Working in social media is a career choice that more people are making these days, and the reasons are obvious. From the exciting opportunities across a whole host of industries to the flexibility and variety of roles available, social media represents more choice than lots of other specialisms.

If you are already interested in becoming a social media manager but you do not know where to start your journey, here are some of the steps to take to realize your aspirations.

Get involved with social media yourself

It should go without saying, but if your ambition is to manage social media accounts for major brands, you have to cut your teeth with your own online presence.

No one will expect you to become a huge influencer or a game-changer before you can work in the industry. But equally, unless you can show prospective employers that you know and love the various platforms that will become your bread and butter, you will lose out to more experienced experts.

Say you want to manage social media for a fashion label, you have to become interested in the field yourself. This way, you will know what resonates with your target audience and how to reach them.

And if there is one thing that social media has taught us, it is that nobody can do everything themselves; after all, some of the best posts on Instagram are collaborations between big stars and up-and-coming vloggers or bloggers. So even if you don’t have a huge following in your own right, you could make valuable connections with big names if only you show an interest.

Learn about the tools and tactics used

Running a personal social media account is very different from helping one for a business, and a major distinction is in the way that professionals use tools to their advantage.

You can familiarize yourself with the social media CRM platform options, the best scheduling tools, and the host of other software products that managers use to make their lives easier. Demonstrating your knowledge of these, along with an understanding of the strategies that go behind their use, will help you stand out from the crowd.

For instance, while you may be able to post effortlessly on Facebook, are you aware of the best time to do so? Do you know how many posts per day work for your audience or where the most popular hashtags are?

As a social media manager, keeping up with these trends is key. You need to stay ahead of them if only because clients will expect you to be able to do so. If this sounds like a lot of work, that is because it is but there are plenty of resources available on the web including blogs and online communities where marketers share their experiences with new software products or tactics they have tried out.

Get a relevant qualification

While social media is still a comparatively new phenomenon, it has quickly become an essential part of the way that modern business is done, specifically with regards to sales, marketing, and customer relationship management.

Should you wish to make it your career, then having a firm foundation of a relevant qualification will be worthwhile.

Degree-level courses featuring an emphasis on social media management are available at certain institutions and from particular providers. You could even opt to pursue post-graduate training in social media management if you have already completed your undergraduate studies.

At this point, you can also hone in on a specific area of social media that interests you the most. Perhaps you are eager to prioritize content creation and influencer marketing. Perhaps you are fascinated by the data science behind the ebb and flow of social media trends. Whatever the case, do not be afraid to focus your studies accordingly.

Start at the bottom of the ladder

Like all industries, social media is one that requires newcomers to take junior positions and climb the ladder to the dizzy heights of management through promotions over months and years.

So rather than expecting to waltz into a lucrative role right out of college, be willing to look at entry-level jobs and even outright apprenticeships.

This could be a great way to get your foot in the door with top businesses and agencies, which might be a stepping stone to bigger and better things, or could be a stable employment option for your entire career.

Check job listings to determine the skills you need to work on

Wherever you are in your journey to becoming a social media manager, one of the best ways to structure your efforts is to read job descriptions for the roles you hope to apply for.

This will let you know what skills and types of experience employers are seeking. For example, some postings may ask for a candidate with skills in photoshop while others might require proficiency in email marketing. Read between the lines and see what they are really asking for.

Having this insight will help you tailor your social media presence accordingly and make it more likely that you will obtain an interview if only because employers can easily see how closely aligned your interests are with their needs.

The best thing to do is learn as much as you can about the industry and make sure that your social media presence reflects this, whether it be via a blog where you share your insights or on one of the many social networks out there which allow for interaction between marketers.

Just remember that while individuals can become social media managers, businesses cannot. So your focus should always be on promoting the brand’s voice and projecting an image of professionalism through all channels.

You can then make up for any shortcomings in your own skillset so that when you do eventually apply, you meet the criteria.