This week I started managing someone for the third time in my social media career. The first time was a group of student Digital Marketing Assistants who blew me away with their creativity. The second time was a fantastic graduate intern who took on every new task with vigour. I'm now managing a full-time Social Media Officer who's already smashing it, and it's made me very excited for the future.
Thinking about this made me look back on my career. My first thought was "God, I'm getting old"
I began working in social media at 22, volunteering for a local charity. From there I completed a marketing internship, got a role in digital marketing, went freelance for a while and then settled into the Social Media Manager role I have now. It's been seven years since that first job, and my career progression has been an absolute dream.
One of my favourite things about my career is getting to support people interested in social media. There's a lot to love about the job, and I want to make it accessible and enjoyable for a lot more people.
Here's five tips for anyone starting a new social media job:
Don't be afraid to try new things
Even though there's "best practice" for creating posts and running your channels, there isn't a single best way to use social media.
Channels such as Instagram and TikTok are constantly changing, and it's important to adapt with it. You may want to try a different visual style for your posts, or see what works better as a video. Whether your changes are small or huge, they're worth trying.
Some of my favourite people to work with are those who like to challenge the norm. If you have the freedom to be creative and different, seize it.
Remember - your team are the experts
Social media isn't simply a message board for information. It's a place to curate content, to understand what your audience wants to see and how they should see it.
Not everything in your organisation will be relevant on social media. For example, an internal event may not be suitable for your channels as you'd instead opt for internal communications such as email. Despite that, some people will push for these posts to go up.
Along with the rest of your team, you'll know what works best. You'll learn who your audience are, what posts perform well and when the best time to post something is. It's a difficult skill to learn at first, but eventually you'll stand your ground and say "no" to requests.
It helps to instead say "no, but..", for instance "no, but I think it'll work on an intranet page" or "no, but it should go on this other social media account instead". If needed, speak to a colleague if you need a second opinion or stronger backing.
Build relationships across your organisation
Trust me, this is a big one.
There'll be plenty of exciting things happening in other teams, from big events to proud achievements. Often, you won't hear about them. So how do you stay in the loop?
By talking to people across a range of departments, you'll develop stronger connections. When those big news stories happen, they'll (most likely) tell you about it because they know you and your work.
This won't always happen - some things slip through the cracks - but it helps in the long run.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Sometimes, social media jobs can feel lonely. I've worked in organisations where I'm the only social media person, or where I haven't felt comfortable approaching someone to understand something. However, it's better to reach out than to struggle.
You may choose to ask someone in a similar role, or someone who's been at the organisation a while. They will likely have information you don't, or can point you in the right direction.
Alternatively, look outside of your workplace - there's a ton of groups who support social media professionals and offer a helping hand. Working in higher education, I often turn to #HigherEdSocial for not just help, but for the latest social media developments.
You should also reach out when it comes to your mental health - if you're having a bad time, don't deal with it alone. The start of a new job can be tough, and you may feel overwhelmed. Make sure you've got someone you can speak to, and do things outside of work hours that make you happy.
Be proud of what you do
This is one of the biggest things you should do.
Everyone will have an opinion about your work. Whether it's someone who follows your organisation's accounts or a colleague in another team, you'll encounter people who'll offer an (often unwarranted) comment. On top of that, it's easy to see people who have been working in the sector for a long time and think "why am I not as good as them?"
You're at the start of your career, and nobody should expect you to be perfect. Entering the workplace doesn't mean you've learned everything you need to know. We should all continue learning throughout our careers, developing our skills and adapting to an ever-changing sector.
Look at your work and say what you like about it. Maybe it's a really unique piece of work, or perhaps it's a project you've put a lot of time into. It could be as simple as making one change to a piece of copy, or helping someone out with an enquiry. Whatever it is, look at it with pride.