Can you have a career just in ‘social media’?

It’s funny that when I left University four, nearly five, years ago my main marketing activities centred around tradeshows, PR, print ads, email marketing and postal campaigns. Social media was a thing, but a social media career? No way. It just wasn’t seen as something that all businesses had to do.

Nowadays, most business enquiries I get for marketing services start like this:

‘Hey we’re looking for someone to do our social media – can you help?’

Potentially, because social media is time consuming and it needs experience, therefore it’s worth outsourcing. Companies also seem to feel a pressure with social media that they just don’t feel with email marketing or website optimisation. That they have to be doing it or rise missing out. This is where the social media career has come from. Studies rank marketing careers as the 6th most popular career choice for Millennials and if you’re really serious about it, you can even have a title like ‘Social Media Architect‘ (which is an agency-side Social Media Manager for anyone who’s not ridiculous).

However, out of all of my contracts that begin with social media – there is rarely one that ends with it.

Usually this is how the conversion goes:

“Can you do our social media?”

Then a few months later…

“Could you write for our blog too?”


“What about these landing pages, could you do those?”

The thing about marketing is that everything ties into everything else. ‘Digital marketing’ isn’t so much a thing as just ‘marketing’ because regardless of the type of company, marketing transverses both online and off lien channels.

If your sole speciality is social media, at some point you’re going to need to offer other services or hire someone who offers other services.

This is why many companies now want to employ marketers who can cover each area, rather than being sole specialists in say PPC, or Twitter ads.

If we play marketing bingo for a moment, let’s look at the areas in ‘digital’ marketing that you could cover (alongside social media) and where they might pop up in a marketing strategy:

  • Copywriting for web
  • Web landing pages
  • Blogging
  • Guest blogging
  • Social media strategy
  • Social media ads
  • Email campaigns
  • White papers and eBooks
  • PPC and SEO
  • Community building
  • Online PR
  • CRM

For example, if you begin running a social media strategy for a brand, one of the first things you’re going to think about is tone of voice. This is usually cemented in the brand’s web copy.

If the brand doesn’t have great web copy, you’re either going to need to start from scratch or you’re going to have to rewrite their web copy.

Next as you begin to build your social media campaigns, you realise that’s it’s not good enough to just send out updates. You need action from those updates. You naturally want to build following on the channels but it’s likely you’ll have secondary goals where you want to send traffic into a funnel through web landing pages or data capture forms. Then, to get real traction you may need to use social media ads to help drive traction to your campaigns and landing pages. As we all know, organic reach is hard to find.

You also need stuff to share on social media so you start to write blogposts and then realize that you need to focus on SEO for the blogposts to also gain traction on their own terms.

But social media is fickle, so you decide to begin building email campaigns with an email marketing list strategy too. This ties into your CRM where you segment your customers and potential customers from the campaigns you’re running.

To get more people into your email list you might write an eBook or whitepaper with a data capture form (that’s held in a landing page, naturally). Then you realize you’ve become quite good at this blogging lark and you decide to write for other people too – there comes your guestblogging campaign.

The gues blogging sends a huge amount of traffic back to your site (where you capture leads and gain social media followers too) so you decide to try online PR where you get quoted or featured in online publications to get the same exposure (plus backlinks for your SEO plan).

Before you know it, you are running the entire digital marketing function. When you only started out in social media! Funny right?

Sure you can just do social media on its own but it turns out, each part of a digital strategy ties into another part. Not every channel will be right for every company but there’s going to be at least two or three that will need to work together to ensure a better outcome.

social media channels by popularity

Also, if you were focusing on Facebook and Twitter here’s a heads up that you need to be looking towards anything with a ‘messenger’ in it instead. Image source: smart insights

I personally prefer it when a company either has an in-house marketing team who I can work closely with, or when they hand their entire marketing function over to me. It actually makes life easier when you’re handling multiple parts of the strategy, as you face less blockers as the campaign begins to build traction. With web pages, data capture and email lists at your disposal, you can have a much better effect on the marketing overall and create social media campaigns that actually work – rather than just achieving vanity metrics.

For anyone entering social media right now as a career, it’s definitely a great gateway to marketing and there’s a huge demand for it in the corporate world. However, I’d be advising them not to stop at social when there are so many other skill pools you could dip your toes into.

So the next time you start a social media contract with a client, maybe ask who’s managing their landing pages/email list and so on.

Or the next time you think about hiring someone for your website or social media, maybe ask what other skills they have too.

You know, just in case.