Did you catch our first post about getting a job in social media? We talked to Social Media Agency Room 214 Agency Director Ben Castelli about crafting a creative résumé and using social media to reach out to potential employers (in a non-creepy way).
In the second part of our guide to getting a job in social media, we chat with Matt LeBeau. Matt also reviews applications and interviews social media managers as part of his duties as Group Practice Director at Room 214. Read on to find out how you can get experience that’ll set you apart and what you can say that will truly engage and impress your interviewer.
What is your current job title and how long have you been at your company? Which positions do you review applications for?
I’m a Group Practice Director at Room 214 and have been at the company since August 2011. Our Group Practice Director position is similar to an account director at other marketing and advertising agencies, but we typically try to have more of an area of focus beyond specific client accounts. In my case, in addition to managing social media marketing for clients, the areas I’m most involved in are video productions and website, application, and mobile development.
I work closely with lead developer Mike Feineman and our other developers to scope out projects, including concepts, costs, and timelines. I then help serve as project manager and coordinate with our creative and development teams.
I review applications for social media account manager positions.
What are some things that college students can do to make their social media manager applications stand out?
Beyond building your own networks (online and offline), one thing that always impresses me is if students and recent grads can show real-world experience with social media management. Unlike some other job skills, the “barrier to entry” for practicing social media management is so low that it doesn’t require you to have a formal job or internship before you can gain experience. You’re likely already involved with social media for personal use; now find a way to use that experience to help a business.
For example, regardless of who you are, I’d bet that you know someone with a business (family, friends, etc.) that could benefit from social media, but either don’t know how to use the technology or don’t have the time. By volunteering to experiment with the small businesses of friends or family, you can learn the ropes, test content ideas, and practice engaging with fans. By including this kind of experience on your résumé, students and recent grads will definitely have an advantage over the competition.
Along with real-world social media experience (jobs, internships, family/friends’ businesses, etc.) being able to show how you made impact is much more important than simply listing your daily tasks or responsibilities. (e.g. Through my management of Facebook, I helped increase the fan community by X% and fan engagement by Y%.)
Which majors tend to be most successful in the positions you review applications for? Which majors would you like to see more applications from?
Being a social media community manager definitely requires a lot of writing and attention to detail. Since you’re often the first point of contact that a customer has with a brand, it’s crucial that the public-facing content you create and post is free from errors and consistent with your client’s brand voice.
Your major doesn’t necessarily matter, but I definitely think that Journalism and English majors have a higher success rate. In large part, I think this is due to the amount of writing required in these majors and the attention placed on proper grammar, punctuation, etc. Social media posts do not have to be sophisticated writing by any means, but they also can’t be riddled with spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. As long as you’re a competent writer and check your work, any major can be successful.
What are some things you look for in résumés and cover letters? Are there any things that would send an applicant to the “no” pile right away?
As mentioned above, since our entry-level social media community managers will likely be doing a lot of writing and responding, seeing multiple spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors in a résumé or cover letter is an immediate red flag.
On the positive side, seeing multiple internships is always encouraging, along with any experience that includes tangible results (as mentioned above). These kinds of results that show growth or improvement (even if they’re not related to social media) are much more powerful than simply listing all of the tasks that were performed in a previous job or internship.
What steps would you recommend a student take to best prepare for a career in social media management?
Read a lot. There are a ton of great social media resources and websites available and staying on top of developing trends and technology is crucial to doing the job well (Mashable, Google Think Insights, LinkedIn Groups, etc.) As we like to say at Room 214, anyone who professes to be an expert in every aspect of social media is completely full of bologna. This industry changes so quickly that it’s impossible to stay up to date on everything. However, the more you read, the more likely you’ll have a good foundation for whatever is coming next.
Play and experiment a lot. As mentioned above, even if you’re volunteering your time to a friend, family member, or your own small business, you can learn a lot just by testing out social media platforms, apps, and websites.
Have a basic understanding of Google Analytics. Since many brands are hoping to use social media for more than just brand building, being able to understand (and ideally show) how social media impacts website traffic is a great skill to have. While this isn’t a skill that most people expect an entry-level employee to have mastered, it is definitely something that will continue to be a key performance indicator (KPI) of all social media campaigns.
What is the biggest mistake you see candidates make when interviewing for positions as social media managers? What do the best candidates do to stand out in an interview for social media manager positions?
Since social media is changing so quickly, and there is so much information and news available, I think it’s a mistake when candidates are not prepared to discuss something that’s currently new or trending—whether that’s a social media platform, a specific piece of technology, or overall industry trends. It seems to show a lack of interest or drive when it comes to learning more about the industry.
Conversely, when a candidate can ask my opinion on a recent social media news story or technology development, it shows a greater level of engagement.
Homework time! Matt suggests you find a friend or family member who owns a small business and help to launch or maintain some of their social media presence. Once you’ve found someone, make a list of all the social media presence they currently have (if any). Then keep track of the numbers each month. How many new followers have they gotten? How many retweets or shares? See if you can form some observations about what types of posts are most popular and be sure to discuss these in your job interviews.