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Social media marketing vs. marketing & communications: which stream should I choose?

By Ana Isabel Alonsagay | 11 June 2020


Problem-solving. Social presence. Human connection. Elements that arguably comprise the core of the marketing industry – a field in Australia that’s only grown and evolved alongside digital trends in recent years. 

Blooming tech developments have spurred the need for specialised skills in the online sphere; with the rise of roles in digital marketing, social media management, content creation, and the like. According to the Hays Salary Guide, 43% of Australian employers intend to increase their permanent marketing staff in the current financial year.

The industry thus holds much career opportunity for those looking to apply their skills in research, online content, and communication. 

SkillsTalk explore two popular educational streams in marketing: social media marketing and marketing and communications, and which may suit your career goals and interests best in the field. 

Overview: Social media marketing

social media concept

Those pursuing a social media marketing stream can look forward to courses that centre on the modern world of communication – and the technology that upholds it. 

Students will learn to navigate a variety of social media networks; including leading industry giants such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. This stream, however, also typically dives deep into the fundamental strategies and tactics of the marketing profession, and how one may apply these to the dynamic, fast-paced and online environment of social media. 

Such base competencies can include managing budgets and plans, e-mail marketing, and successfully establishing strong personal brands. Analytical and research skills are also commonly explored, such as interpreting market trends, keeping track of field developments, and setting gauges for campaign effectiveness. 

Of course, these all tie into the optimisation of social media, with courses that may focus on creating blog content and strategising on specific mainstream social platforms. As stated by former Upskilled student, Marianne Mentis (who completed Upskilled’s 10118NAT -  Diploma of Social Media Marketing), getting qualified in social media strategy can help one understand the complexities of social media algorithms, SEO, user behaviour, and building a successful brand online. 

Those pursuing this stream can thus equip themselves with both the theoretical knowledge and managerial skills required to effectively lead online marketing campaigns and operations in a business context. The program may be best suited for those looking to expand on their business or traditional marketing skills; or are seeking a career in the digital marketing industry. 

Job outcomes

Those who graduate from a social media marketing stream will be well-equipped to pursue roles such as a digital marketing strategist, social media specialist and social media manager. 

Digital marketing strategists assist their clients in the methods of using online tools to grow and nurture their online presence. They know how to optimise a wide range of social media assets, and take care in adhering to industry best practices and regulations. 

Social media specialists (similar to “social media strategists”, though they may be referred to as separate positions) concentrate on the use of social networking sites, using these to establish brand image and maintain customer engagement. They may also assist in developing social media campaigns and promotions, analysing metrics and trends, and proposing ways of improving current strategies. 

Those seeking a leadership position in the field can pursue the role of a social media manager; where one oversees all social media marketing operations in a business, with the ability to optimise brand presence across a broad range of platforms and stay updated on the latest trends and technologies.

According to 2020 Payscale statistics, the median Australian salaries for these roles are as follows:
  • Digital marketing strategist: $78,000
  • Social media specialist: $61,000
  • Social media manager: $61,000

Overview: Marketing & communications

marketing concept

On the flipside, those seeking a more “traditional” career in marketing can pursue a marketing and communications stream. 

In contrast to most social media marketing programs, courses in marketing and communications focus on broader skills in the industry – such as areas of research, consumer analysis, and leadership abilities. Those starting out in this stream will learn the fundamentals of communicating and debating ones’ ideas in relation to market trends, product knowledge, and consumer demands or behaviour. 

As such, students can equip themselves with both the practical competencies and theoretical knowledge required to develop, manage, and lead product campaigns in a business.

Course subjects in this stream typically include consumer and market research; methods of product and service promotion; developing, administering, and monitoring marketing projects; and delivering and preparing for business presentations. Such training helps one sharpen their skills in problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity – each of which are considered “transferable” soft skills across most industries. 

Of course, with our ever-digitised business landscape, a marketing and communications stream will also brush upon digital solutions, and ways of integrating online technologies into common marketing and management practice.

Job outcomes 

Students who graduate from marketing and communications can pursue roles such as a marketing officer, public relations officer, and a market research analyst.

Those who veer more into research-driven, analytical work may find success as a market research analyst. These professionals are in charge of collecting, interpreting, and presenting data on market trends, consumer behaviour, and online content strategies. 

Marketing officers, on the other hand, undertake a more managerial position; overseeing and taking part in the development and performance of advertising campaigns and general marketing operations. Much of their role involves keeping track of recent industry trends (and digital advancements), as well as liaising with clients and department heads to understand and meet marketing requirements. 

Lastly – while public relations officers are less focused on the digital and technical aspects of marketing; those with exceptional talents in communication and relationship-building may find a fulfilling career in the field. These professionals work to manage and market the reputation of their business – taking part in brand promotions, event coordination, and liaising with various parties in publicity media. 

According to 2020 Payscale statistics, the median Australian salaries for these roles are as follows:
  • Market research analysts: $59,000
  • Marketing officers: $58,000
  • Public relations officers: $60,000

Looking to kickstart your marketing career?

Those passionate in building creative campaigns, fostering connection and crafting brand presence may just find a rewarding career path in Australia’s marketing industry. 

Whether you consider yourself a social media savant or lean towards more general skills in marketing and public communication, Upskilled offers flexible online courses that can help sharpen your expertise. 

Through a 10118NAT - Diploma of Social Media Marketing or a BSB42415 - Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication, students can equip themselves with the fundamentals to pursue a wide range of marketing roles – with an online focus or otherwise. 

Best of all, each program is delivered 100% online, helping you tailor your studies according to personal needs and schedule. 

Start your educational journey in marketing, and enquire about a course today. 
 
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