Thinking about getting into a career in social media? Here’s what you need to know.
We sat down and chatted with Sam Massey who’s the Social Media Lead here at Student Beans about a typical day at work and where her career has taken her so far.
Did you go to uni? If yes, what did you study and if no what did you do instead?
I did! I went to Leeds Met (Beckett nowadays) and studied Journalism. I wanted to pick a course that was creative but still well-rounded. It was a great mixture of practical and written work. It also gave me lots of transferrable skills, which was super helpful as I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to do after uni (like a lot of people!)
How did you get into doing social media as a job? What previous jobs did you have before working at Student Beans?
When I was studying, a career in social media wasn’t really a career path at that point…obviously that’s changed drastically now. So I first started out in PR, I tried that out for about a year, and realised it wasn’t quite for me.
Then I spotted a vacancy for a social media internship at boohoo and applied straight away. Long story short, I stayed there for 2 years as a brand and social assistant, then moved on to do social at JD Sports, Beauty Bay, and most recently Missguided before joining Student Beans.
What does a social media lead actually do on a typical day?
My role involves overseeing and leading the over-arching direction we want to take all of our social channels in. We have specialists in each of the channels, who are all brilliant at what they do.
My job is to make sure we’re all aligned, and that we’re constantly innovating and trying new things to take our social to the next level. There isn’t really a ‘typical day’ I would say.
One day it could be planning a new strategy for one of the channels, another day it could be speaking with account managers about opportunities with the brands we work with, and another it could be brainstorms with the social and content team to plan upcoming activity. There’s so much variety which I love!
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I would say the amount of freedom we have to experiment. One thing that I love about Student Beans and the direction we’re going in, is that we’re being empowered to take more risks on social.
Whether that’s a funny, sarcastic reply when we’re doing community management, or speaking on the latest government announcements. Back in the day, there was an element of not wanting to rock the boat if you were a brand on social.
Nowadays, Gen-Z are looking for brands to be more outspoken and take a stance, which makes the job so much more enjoyable and exciting. Things would be pretty boring if we played it safe and were really passive all of the time!
What would surprise people the most about working in social media?
I’d say the amount of reporting involved. I think a lot of people presume before working in social that it’s a purely a creative role â€” which it is, but there’s also a significant element of reporting alongside that.
I would say it’s 60% creative, and 40% analytics/data. You’ve got to be able to balance both.
What’s the coolest opportunity you’ve had so far in your career?
When I was at JD Sports, we worked with Adidas on a FW17 campaign that involved some really cool people. It spanned across a few days in London, and one of the best moments was when we went around London on an Adidas wrapped double decker bus with Stormzy and some of his biggest fans whilst he performed.
I was on the bus capturing content for JD’s social channels and it was such an amazing day. There was also a catwalk that was directed by Hailey Bieber which I got to attend and get behind the scenes content for. I felt so lucky to be a part of the whole experience.
Where do you see your career taking you in the next 5 years? What’s the progression like working in social media?
It’s quite hard to say… I think in the last 3 years things have changed so much in the world of social and digital marketing (look at TikTok and the Metaverse).
By that point there may be new jobs in social that don’t currently exist right now. I think for me, I potentially see myself moving more into a brand role that encompasses other creative aspects as well as social media.
I’ve always been really creative, so I’d say that probably feels like it will be the natural next step for me eventually.
What’s your advice for students who want to get into a career in social media after they graduate?
I would say just immerse yourself in the industry as much as you can. By that I mean not just looking at brands that you personally use or shop with and what they’re doing on social, but keeping tabs on brands that are creating innovative content â€” regardless of whether you use their services.
A lot of the time that’s where you’ll get the best inspiration. A really good example would be someone like Specsavers â€” I personally don’t use them, but I can appreciate how good their Twitter strategy is.
Is there anything else you think we should know about pursuing a career in social media?
I’d probably say to just remember that it’s not a typical 9-5 job. If you think about social media and how you use it yourself, you’re not active during those hours exclusively.
You need to be present when your audience is. But if you like flexible working and you’re passionate about the industry, then it shouldn’t phase you.
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