How to Kickstart Your Career as a Social Media Marketer: Degrees and Pathways

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New opportunities continue to emerge for social media marketing careers. For instance, in 2021 the influencer marketing economy grew from nearly 2.0 billion to almost 13.8 billion. That included approximately 50 million diverse content creators.

Many of these new jobs arise because our digital age keeps expanding ways brand owners market to consumers. This increases social media marketer career pathways, creating a fresh variety of industry careers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) segments social media marketer specialists along with other types of public relations specialists. This includes diverse titles, such as digital engagement specialist, social media strategist, and online community manager. The BLS projects that the public relations workforce sector will grow 6 percent from 2022 to 2032. That’s faster than average for all occupations. The increasing popularity of social media complicates the job landscape as well, though. That’s because there may be more openings, but it’s also likely more people will seek them.

Understanding the Social Media Marketer Career

Technology keeps getting more accessible and less expensive for marketers as well as consumers. This has boosted options for seller marketing and increased competition among influencers. That’s why social media marketing has shifted from influencer dominance to now provide sellers more leverage.

Influencers can range from celebrities to business leaders, sports icons, and the boy next door. This creates a rainbow of ways to promote products and services using social media. The variety of influencers also enables micro-targeting for consumer groups given the specific preferences and lifestyles of some influencers’ fan followers.

To serve their brand partners, influential content creators tailor their brand messaging with photos, videos, blogs, and livestreams. Influencer dedicated media often reviews or features a seller’s branded products or services. Social media marketers work with these influencers to align this messaging with their brand strategy. They work together to highlight brand benefits and appeal to a target audience. This helps influencer marketing boost the seller’s bottom line.

Key social media marketing skills include content creation, data analysis, creativity, and adaptability. Serving both the brand and the influencer’s interests requires keen communication in a fast-paced environment as well. The world of social media moves fast and is ever-changing. So, marketing in social media means keeping up with market trends and events daily as well. This is one of the many ways social media marketing parallels the PR industry.


Education Pathways to a Social Media Marketing Career

Gaining expertise in social media marketing gets more competitive as the market expands with the continuing rise in digital media usage and popularity. To best compete in this market and start a social media marketing career, entry usually requires at least a bachelor’s degree.

Degree programs for digital marketing that may also work for aspiring social media marketers include public relations, communications, and business. While others narrow the focus to media related subjects such as advertising, marketing, and journalism. In addition, many universities now offer bachelor’s degree programs in social media marketing. Many schools provide such programs as concentrations in social media marketing within an overall marketing degree. While some other universities offer dedicated social media marketing bachelor’s degrees.

Bachelor’s in Business

A general business degree can kick off your steps to becoming a social media marketer. That’s because many business degree programs offer a marketing concentration. These types of degrees are sometimes called BBAs in Marketing (Bachelor’s in Business Administration). General business degree programs typically segment their curriculum into categories such as core classes, majors, and concentrations. Here are some examples of courses that might be offered for a BA in Business.

Core Classes: Principles of Financial Accounting, Business Ethics, Statistics for Business and Economics, Creating and Growing Sustainable Ventures, Business Analytics
Major Courses: Operations Management, Business and Society, Fundamentals of Marketing, Organizational Behavior, Strategic Management, Business Law
Concentrations: Accounting, Social Media Marketing, Finance, Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Business Administration, Strategic Management, Digital Media Marketing, International Business

Bachelor’s in Marketing or Communications

Marketing and Communications bachelor’s degrees both expand education options for digital marketers. The goal for a communications degree program centers around reaching people with a clear and articulate message. By contrast, marketing’s main goal is usually about education and activation for a brand, product, or service.

These degree programs also maintain crossover skillsets and applications. They revolve around information sharing, consumer relationships, and business strategies. These commonalities demonstrate why their degree programs share many courses, majors, and specializations. Communications and marketing are well suited degrees for prospective social media marketers.
Common courses, majors and specialties in these programs include:

Courses: Digital Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media, Digital Media Strategies, Marketing Mix Implementation, The Business of Social, Meta Marketing Communications, Media Analytics
Majors: Integrated Marketing Communications, Communications and Media, Journalism and Mass Communication, Public Relations and Marketing Communications, Media and Marketing
Specializations: Social Media Marketing, Strategic Media Marketing and Communications, Digital Media Marketing, Communications Management, Marketing Analytics, Public Relations Communications, Business Marketing

Bachelor’s in Digital Media

Digital media often works as a concentration within a communications or marketing degree program. But it continues to evolve into a distinct discipline due to technological innovations and the pervasive way mass media increasingly impacts our lives.

In fact, digital media has revolutionized the way brands and consumers interact. That’s largely thanks to the advent of social media and the instantaneous communication pathways it’s opened. Here’s a quick digital marketing education guide to help give you an idea of what a digital media degree program might entail.

Courses: Digital Consumer Insights, Mass Marketing Communications, Social Media Analytics, Digital Media Strategies, Content Marketing and Social Media, Digital Journalism
Majors: Communications and Media, Journalism and Mass Communication, Digital Marketing Communications, Public Relations and Digital Marketing Communications, Online Media and Marketing
Specializations: Strategic Media Marketing and Communications, Digital Media Marketing, Content Management, Digital Design, Social Media Marketing, Strategic Media Marketing and Communications, Digital Communications Management

Bachelor’s in Advertising

The onset of digital media dominance in our culture has transformed advertising degree programs. The main objective of advertisers revolves around operating and communicating brands strengths and benefits to consumers. As tools and methods of media communication have splintered to online and mobile users, advertisers have shifted their strategies to adapt. Given the financial gains at stake, it’s crucial that advertisers of today and tomorrow stay culturally current.

2023 spending for ads in the U.S. reached nearly $350 billion. This includes online, social, digital, traditional television, billboard, and even public relations. Because these all fit under the advertising umbrella, the advertising degree program offers various opportunities for building skills and figuring out your preferences. Let’s investigate the educational opportunities presented in an advertising bachelor’s degree program.

Courses: Writing for Communication, Professional Presentation, Understanding Social Media, Marketing Strategies, Creative Direction, Market Research and Analytics, Brand Experience, Portfolio Development
Majors: Advertising, Communications and Public Relations, Marketing and Mass Communication, Organizational Marketing and Management, Advertising Research and Strategy, Branding and Corporate Communications, Strategic Media Marketing
Concentrations: Digital Marketing Communications, Online Media Design, Digital Media Marketing, Advertising Content Management, Social Media Marketing, Creative Strategy and Implementation

Bachelor’s in Public Relations

Public relations degree programs typically provide social media and digital marketing industry insights. That’s because PR and social media marketing share key tenets and applications in the job market. These two careers both involve marketing and communications. Also, social media marketing and PR require staying on top of media and culture trends as well as a high level of technological savvy.

Often students pursuing a degree in public relations take courses in communications and marketing. Here are some examples of typical curriculum courses, majors, and concentrations for a bachelor’s in PR.

Courses: Media Writing, Mass Media Ethics, What is Social, Marketing Strategies, Mass Communication, Personal Branding, Public Speaking
Majors: Public Relations Management, Public Communications, Media Marketing, Media Relations, Marketing Research and Strategy
Concentrations: Marketing Analytics, Social Media Marketing, Corporate Communication, Mass Media, Organizational and Client Management

Internships and Practical Experience

Internships could afford you practical experience that may give you an advantage when entering the social media marketing job market. For instance, you might learn networking tips for digital marketers and social media marketing trends firsthand. You could also use this experience to begin building a strong social media marketing portfolio.

Internships offer a chance to try some of the job roles in social media marketing. These hands on job experiences could also start you on the steps to a successful social media marketing career. After all, employers often prefer candidates with practical experience. It doesn’t have to be at Instagram or working for the Kardashians. You could start off promoting your blog or your school’s online paper using social media to show an affinity and skills in social media marketing. Showing initiative and enthusiasm like that might help you land the internship of your dreams.

Pursuing a Social Media Marketing Career

There are several more steps you could take to help launch a career in social media marketing. For instance, employers tend to like to hire candidates with competitive portfolios that demonstrate strong interest and experience in social media. Networking may also help boost your chances of finding employment because it can help you make crucial industry connections.
Social media works in a constant state of flux with ever changing trends and new technologies. This means staying current and educated can be crucial to remaining relevant in the workforce. Luckily there are online resources that could help you keep abreast of industry events and standards.

Building a Portfolio

Portfolios serve as a showcase for your best work when seeking social media marketing job opportunities. Strong social media marketing portfolios are more than mere social media accounts. They include real campaigns, content samples, and analytics reports. Once way to kick off your portfolio could be to build a website and associated social media profile with strategic content for which you record growth metrics.
This website might include examples of your social media successes as well as insights into your process. Here you can show how you stand apart from the pack. You may also want to provide your resume, showcase your best work product, and list your services. Helpful additional content like client testimonials as well as examples of research and tools that show your industry knowldge would also illustrate your practical experience.

Networking and Industry Engagement

Networking puts the social in social media marketing. This industry revolves around attending conferences, chatting with relevant online groups, and making connections with influencers as well as industry leaders. Creating a network could help you stay up to date because it’s easier to keep up in the social media world with partners who are also invested in digital marketing. Best of all, these contacts could also assist you when it’s time to look for employment. Luckily, social media makes it easy to keep in touch and check in with people because it tends to be casual and less of an imposition than email or a phone call.

Continuous Learning

It’s crucial to stay updated in the rapidly changing landscape of social media platforms and digital marketing strategies. Building a network of fellow social marketers could help keep you educated about the relentless influx of ever-changing media events and trends. There are also relevant online courses and certificate programs that shift with the times to help you stay on track and relevant. On an everyday basis, industry blogs, podcasts, and webinars may serve as useful refreshers as well.


Steps to launching a successful career in social media marketing include a bachelor’s degree, practical experience, networking, and portfolio building. Aspiring social media marketers can combine academic knowledge with hands-on learning to thrive in the ever-evolving field of digital media marketing. Check out these dynamic degree programs designed for future social media marketers right here and right now .

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