It’s hard to believe that back in 2005 (16 years ago!) social media was only comprised of MySpace and AOL Instant Messenger, and Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t a name you’d recognize. Fast forward to 2022, and if we can stay off social media for an hour straight, we consider that an accomplishment. Social media has turned into more than just connecting individuals socially – people use social media for their businesses, marketing, advocacy platforms, and much more. In other words, it isn’t surprising that companies now offer social media strategy, social media marketing, and social media consulting positions. These jobs are now their own branch of the traditional marketing division, and they aren't going away anytime soon.
So, what about those individuals that freelance their social media services to companies? Social media consulting is becoming a hot career, but how does one become successful in social media consulting, and better yet, can you make a decent income off of this career path? Read on to find out if social media consulting is the right fit for you.
The 101 on Social Media Consultants
First and foremost: what is a social media consultant? A social media consultant is a qualified individual offering social media marketing services to clients. The main skill set for a social media consultant is planning and executing a social media strategy to promote a company's brand, product, and services on social media networks. The other keyword here? Qualified.
Anyone can claim to be a social media consultant, but companies should do their research before hiring a consultant. To be a qualified consultant, you need to have several key skills:
- Exceptional knowledge of the social media industry as a whole and not just a particular network, such as Facebook or Instagram.
- Consultants should understand advertising, networking, and content creation. You’ll often find consultants who have just one or two of these skills (almost always the “content creation” aspect), so be on the lookout.
- He or she should be able to identify the target audience for the company they will be representing and research the market in question. For example, social media for an ecommerce company is quite different from a B2B company. They should have a general understanding of how the business uses social media.
- Consultants need to be to get through to their target audience and influence them. Often, it’s as simple as properly implementing the correct point of view (PoV) in your text. For example, second person PoV is a very powerful and unique perspective that provides a way of connecting with your audience and addressing the reader directly. Second person is best utilized when the point of the piece is to address the reader of the work for instructional or emotional impact.
- A few other responsibilities for a qualified consultant include optimizing paid social media campaigns, strategic planning, training other professionals on how social media networks work, and reporting metrics.
Pros of Social Media Consulting
One of the obvious pros (especially d is that social media consulting is often a work-from-home position. This means that consultants can perform the job wherever and whenever they want as long as they're doing the work and making deadlines.
Another pro to freelancing is that you can offer your consulting services to a wide range of industries, which can teach you new marketing skills and expand your career opportunities as you grow your knowledge of marketing strategies in different fields. You can help small businesses, worker's compensation lawyers, and many more who may need social media and not even know it. This will only make you more marketable to prospective clients, and once your business starts to grow, the fun begins and you can start narrowing in on your brand and the type of social media consultant you really want to be (eCommerce focused? Love the travel industry? Love working with B2B brands? Everyone will need help with social media in 2022).
Cons of Social Media Consulting
The downside of freelance consulting is being one's own boss. While it may feel great to not answer to anyone and to choose your schedule, you do have to answer to the client. That being said, freelance social media consultants need to be self-motivated and disciplined to be successful in this business. Furthermore, if you love social media, you need to make sure that making a career out of it won’t cause you to A. Start to dislike something you once loved or B. Cause burnout.
Freelancing also means inheriting more than one job. Unless the money is flowing, freelancers will need to do the accounting, billing, taxes, marketing, and networking for their business. Marketing and networking are the biggest components of growing a business, and it isn’t as easy as it sounds. It’s important to market yourself on Indeed, Upwork, Freelancer, etc., and go to social media conventions and mingle with businesses that may need a spruce up in their social media strategy and content. In short, while some may consider this a “pro” to the job, an individual must believe in themselves and their business to make it as freelance social media consultants. You are responsible for everything and the outcome.
Social Media Consulting Salary
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a social media consultant is $42,855 annually. However, there is a wide range of pay for social media consultant jobs because some individuals only do this part-time or on the side. ZipRecruiter has seen salaries as high as $88K and as low as $16,500.
Going the freelance route, the average hourly rate for consultants is between $20 and $40. Social media consultants should consider experience when determining an hourly rate, and keep in mind, freelancers typically have more than one client. If you're just starting, consider taking on smaller jobs with multiple clients, or a few clients that pay less to build your clientele.
Finally, freelancers should create a business website to show off their work and showcase positive reviews from past clients. The site should also include a description of their work and how much it costs. The benefit of marketing yourself and creating a website is gaining clients and showing potential clients your capabilities. A professional marketing email should also be set in place.
In the end, social media consulting can be a satisfying and lucrative career, but only if you put in the work to market yourself, put your best work forward, and continue to believe in yourself. You need to be a self-motivator and disciplined to be a freelancer. If freelancing doesn't seem like a great fit for you, but you're interested in social media marketing, there are alternatives! A career to consider would be as a Social Media Specialist, which has more of a focus on day-to-day marketing operations than Social Media consultants and assists with strategy and metrics. The world is constantly evolving, and so are career opportunities. Social media is not going away anytime soon and jobs are only going to be increasing around the topic. If you're considering a role in social media consulting, we hope the above tips help you