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How To Get Into Social Media Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide

WVU Online | Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Social media is part of the everyday lives of the majority of people across the world. Because of this, brands have to have a social media presence to grow their brand awareness. The platforms may change based on the brand’s audience, positioning and purpose, but the fact remains — brands need social media marketing.

And you can’t just make posts and hope it works.

The algorithm and trends change constantly. Facebook penalizes link-based content, Instagram makes it hard to post links (please don’t put links in the copy, people can’t click them!), X/Twitter’s changes are still a mystery to many and TikTok has to be spot on to the trends.

This is where a social media marketer is needed. If you're a beginner looking to embark on a rewarding career in social media marketing, this comprehensive guide is your roadmap to success.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Before you can become a social media marketer, you have to understand what it is and how it differs from other digital marketing channels.

Social media is an online platform that facilitates the sharing of ideas and information by building virtual communities and networks. Social media marketing involves utilizing various social media platforms to connect with and influence your target audience.

It plays a pivotal role in a brand’s overall digital marketing strategy, fostering brand awareness, engagement and customer loyalty. Understanding the unique potentials of different social media platforms is crucial for crafting effective marketing strategies.

Each social media platform has its unique features and formats, and marketers often leverage different types of assets to effectively engage their audience. Here's a brief overview of the key assets used on popular social media platforms:


  • Text Posts: Share updates, announcements or ask questions through text-based posts.
  • Images: Visual content, including photos and graphics, to capture attention in the news feed.
  • Videos: Native video content for storytelling or promotional purposes.
  • Links: Share articles, blog posts or external content to drive traffic.
  • Events: Promote and create events for better engagement.
  • Ads: Facebook offers a variety of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, carousel ads and more.


  • Photos: High-quality images and graphics for visual storytelling.
  • Videos: Short-form videos through Instagram Reels or longer videos through IGTV.
  • Stories: Temporary content that disappears after 24 hours, often used for behind-the-scenes or timely updates.
  • Carousel Posts: Multiple images or videos in a single post.
  • IGTV: Longer videos for more in-depth content.
  • Instagram Ads: Similar to Facebook, Instagram offers various ad formats.


  • Text Posts: Professional updates, industry insights and business-related content.
  • Images: Professional graphics and images.
  • LinkedIn Articles: Longer-form content to showcase expertise.
  • Videos: Share video content or go live to engage with the professional community.
  • LinkedIn Slides: Presentations and slideshows for informative content.
  • LinkedIn Ads: Sponsored content, sponsored InMail and display ads.


  • Short-Form Videos: Quick, engaging videos often set to music, ranging from 15 to 60 seconds.
  • Duets: Collaborative videos where users can interact with each other's content.
  • Stickers and Filters: Enhance and personalize videos with creative elements.
  • Challenges: Participate in or create challenges to encourage user-generated content.
  • Hashtags: Utilize trending or branded hashtags for discoverability.
  • TikTok Ads: In-feed ads, branded hashtag challenges and branded effects.


  • Snaps: Short-lived photos or videos that disappear after being viewed (unless saved).
  • Stories: A collection of Snaps that lasts for 24 hours.
  • Filters and Lenses: Augmented reality overlays for creative and interactive content.
  • Snap Map: Share location-based content with friends.
  • Discover: A platform for publishers to share short-form content.
  • Snap Ads: Full-screen vertical video ads.


  • Tweets: Short text-based updates limited to certain character counts based on subscription levels.
  • Images and GIFs: Visual content to complement tweets.
  • Videos: Native videos or live streams for real-time engagement.
  • Polls: Engage followers by creating polls.
  • Threads: Connect multiple tweets for a more extended narrative.
  • Twitter Ads: Promoted tweets, trends and accounts (only for subscribers).


  • Videos: The primary content format, ranging from short clips to long-form videos.
  • Playlists: Organize videos around specific themes or topics.
  • Comments: Engage with the audience through comments on videos.
  • Thumbnails: Visually appealing images representing the video content.
  • YouTube Live: Livestreaming for real-time interaction.
  • YouTube Ads: TrueView ads, display ads and overlay ads.

Tailoring content to the specific strengths and features of each platform is essential for a successful social media strategy. Marketers often use a combination of these assets to create a diverse and engaging presence across multiple platforms.

Essential Skills for Social Media Marketers

A good social media marketer possesses a combination of skills, qualities and strategies that contribute to successful engagement, brand awareness and a positive impact on business objectives.

Here are essential skills that make a social media marketer valuable:

Technical skills:

A savvy social media marketer has an understanding of technical skills they can use to plan out and improve social media effectiveness and reach.

Here are a few technical skills and platforms to use:

1. Social Media Management Tools:

  • Examples: Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social, Later.
  • Why: Efficiently schedule posts, track engagement and manage multiple social media accounts from a centralized platform.

2. Data Analytics:

  • Examples: Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics.
  • Why: Interpret data to measure the performance of campaigns, track key metrics and make data-driven decisions.

3. Graphic Design:

  • Examples: Adobe Creative Suite, Canva.
  • Why: Create visually appealing and branded content, including images, infographics and social media graphics.

4. Video Editing:

  • Examples: Adobe Premiere, iMovie, InShot.
  • Why: Edit and produce engaging video content, including short-form videos for platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

5. Copywriting:

  • Examples: Grammarly, Hemingway Editor.
  • Why: Craft compelling and concise copy for social media posts, ads and captions. Make sure you’re matching your brand’s voice to reach their target audiences.

6. SEO Knowledge:

  • Examples: Keyword research tools, understanding of SEO principles.
  • Why: Optimize social media profiles and content for search engines to enhance discoverability.

7. Social Listening Tools:

  • Examples: Brandwatch, Mention.
  • Why: Monitor and analyze brand mentions, industry trends and sentiment across social media.

Staying current with the latest technological developments and continuously enhancing these technical skills is crucial for a social media marketer to thrive in a dynamic and competitive digital landscape.

Soft skills:

Equally important are soft skills such as creativity, communication, organizational skills, and adaptability.

These skills are the foundation for effective collaboration and successful campaigns. Here’s a look at some soft skills you can utilize:

Strategic Thinking:

  • Develop and execute a well-defined social media strategy aligned with overall business goals.
  • Understand the target audience and tailor content to resonate with them. Learn more about targeting markets with this guide.
  • Analyze data and metrics to make informed decisions and optimize strategies.


  • Generate innovative and visually appealing content that stands out.
  • Adapt to evolving trends and introduce creative elements to engage the audience.
  • Craft compelling storytelling that connects with the brand's narrative.

Communication Skills:

  • Write clear and concise copy for various social media platforms.
  • Engage with the audience through comments, messages and community management.
  • Communicate brand messaging consistently across all channels.


  • Stay up to date on industry trends, algorithm changes and emerging platforms.
  • Adapt content and strategies to changes in the social media landscape.
  • Embrace new technologies and tools for improved efficiency.

Organizational Skills:

  • Manage content calendars and schedule posts for optimal timing.
  • Coordinate campaigns and collaborations across different platforms.
  • Efficiently handles multiple tasks and projects simultaneously.


  • Identify challenges and proactively seek solutions.
  • Respond effectively to crises or negative situations on social media.
  • Anticipate potential issues and plan strategies to mitigate risks.

How To Get Into Social Media Marketing

Starting a career in social media marketing requires a strategic approach. Consider the following avenues:

Degrees, Certifications, and Courses

To be a successful social media marketer, you need the skills mentioned above, but you also need an understanding of the different aspects of marketing and how social media marketing fits into the business’ holistic marketing plan.

To begin a career in social media marketing, explore educational pathways through degrees, certifications and courses.

The WVU Online programs offer a range of options, including Integrated Marketing Communications M.S., Digital Marketing Communications M.S., and more.

Our programs are taught by practitioner faculty, bringing their real world into your online classes. They know the ins and outs of marketing and specialize in different aspects of marketing.

Alexis Schnell, M.S. IMC, already had a background in social media from her time in undergrad and her position before she started the IMC program, but there was more she still wanted to learn.

Her favorite course with the IMC program is a toss-up between creative strategy and social media marketing because these two courses combined her two passions and showed her where she could take her career.

When Lexi took on a new role near the halfway point of her master’s degree, and her experience in the IMC program gave her the confidence to make that leap.

Her time learning about social and digital media allowed her to bring a new perspective to her role and the team she was collaborating with.

Listen to Lexi’s story.

Gaining Practical Experience

One way to gain experience is to volunteer or do internships for local businesses or nonprofits. Many of them don’t have the bandwidth to strategize their social media marketing and can benefit from your skill set while you build your portfolio.

You’ll gain hands-on experience through different projects and build your portfolio — and possibly even be offered a job!

Another way is to build mock campaigns to showcase your skills and creativity. You can use these as a pitch to get a job.

Erin Robinson, M.S. IMC, already had her own marketing and design business before she thought about pursuing a master’s degree. Her time in the WVU IMC program gave her the additional knowledge to grow the services of her business and help it flourish.

"In most of the classes, we were able to choose our own client or who we wanted to focus on, so I would focus on local businesses in my area and even some clients that I've had in the past," Erin said. "I was able to put everything I learned into action so I will be able to implement it in the future."

Listen to Erin’s story.

The Importance of Networking and Mentorships

Networking is key to career growth. Engage with industry professionals on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms. Those professionals you engage with can help you get your foot in the door at a company they are connected to.

"My biggest advice in the program is to connect as much as you can with the students and professors. With it being an online format, you have to have the self-discipline to take advantage of any networking opportunities you can." — Ashlee Phillips, M.S. IMC

And seek mentorship to gain valuable insights and guidance. Those connections you make can mentor you as you begin your career in social media marketing.

Emerging Trends and the Future of Social Media Marketing

If you want to get into social media marketing, you have to know the emerging trends. As mentioned, one skill is adaptability.

One reason is being able to stay on top of and adapt your content to match emerging trends. Here are a few trends you need to know to stay competitive in social media marketing:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Every day it seems like a new tool has been launched or a new feature is available in AI platforms. ChatGPT has a GPT-4, exclusive to Plus users, apps have plug-ins for Zoom where you can summarize a meeting.

The options are endless. And now AI is being built into social media platforms.

The main thing to keep in mind when working with AI is to use it responsibly (AI was a popular topic at Integrate 2023; check out our recap to see what you missed!)

Short Form Video

Video continues to rule the digital landscape. People have a short attention span, which is why short-form content in TikToks and Reels meets their needs.

You even have YouTube Shorts, a minute or shorter video on what has been known as a long-form storytelling platform.

However, don't just create content for the sake of creating content. Make it creative, entertaining or informative. And don’t wait too long on a trend, you can easily miss your opportunity.

Emerging Platforms

While we can’t predict the future, we know new social media platforms will be launched throughout your career.

Just like Threads — launched in 2023 — which reached 100 million users in the first five days of the launch. Keep up to date on the latest platforms and keep up with your social listening.

In conclusion, marketers must embrace the transformative potential of AI and Machine Learning, keep a vigilant eye on emerging social media platforms, and cultivate a culture of continuous adaptation to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing successfully.

Career Pathways in Social Media Marketing

If you’re looking for career paths in social media, here are a few to explore:

Social Media Manager

A social media manager is a marketing professional who provides the voice and content for a brand across social channels.

They are responsible for responding to comments, creating content and keeping up to date with trends on social media. Social media managers look for opportunities to increase brand exposure for their brand or organization.

Digital Marketing Manager

A digital marketing manager is a professional who is responsible for maintaining a brand’s online presence and sales by working on various marketing campaigns.

Their duties include researching, strategizing with other professionals and creating content for successful campaigns. They often collaborate with marketing teams, sales teams, other support teams and vendors.

Content Marketing Manager

Content marketing managers are usually responsible for planning, developing, and implementing the company's overall content strategy.

They are responsible for the management of the creation and production of online and offline marketing content. These specialized managers coordinate content marketing operations, determining how to utilize content to meet company and target audience goals.

Social Media Strategist

Social Media Strategists help an organization decide which social networks to keep accounts on, and what kind of content to post and when, for maximum reach.

They often work with several different marketing, communications, and sales teams to create an engaging social media strategy.

Additionally, they keep meticulously detailed schedules, develop high-quality content, and maintain a consistent brand voice among all social media channels.

Digital Strategist

These specialists are responsible for using digital strategies to develop solutions and meet an organization's marketing objectives.

They use all of the necessary digital tools, such as website pages, emails, social media, and blog articles to coordinate digital strategies for a company or client. Often, Digital Strategists work on cross-functional teams and are comfortable using data to make decisions.

Start Your Career in Social Media Marketing at WVU Online

Kickstart your social media marketing journey with WVU Online programs. Whether you're interested in a master's degree, graduate certificate, or bachelor's degree, WVU Online offers comprehensive programs like Integrated Marketing Communications M.S., Data Marketing Communications M.S., and more.

Embark on your social media marketing career today and make a lasting impact in the digital landscape!

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