The last thing Aliya S. King expected to find in her inbox back in May was a Craigslist posting asking for a social media Web strategist for ICED Media, an online marketing and research company based in New York City. Her interest peaked as she thought to herself, “This is what I do all day, every day. I update a blog (aliyasking.com), I’m on Facebook, [and] I’m on Twitter.” But the full-time freelance writer had some reservations because the job requirements focused on marketing. Still, King felt her skills were a match. She applied and was offered the position immediately following an interview with the company.
Today, King manages the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr accounts for one of ICED Media’s clients, a publicly traded restaurant that has more than 500 locations in the Northeast. For about an hour, three times a day, she interacts with customers about their experience with the restaurant, seeks out videos posted about the restaurant, and checks and responds to new postings. Every week, she reports each site’s activity to ICED Media and offers suggestions on how the restaurant can better interact with customers. Already King has increased the restaurant’s Twitter following from approximately 70 to nearly 1,500 followers. “Social media wasn’t something I was doing for very long before this job,” King reflects. “The learning curve is so sharp that I already feel really confident. I’m learning so much so quickly and something new every day.”
What King has quickly realized is that social networking is no longer just an engagement tool for friends and family. Companies are rapidly logging on to social networking sites to further the marketing of their brand and personally connect with consumers. Ford Motor Co., Starbucks, Dell, Home Depot, and Southwest Airlines are just a few employing social media platforms, particularly Twitter.
These jobs can work well for both a corporation’s and a professional’s interests. For employees, it can be financially lucrative with salaries ranging from $57,000 to $79,000. And a report prepared by Wetpaint, a social networking community, and Altimeter Group, an emerging technologies consulting firm, found that companies widely engaged in social networking platforms saw their revenues grow by 18%. Generally, these firms have a dedicated team focused on social media.
“It’s so important for companies to get involved,” notes Gwen Peake, global digital communications manager at Ford Motor Co., which uses only employees and agency personnel for its social media presence. “With social media, consumers can pose questions and comments in real time—it’s really about building relationships and trust between companies and their consumers, including potential consumers.”
But the world of social media does have its challenges. Because it’s such a personal exchange of information, King admits that there is sometimes a tug-of-war between representing the company and infusing her own views. “I have to find this really fine line,” she says. “I’m working for the client but I’m me also.”