Career Focus

Rising demand for social media managers

For businesses and companies, social media sites are emerging as important communication channels to market products, brands and generate new business

Wikipedia defines social media as “computer-mediated tools that allow people or companies to create, share, or exchange information, career interests, ideas, and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks”. In layman’s terms, it’s the information people and companies share on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, among others. According to market research firm Nielsen, internet users worldwide spend more time on social media than on other websites. This is rapidly becoming the norm as people build and share information with like-minded communities worldwide.

For businesses and companies, social media sites are emerging as important communication channels to market products, promote brands, connect with current customers and generate new business. As India’s e-commerce industry is expected to generate revenues of over Rs.670,000 crore by 2020, and 100 million Indians are scouring the internet for products and services information, social media management and marketing is emerging as a hot and happening 21st century career.

Social media management involves posting and updating content, monitoring, filtering, and measuring the online ubiquity of a brand, product, individual, institution or company — even political parties — on popular social media websites. This information is used by social media professionals to help companies improve brand exposure. To sucessfully execute these tasks, social media managers must possess adequate communication and writing skills and the ability to engage with people/customers online. Social media management software (SMMS) is used by managers to monitor internet conversations, document online social marketing initiatives and measure the usefulness of social media advertising and communications.

Study Programmes

A bachelor’s degree in advertising, media and communications, digital marketing, journalism, public relations, or business management is a good foundation for a career in social media management/marketing. This could be followed up with domain-dedicated short-term diploma/certificate courses.

Among institutions offering these programmes are Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Chennai; Digital Vidya, Delhi; Digital Academy India, Delhi; NIIT; EduKart, Delhi; the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) at its Mumbai and Delhi institutes and the Internet & Mobile Research Institute (IMRI), Bangalore.

Several US universities also offer degree and certificate programmes in social media management/marketing. Rutgers University offers ‘a mini-MBA’ in social media marketing and Austin Community College, Texas a two-year degree and certificate course in social media communication. The University of Florida offers an online Master’s degree in mass communication with specialisation in social media.

Formal education and training apart, it’s important to simultaneously enhance your knowledge and experience of social media usage by developing an online presence through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram profiles and blogs. This will add great value to your resume.

Pay and Perks

Freshers usually begin as assistant/junior social media managers at Rs.20,000-30,000 per month and a manager with three-four years’ experience can expect between Rs.60,000-100,000. Opportunities for freelance work from home are also available.

“With social media becoming an integral part of online life as websites and applications proliferate, there’s rising demand for digital savvy social media managers who love connecting with people. Managers must also have the skills and knowhow to handle negative feedback and online crises which could adversely impact brand visibility and reputation,” says Vivek Poonacha, a science graduate with an MBA from St. Joseph’s College of Business Administration, Bangalore who co-promoted Spry Social Pvt. Ltd, a social media management company, in 2011.

Five years on, Spry Social has grown to an 18-member team comprising content writers, journalists, graphic and web designers, business analysts and marketing professionals. “A rising number of companies are integrating social media into their marketing mix. As a result, there are multiplying opportunities for qualified professionals in a wide range of companies, NGOs, banks and even supermarkets. For digital ‘natives’ the social media landscape offers excellent opportunities to develop communication skills and capability to gauge people’s perceptions and convert them into business development messages,” says Poonacha.