Published: 30 January 2018
A few years ago, the idea of being a ‘Social Media Manager’ would have been almost laughable – how hard can it be to ‘manage’ your notifications!? Social media is so much more than taking selfies, instagramming your breakfast or sharing memes on Facebook though, it’s a powerful business tool that has resulted in an explosion of exciting jobs and careers.
The rise of social media has been one of the most remarkable developments over the last couple of decades. Its growth has been unstoppable, fundamentally changing the way we consume information, purchase goods and even interact with each other, to the point that businesses now ignore it at their peril. The majority are realizing the value of having a presence on the platforms where their customers are, and are creating roles or even teams dedicated to taking advantage of this.
Even with that in mind, there are still misconceptions that a degree in social media isn’t a wise career choice, that there aren’t jobs in social media, or that your career path is narrowed by a limited sector. This couldn’t be further from the truth though; the rise of social media as a business tool is still in its infancy and it will only grow and develop in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Here are just a few things you can do with a degree in social media.
Engage with people (and lots of them!)
In how many jobs can you say, ‘something I said reached thousands of people today’? There were more than 2.80 billion global social media users in 2017, equalling a 37% penetration of the entire population of the world, which provides an unrivalled audience that you can target a message or campaign at. Other advertising methods can reach only a fraction of this, and are far more difficult to measure.
Knowing how best to engage this audience will make you an invaluable member of any marketing team, and arguably the one capable of having the most impact. Whether it’s responding to customer queries, promoting your products, or driving engagement through photos or video posts, the instant and direct access you have to people will be the envy of other marketing teams. The content you’ll be creating can grow and engage your audience very quickly, and a degree in social media will give you the expertise needed to effectively analyse what works and what doesn’t.
Our BA (Hons) Social Media Management degree here at Sunderland is set up to do exactly that. Jenny Wotherspoon, Programme Leader, says: "We've spent time working with employers to make sure at the end of this degree you have the key skills to find work as a social media manager. We want students to be experts in creating and sharing content, as well as analysing and engaging social media audiences.
"What sets our degree apart from other social media degrees is a focus on content creation – from gifs and video production to data visualisation or 360-degree photography – we will be teaching the latest content creation tools and techniques and encouraging creativity and innovation."
"Almost every business has a social media presence. If you can you can create great content and grow and engage online audiences, you could work virtually anywhere for anybody, including for yourself."
Programme Leader, BA (Hons) Social Media Management
Enjoy flexible and varied work
The world of social media is always active and always moving, which not only means that you’ll always have plenty to keep you busy, but you might find that your role goes beyond the standard 9 to 5 – you’ll need to make sure you are always wherever, and whenever, the action is. Generating content for social media will keep your role equally as dynamic too – your Snapchats, Instagram posts and Facebook livestreams are unlikely to be very engaging if you’re sat at a desk all day. Working in social media will get you out about, seeing what’s going on in your local area and beyond, as well as meeting new people.
The world of social media is so fast moving that staying on top of the latest trends and developments is almost a job in itself, but it means that you’ll certainly never get bored. As the platforms grow and develop, so will the jobs, keeping you on your feet and ensuring your role stays fresh and exciting. The range of jobs that use social media are continuing to grow as more and more businesses recognise its importance.
Roles in which you can use a degree in social media include:
- Social Media Manager
- Social Media Analyst
- Social Media Assistant
- Social Media and Content Strategist
- Digital Marketing Executive
- Digital Community Manager
- Digital Content Editor
- Digital Communications Officer
- Marketing Manager
- Communications Manager
- Communications Assistant
- Public Relations Assistant
These are just a few examples – the opportunities are virtually endless. Jenny adds: "Almost every business has a social media presence. If you can you can create great content and grow and engage online audiences, you could work virtually anywhere for anybody, including for yourself.”
Earn great money
According to Indeed, the average Social Media Specialist salary in the UK is £26,417, rising to over £60,000 for more senior roles, so the opportunities for career progression are plentiful. In fact, a search for ‘social media’ jobs on the same site returns over 20,000 jobs, so you won’t be short of choice if you decide to pursue a career in social media.
Plus, there’s the added bonus that the fact that you can access social media from almost any device means your office could be anywhere you want it to be. Freelance social media roles are growing, allowing you to work from home, a park, or wherever you can get internet access.
A particularly unique feature of the degree at Sunderland is the fact that you can achieve a media law qualification. Jenny comments: “We are not just creating social media managers – but legally safe social media managers – which will set our students apart when it comes to gaining employment.
“You’ll leave Sunderland with a strong theoretical understanding of the place of social media in political, social and ethical contexts. You’ll be engaging with the latest academic arguments in the field and you will hopefully be at the forefront of driving key discussions and developments surrounding the use of social media in your future career."
A degree in social media opens up an exciting world of possibilities. Whether it’s the constantly evolving industry, the exciting and unique jobs, or the career progression opportunities, there is plenty to argue that a career in social media is a more than worthwhile pursuit. If you ‘like’ working on the latest technology and apps, would ‘favourite’ a job that changes day to day, or think getting your message out to thousands is worth an ‘upvote’, a degree in social media may be just the right ‘platform’ to get you started.