the Chicago Tribune pinged me for a few quotes on how to start a career in social media. Naturally, I sent them a bit more than they needed.

But what I wrote actually turned out to fit pretty well as a blog post – so rather than letting it never be seen, following are my unedited thoughts answering the question:

The best piece of advice I can offer is to create something that shows you’re passionate about your industry on social channels. Create your own brand of media (like a blog), build a web application (hire a freelancer or partner with a programmer if you lack development capabilities) or start a simple skunkworks project (an innovative / creative project you’ve implemented from start to finish, on your own). Further, as part of whatever you create, make it clear how to subscribe to updates so the world can opt in to everything you make in the future. This way you capitalize on any attention gained to fuel the next idea.

The point here is to go beyond merely maintaining a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Using Facebook and Twitter by themselves is fine, but at this point not remarkable. What I mean by that is they are not worthy of commenting or remarking on as it’s common and expected you are active there. And anyway, these tools are still just problems in search of solutions. Think about how instead of being just another person pointing at solutions, you can create something that is the solution which gets pointed to by the other social web users in your category.

If you really want to stand out you need to create something worth commenting on that will actually provide a reason for others to pass on your name or want to connect with you. Just “being on social media” is not enough, what are you actually doing that’s so great beyond simply networking? Why should we care?

Some other advice:

Start today. If you’re interested in building a community behind your blog or even start your own social network, it isn’t something that happens overnight. Rather, it’s a gradual build until you hit a tipping point where others begin to reference you organically. But so long as you approach it with the mindset of incremental growth and you’re prepared for the long haul you’ll be far better positioned for success. For my own blog, I had to write for 2 years before I crossed the thousand visitor / day threshold. It takes time, so begin building a network and distribution before you need it.

Know what you want. If you want to be hired, proceed with that in mind. Do something creative which gets noticed by targeted companies or key executives. For example, ad copywriter Alec Brownstein targeted creative directors at advertising shops in New York via clever search ads driving traffic to his website. From this, he received two offers. He then made a YouTube video showcasing the results which has received nearly 1 million views. The point is he knew what he want and did something creative and specific to achieve it.

Be consistent and show dedication. A friend of mine Eric Friedman tells the tale of his job interview with renowned VC firm Union Square Ventures in New York. During a pivotal second round interview Eric sat down with one of the partners, Brad Burnham and presented his resume. Brad told Eric to hang on to it as he just wanted to chat. When Eric pressed him as to why, Brad responded with something remarkable which went like this: “You can work really hard on crafting a well written, organized, resume with bullet points of accomplishments – but you can’t fake 500 blog posts.” On the web, it’s “show me, don’t tell me.” Showing dedication through consistency is a powerful way to demonstrate you’re a cut above.

This is definitely just the tip of the iceberg – what else would you add?

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