June 25, 2024

5 Red Flags of Social Media Work

April Winz

As a public relations senior about to enter (hopefully) the communications workforce, I’ve been spending a lot of my time looking at job listings and hearing about graduates’ experiences. For the most part, I’ve found inspiring things within the world of social media work. But, as a student just entering the workforce, I realized it’s just as important to research the issues within the social media field. So, I went straight to LinkedIn to see what the discourse was among social media professionals and what they’re saying about their work. I found post after post about struggles and decided to sort them into 5 common red flags to look for when working in social media. Here’s what I found:

1. Beware of Job Listing Roles

“Social Media” is a really easy thing for employers to lump into one role and assign to one person. If the job post you’re looking at lists multiple heavy job tasks under one position, keep scrolling. It’s an indicator that the company doesn’t really know what they’re looking for. Comments under the post note that this mindset is also unprofessional and is a good way to end up overworked and underpaid. 

2. Insane Expectations

On a similar note, watch out for insanely high and/or vague expectations. If the job description includes a want to increase their following in a short amount of time or go viral, they aren’t truly grasping what role social media is supposed to play in their company. Instead, they’re chasing virality and unrealistic ideals. Other social media professionals are commenting on these posts with personal experiences of being overworked, misunderstood and asked to perform outside of their scope.

3. Interviews Should Not Include Free Labor

The conversation around companies asking tasks to be performed during job interviews took me to TikTok, where several communications professionals were speaking on the issue. One creator, @workwithalessandra said that she was asked to create a month-long and highly detailed social media content calendar for their specific brand unpaid. She added that “this is how employers steal creative ideas” and that while a small project is normal, a complex assignment that can be stolen and used to benefit their brand directly is not.

4. No Work/Life Balance

While companies should be initiating this, make sure that you know what the work/life balance and expectations are before going into the role. People noted a few things that contribute to this: giving employees a dedicated phone for social media work, a budget for equipment, transportation costs covered or reimbursed and time off where they don’t have to be checking and posting to social accounts. Comments stressed the importance of vacation days where they don’t have to be monitoring accounts and can truly disconnect. 

5. A Lack of Respect for the Role

To close out the list, a red flag that connects all the others: employers who don’t value social media communications and have a lack of respect for the role. This can show up in many different ways (see above items) but also in less noticeable ways. LinkedIn creators noted low salary, not listening to advice and an overall lack of empathy from employers towards those in the field. 

So, as we all embark on our post-college journey, please take these problems into account when searching for jobs. The world of social media work is incredible and can provide a lot of good, but don’t sacrifice yourself and your well-being to do it.

3 thoughts on “5 Red Flags of Social Media Work

  1. Hi April, I found your blog very insightful as many of us are looking for jobs right now post college. Social media platforms are overly saturated with job listings, and it is very important to look for these red flags you talked about. One of the biggest road blocks I found is the experience needed. So many companies are looking for 2-3 years+ in experience when we are all trying to find entry level jobs. Thanks for reminding me to keep looking for red flags in the companies while applying for jobs!

  2. Hi April! I loved this post. The list format made it easy to consume and the images were engaging. This is also highly relevant to us as students, many of whom are going into social media management after school. As a current social media manager, I constantly feel the pressure to get high numbers on a time crunch. Social media performance is out of one person’s control. Success includes so much luck, and good social media jobs should account for that fact.

  3. April, thank you so much for sharing! As I begin to finish up my portfolio and look at applying to jobs, this is very insightful. I have noticed some smaller companies tacking on so many roles for social media jobs. I have also noticed job posting for employers who don’t really know what they’re looking for! I really appreciate this guide!

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