A social media specialist creates an effective online advertising campaign with the goal of increasing an organization's online exposure. Common duties include creating content for social networking and blogging sites, researching customers' online behavior, investigating the trends of competing companies and performing other marketing duties. Some social media specialists also build websites, create videos and make graphics for use in their online advertising campaigns. To become a social media specialist, you will need to have excellent writing skills, be an effective marketer and have experience using relevant computer applications and websites. A college degree focusing on communications skills or marketing also may be required.
Some social media specialists may need a bachelor's degree that focuses on writing skills, advertising and technology. If you already have significant experience in social media, then some employers and freelance jobs won't require the degree. If you do decide to obtain a degree, it's helpful to focus on marketing, communications or journalism. You also should take some courses in web design, advertising and multimedia, so you will be prepared for the technological aspects of social media. Those who want to advance in the field or teach classes about social media may eventually consider a master's degree in online marketing, although this is rarely required to become a social media specialist.
Web design, search engine optimization (SEO) and graphic design are additional skills needed to become a social media specialist. Although some professionals focus mostly on writing materials for existing websites, others design website layouts, make logos and create graphical advertisements. Knowing SEO is critical to gaining exposure on the web, and most employers require you to use websites that analyze keywords to find out the popular topics trending on the web. You also should be familiar with productivity software used to create spreadsheets, presentations and documents.
Social media specialists usually have at least a couple years of experience in marketing and online media, including experience posting content to various social networking, online video and blogging websites. You also may need experience recording and editing videos and shooting and editing images. To become a social media specialist, excellent written and oral communication skills are critical, and you should have extensive experience writing online content using the Associated Press (AP) writing style. Freelance projects are a good way for aspiring social media specialists to gain experience in all these areas, and they may help you get a position later at a larger company.