Gary Charles at G Social Media talks about his career as a Social Media Consultant.  You can find him and his business at www.gsocialmedia.com and on his Twitter feed in the sidebar of this interview.  

What do you do for a living?

We create, establish and implement media for companies through effective online business development. We build strategies and campaigns that consistently encompass the many arms of Internet Marketing, much through social media and networking.Gary Charles

How would you describe what you do?

We evaluate each business individually, study what they currently have in place, and build a map on how to develop a strong media presence online, create a community around them, and then plan for business growth, sales, etc.

What does your work entail?

There are many factors to consider when building an online strategy. One of them is making sure the offline is consistent with the whole plan. Branding, logo and website design is a key area that we focus on, along with quality web development. This all comes into play when building a social organization. We also do everything from setting up social media and networking platforms, building & developing content for these sites, and then putting a sm management plan in place to have fresh content periodically posted. We build targeted online audiences and build sincere relations with them. We have our offering and they may have services they offer as well.

What’s a typical work week like?

Social Media is a 24/7/365 job. There is no 9-5 in this world. When it comes to content building, we can do that anytime. When it comes to audience building, that happens day and night. When it comes to interaction and communication, it happens at any moment, except when we are sleeping or in a meeting that needs our full attention. It also depends on the client. Some need and want weekly or monthly monitoring, others every hour, and then others need immediate attention at any given moment.

How did you get started?

We got started years ago with website design/development and SEO marketing. It then evolved to newsletters and social networking. And then social media of course. We kept our company on the pulse of any new change, minor or not, and planned with effective action accordingly.

What do you like about what you do?

I am a people person. I love people and by nature I am sociable. I make connections face to face just as easy as I do online. The online platforms simply gave me and my team the chance to grow our worlds quicker and easier. The next thing I love is that I know it works. We do not just do social media, we do successful social media and networking. We build sincere, quality win-win relations for both parties, the company and the consumer.

What do you dislike?

When social media and networking started taking over the online marketing industry, many businesses were taken advantage of by people that did not really know social media, but played off of the hype. When a company knows 5% about social media, any wannabee social media “expert” with 10% knowledge can come in and seem like the answer to all of their prayers. Most of the time this is not the case, the company puts in thousands of dollars, they end up without any true results, and then become strongly disillusioned. We have to come in and play “Cleaner” sometimes which means revamping their existing media, or building it from scratch again. This also involves one on one counseling on how to confirm portfolios and references on any future hiring.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

We have branding, website, and media packages available, but 99% of the time they are customized to fit exactly what the client needs. We do hourly, weekly and monthly contracts as well; depending on the budget the client has available.

How much money do Social Media Consultants make?

Social Media Consultants and Workers can make anywhere from minimum wage working for a company as a worker, to minimum wage working for yourself (I have been there lol), and to $50 – $200 an hour as a consultant if the true value is there. If you are looking for a yearly position with a company, social media consultants and workers can make $25k – $75k – $150k a year with a company if they (the company and worker) are both serious. In-house hourly and In-house freelance can be a huge pay difference as well. Where you live in and the economy of the area is also a factor. It really depends on what you can do, how effective it is, what online permanence you are creating for the business, and how you report results (ROI) to the client.

How much money did/do you make starting out? 

I made $0 starting out as social media was the “new” thing on the scene and I had to build up my portfolio of case studies, accomplishments and success stories. If you are working for a company that does not understand online media, they will want to pay you $50 a month for a lot of work. If you are working freelance, you will want to establish an introductory rate to introduce your work, and then a contract rate. Even if it is something like $100 or $200 a month, have your hourly rate set, keep track of your time, have scheduled hours of time, plan and do good work, make sure you do great reporting, and grow this client to more funding when they see the awesome things you are doing for their company. Also use this work as a case study to show other potential clients. If you are looking for a permanent position with a company, it may be $10 – $25 an hour starting; again depending on where you are, NYC or Asheville NC.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

My degree is in Psychology and Theology, but sincere person to person skills are key to this social media and networking industry. This is not an act. These are real life people and businesses that demand real results. Of course a marketing degree will greatly help you, and any one of us, but if all you are is a “marketer,” your audience will be very slim. And teachers and professors that do not know the new media world cannot teach it; so the students of today are greatly lacking in this area. I say put those great people skills together with online media platform awareness and experience, and you are well on your way. There are not many Colleges and Universities that have any staff members that can even attempt to keep up with the ever evolving changes in the social media world. Real life practicum comes hard into play in the new media world.

What is most challenging about what you do?

The most challenging part of social media and networking is the educational part. Not necessarily the part where we learn, as content curation keeps us up to date on the moment and on any topic we could imagine; but the challenge is more of educating people and businesses about the media transition that happened over the past few years. Some business owners still think they are getting a great deal for that TV commercial, Radio ad and even Print ad; but us in the new media world know those conduits have lost much of their value and they are simply gasping for breath. Education and awareness is the most challenging part of our business.

What is most rewarding?

Seeing a business get their strong, consistent presence online, helping them learn how to manage or co-manage it, and then seeing the success that comes offline from the hard, strategic work we have done for them online. Helping people and businesses is a big priority for our company. If it does not work for their company, we would not do it.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Educate yourself every moment, develop face to face skills with people that you can mirror online, practice and show success on your own brand before working on a clients brand, sincerely care for your customers and their customers as well, and make as many friends as possible! People do better business with their sincere social friends. If you are my Facebook friend or Twitter follower, you are closer to me than a stranger. This is a nice starting point for a potentially great relationship whether business or personal.

How much time off do you get/take?

We can work mobile for the most part, so we can take our work anywhere. Vacations still have responsibility even if you have a team to cover you. As far as being “disconnected” as some say; I know of no such thing 🙂 Of course if I wanted to I could be, but why? Again, I love people and what I do for a living!!

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

That social media work is easy. A potential client told me that their teenage daughter was going to do what I offered to do. I laughed, walked away, and never looked back. Social media for business is not a pastime. Yes, your son in College knows how to make a Twitter account, but so does my 6 year old. Will either of these work great for your business? No! Another misconception is that we are “playing” or “texting” on our mobile devices. Our team does not play mobile games, so if you see us on our smartphones, we are working, tweeting, fbing etc. Sometimes people send us an instant message on Facebook asking “what are you doing?” and we quickly respond “working!” And as far as texting is concerned, we have closed more deals in the past year via texting than email.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

To be a part of taking the media world to the next level. Our team wants a moment. We want to make communications and connections easier for the whole world, maybe leading humanity to a higher level of education, understanding, peace and prosperity.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

Our rule is “Work harder and smarter,” both are important. This niche career is so much bigger than any one of us. Open up to others. Build a supportive and constructive team in your local community, statewide, nationwide, and worldwide. Invent or re-invent yourself with better, improved people skills; make connections, and build friendships. Make yourself and your media social!