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Emerging Occupations

Social Media Specialist

In general, social media specialists create and manage an organization's public profile on social networking websites and use interactive technology (for example, blogging, podcasts) to build online communities.

This is an emerging occupation. It may have evolved from an existing occupation or emerged in response to consumer needs or technological advances.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
NOC & Interest Codes
The Social Media Specialist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Professional Occupations in Public Relations and Communications
NOC code: 5124

Interest in co-ordinating information to prepare and oversee preparation of reports, briefs, bibliographies, speeches, presentations, Web sites and press releases, and to develop and organize workshops, meetings, ceremonies and other events for publicity, fund-raising and information purposes


Interest in gathering, researching and preparing communications material for internal and external audiences, and in assisting in the preparation of brochures, reports, newsletters and other material


Interest in persuading to initiate and maintain contact with the media, and to arrange interviews and news conferences; and in co-ordinating special publicity events and promotions to internal and external audiences

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 19, 2016

Social media specialist is an emerging occupation within the field of public relations. Social media specialists market their organizations on the web and use a variety of tools and strategies to create a targeted, well-branded online presence for the organization. In general, social media specialists:

  • manage the organization's presence on social networking sites (for example, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, blogs, forums)
  • monitor social media sites for potential issues that could affect the organization
  • identify opportunities to engage stakeholders in conversations designed to solicit opinions, stimulate debates, clarify facts and other activities aimed at increasing transparency
  • develop and execute strategic marketing and communication plans to build active and sustainable online communities for the organization
  • use a wide variety of social media tools (for example, blogging, social bookmarking, tagging) to create and maintain an online presence
  • conduct public opinion and attitude surveys online to identify the interests and concerns of key groups served by the organization
  • identify key performance indicators, evaluate the effectiveness of social media events or campaigns and report results to senior managers
  • create, execute and monitor social media campaigns
  • write editorials and promotional material and create content for various social media channels
  • train and advise staff on the use of social media channels
  • audit current use of social media channels for effectiveness and return on investment (ROI)
  • develop social media guidelines for the organization
  • manage online discussion forums and respond to web inquiries from the public
  • maintain awareness of social technology and related trends.

More senior or advanced social media specialists also may work closely with the organization's information technology staff to:

  • define and implement search engine optimization strategies to maximize the organization's search ranking
  • update the organization's website
  • identify and train appropriate staff to respond to specific inquiries from the public through social media channels (for example, services, strategic communication, crisis management).
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Social media specialists spend most of their working time in offices using computers. They generally work on several projects at a time, and meeting project deadlines may require working overtime. Travel may be required to attend meetings and give presentations. Some social media specialists, particularly in the private sector, may be required to monitor social media platforms outside of regular office hours, such as in the evenings and on weekends.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Social media specialists need the following characteristics:

  • creativity
  • initiative
  • good oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills including, good consultation, training and negotiation skills
  • the ability to analyze problems and find practical solutions
  • the ability to deal with ambiguity
  • excellent organizational and time management skills
  • a desire to keep up with changing technology.

They should enjoy:

  • co-ordinating information and finding innovative ways to handle problems
  • taking a methodical approach to gathering, researching and editing information
  • persuading and influencing people.
Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Most emerging occupations develop from more than 1 occupation and therefore social media specialists may come from a variety of education and training backgrounds. Prior to enrolling in an education program, prospective students should contact associations and employers in this field to investigate education options and employment possibilities.

Employers generally prefer to hire applicants who have a bachelor's degree in marketing, information technology, journalism, public relations or communications plus demonstrated experience using:

  • social networks within an organizational and personal context
  • online community building techniques
  • RSS feeds (Rich Site Summary, a format for delivering regularly changing web content), website coding languages, Flash, forums and blogs
  • website content management systems
  • search engine optimization and social media optimization tools.

For more information about:

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Emerging occupations typically are the result of:

  • an increased human need (for example, new services)
  • technological advances
  • greater specialization within an occupation.

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, it can be difficult to define advancement opportunities or employment outlook. Some Albertans already are working in this emerging occupation, but future demand for social media specialists is unknown.

Social media specialists work for large organizations, such as:

  • international not-for-profit organizations
  • large corporations
  • governments
  • post-secondary schools.

In smaller organizations maintaining the company's online profile may be the responsibility of the marketing or public relations staff, a webmaster or a senior manager.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Often there are too few people working in an emerging occupation to gather survey information. Therefore, no current salary data is available for this occupation.

Social media specialists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 1123: Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations.

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations occupational group earned on average from $33.71 to $45.43 an hour. The overall average wage was $38.73 an hour. For more information, see the Professional occupations in advertising, marketing and public relations wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Fine Arts
  • English Language Arts
  • Languages (other than English)
  • Social Studies
  • Business, Administration, Finance and IT
    • Management and Marketing
  • Media, Design and Communication Arts
    • Communication Technology
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Communications
  • Computer and Information Technology
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) website:

International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 24, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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