March 30, 2011— -- Social media jobs are everywhere: just ask Charlie Sheen.
The search is still on for Sheen's "Tiger Blood intern." It doesn't necessarily sound like a legitimate job, but his social media intern posting on Internships.com generated thousands of applicants, and is yet another example of a growing trend: businesses that hire employees to manage social networks.One of Sheen's applicants was Anthony DeWitt, a junior journalism student at Arizona State University. Though he applied as a "joke" to see how far he would get in the process, he advanced to the second round of the application process before eventually getting eliminated.As described in the job posting, the Tiger Blood intern will "monitor major social media platforms," including Sheen's Twitter account, which has over 3 million followers.DeWitt said a job with Charlie Sheen probably wouldn't help his career, but he would consider a career in social media."I believe it is rapidly changing the way journalism works and I want to be a part of that change," DeWitt said.
Social media platforms aren't just for finding jobs, they also create jobs. From the corporate offices of Comcast, Disney, and Ford to smaller nonprofits, businesses are paying people to tweet, Facebook, and blog.Different companies manage social media staff in different ways, according to Anthony Rotolo, a social media professor at Syracuse University.While smaller organizations may ask interns to handle things like Facebook pages, other companies are hiring community managers or social media strategists.In a day's work, someone working in social media could interact with customers and followers in different platforms, create content such as blog entries or videos, and measure web traffic to develop outreach strategies."These positions are focused on building relationships with an organization's audience, learning from customer feedback and even acting as an advocate for the customer," Rotolo said.Because the size of companies varies, so does the salary for professionals in social media.For example, FastrackMedia is hiring a Social Media and Digital Content Consultant. According to a job posting, the full-time position pays $30,000 to $40,000 with benefits.Another company, One Social Media LLC, a company that helps other companies build social media campaigns, is hiring their own social media project manager, a salaried position offering $35,000 to $50,000 per year. It is also looking for a social media sales consultant -- someone who is "social media savvy." The posting says the pay is based on commission, which could "realistically earn you between $70k - $100k in the first year."
Building A Career In Social Media
Joe Soto, CEO of One Social Media, said he would "definitely consider someone fresh out of college" and just hired a recent graduate of Drake University to work at his company, which educates and trains businesses on how to use social media marketing. Soto said all but one of his sales staff is under the age of 30.Paul Levinson, a media studies professor at Fordham University and author of "New New Media," a book about social media trends, said jobs in social media are generally well paying jobs because "they're so crucial to the company.""Social media has become completely integrated into our lives," Levinson said. "That's why companies are hiring people to take care of just a Facebook page, for example. [Social media] is not a casual thing."In some cases, getting hired has nothing to do with a resume and cover letter, just an eye-catching message in 140 characters or less: a job application consisting of a single tweet.That's how Marc Jacobs International is hiring its newest employee -- someone to run the MarcJacobsIntl Twitter account.Since February 13, Marc Jacobs has been interviewing candidates based on the best tweets. As @MarcJacobsIntl tweeted: "Your tweets are the only qualification we're interested in."In a field where the biggest qualification is being social media savvy, sometimes the least experienced applicants make the best ones."Younger candidates are often thought of as better qualified for social media positions," said Rotolo. "I have had a number of students who have been hired as social media managers."It's an industry where recent college graduates have an edge, according to Levinson. "Someone who is just out of college could have enormous experience in social media, and that's not the case in other job areas."
College Students Seek Social Media Jobs
College students are beginning to see social media as a viable career option.Jordan Valinsky, a senior at Ohio University, is one of those students.Although he is finishing a degree in online journalism, his job search is geared more toward writing tweets than articles.His interest in social media grew after an internship with travel magazine Condé Nast Traveler last summer."My boss didn't have a lot of time for [Facebook and Twitter] and gave it to me saying, 'Have fun with this, figure out something for us,'" Valinsky said.After running the magazine's presence on Facebook and Twitter, Valinsky created a blog on Tumblr.com."I think it improved their brand a lot, especially to a younger generation because the Traveler magazine is definitely geared to an older demographic, and now with Facebook and Twitter there are more younger people following us," he said.For some students, a job in social media is an extension of what they are already studying.As a sport, arts and entertainment management student at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pa., Elizabeth Birdsell has used Twitter and Facebook as tools in public relations work.After her professors pushed her to start a Twitter account and use it for marketing and PR, she landed an event planning internship with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership last year where many of her daily responsibilities included online and social media marketing."It was an incredible feeling the first time I learned that @downtownpitt was 'trending' on Twitter and noticed our Facebook 'likes' climbing," Birdsell said.She's now looking to land a job that combines her major and her love of social networking.Instead of carving a career path in social media, Amanda Levendowski, a senior at NYU, is hoping to use her social media internship as a supplement to a different career.Levendowski plans to attend law school next year and study intellectual property law. For now, she is the communications intern for the National Coalition Against Censorship.She's hoping the internship will teach her the ins and outs of social media to better understand the changing field of intellectual property law."Facebook has already been embroiled in several debates surrounding its users privacy, ownership of uploaded or deactivated content, as well as what happens to an account after a user's death," Levendowski said. "New forms of online content are constantly being generated, and understanding how that content works may be critical in developing new legislation which protects users."She said her position with the NCAC was ideal because it combines her interest in IP law, and requires skills she knows intuitively."[Our generation] doesn't have to spend house learning how to Tweet, or learning about what a hashtag is. We use it all the time," she said. "We grew up with the Internet."
Social Media Jobs: Qualifications
If the traditional resume and cover letter doesn't cut it for careers in social media, then what does?As Soto of One Social Media is trying to fill his social media openings, he said he is looking for someone who is "a believer, user, and implementer" of various platforms.According to Rotolo, it's "excellent communication skills and a passion for connecting with people on the web."It helps to have an established online "brand," or some kind of portfolio and website to showcase existing work.If applicants can establish brands for themselves, it makes it more likely that they can grow the brand of the company they are working for -- or in the case of the Tiger Blood intern, "promote and develop the social media network of Hollywood's most trending celebrity."This means that job seekers should be well-versed in a number of social networking sites, including LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace, and emerging networks such as Quora, a social Q&A site.Job postings can be found on websites such as Mashabable.com, a website about social and digital media news.While younger applicants may appear to have the edge in this industry, Rotolo says it's not a rule of thumb."There are many examples of successful social media professionals who are more senior," he said."It is more important that the individual possess the right experience to meet the organization's needs … and have a deep knowledge of its customers and culture."Soto said the perfect of example of this is found within his own company. While almost everyone on his staff is under 30, he has one social media sales consultant that is 52 years old. "And she's my top sales person."ABCNews.com reporter Danielle Waugh is a member of the ABC News on Campus program in Syracuse, N.Y.