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Social media marketer: Not Your Everyday Job series

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Sam Ball ProfileName: Sam Ball

Age: 18

Job Title: Social media marketer (via Twitter)

Time In Occupation: 16 months

First Job: Social media marketer (via Twitter)

Education: Durham University, Accounting and Finance (first year)

Chloe: Social media marketing isn’t the everyday job, especially for an undergraduate student. What exactly do you do day-to-day in this role?

Sam: Well, I log into my Twitter account, and then my MyLikes account (a website that allows you to choose any advert and post it from a social media platform of your choice). So, I have a scroll through adverts by category and choose the one that most caters to my followers and will build the most traffic as I get paid per click. Once that’s been posted you’re paid for each one of your followers that clicks on it assuming they meet the required criteria discussed. Then, I can add to my earnings by exchanging Twitter ‘retweets’ with other large accounts.

Chloe: Well, that sounds easy. Why can’t anyone with a social media account do what you do?

Sam: True, it is all very simple. With 197k followers under my belt it’s fairly easy ‘work’ for me, but obviously the average social networker usually won’t have that many followers. Additionally, sometimes you only get paid for clicks coming from certain locations or countries or from certain devices. It’s also not as lucrative now as it used to be, because earnings per click are much lower and adverts are becoming more geographically-specific. A lot of adverts that used to allow for worldwide clicks are now restricted to users from the UK or US, for example.

Chloe: Okay, so it’s not as simple as it initially seems. At your peak of success, before making money from social media marketing was so difficult, how easy was it get success out of? 

Sam: It was much easier in around January 2013 where I could post one advert and without doing any work could earn between five and ten pounds. Then, with a couple of hours of added effort from sharing retweets as discussed earlier, it could go up to as much as £100 per tweet, which was crazy! I also know one guy who made £500 in a weekend from a few posts. There’s no way I should have been able to make that money because the traffic I was sending my followers was complete junk that you would never normally click on. Yet, given that the majority of my followers are teenage girls who never intended to stay on the website for long when they clicked on the link, and were almost certainly never going to buy or subscribe to anything on there, it was pretty much free money in my pocket.

Chloe: Wow. At that point in time it was definitely worth the minimal effort of posting for such a return. How did you end up becoming a social media marketer?

Sam: Well, I was already doing lots of exchanged retweets with other people to increase our respective number of followers. Then those guys told me about how they were making £150 a weekend from not doing much at all and I heard stories like, “Ollie’s buying himself a new iPhone with this week’s money”. I found out the details of the website and had a look around but was still really sceptical. My dad agreed that it seemed too good to be true – but it wasn’t. I set up an account and started doing it immediately. All I needed was a Twitter and a PayPal account. £100 a post without any CVs, cover letters or references.

Chloe: Normally I would ask if you always wanted to be in the job you’re in, but yours is just so atypical to any other. Obviously social media wasn’t what it is today when you were growing up, so would it be right to say that you fell into social media marketing rather than having aspirations to go into it?

Sam: Exactly, I didn’t even realise how easy it was until a week before starting so it wasn’t a lifelong career aspiration that I found myself fulfilling. In fact, when I was younger I didn’t have a clear-cut career ambition; I just wanted to make lots of money. Winning the lottery would’ve been my ideal path.

Chloe: With what you have said about this path no longer being lucrative, it doesn’t seem like a viable, stable career option. What are your plans for the future, any more unusual jobs in the pipeline?

Sam: That seems very unlikely to be honest. After graduating I just want a safe, recession-proof job probably in the form of accounting. It’s boring but it’s good for me.

Chloe: Finally, what piece of career advice would you give to other students?

Sam: Don’t do something like social media marketing as your sole career plan because you could log in one day and find that your entire source of income has gone, perhaps due to a new change in policy, or something else totally out of your control. What I’ve done is great to do alongside a degree for extra money, but not for a sustainable career.

Photo: photologue_np / Flickr

Chloe WynneSocial media marketer: Not Your Everyday Job series

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