Michael Dadez never imagined his future career as a social media manager when he was working toward his bachelor's degree in computer information systems at Saint Leo University.

At the time, social media was just getting its start. Channels like Friendster, MySpace, Linkedin and Facebook offered a novel way for people to post and share information, pictures and video."I thought it was brilliant," he recalls, "but I never expected a job where businesses would pay people to do their social media for them."Never in my wildest dreams."

Staying Connected 24/7

Eight years after beginning his career as a video conferencing technician and Web coordinator for the university, Dadez landed a job as Saint Leo's online community manager. Today he is responsible for developing and monitoring all the university's social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin and more.

It's a job that keeps him connected 24/7.

"If you're just doing it Monday through Friday, you're probably missing something. Our online students and education center students, for example, work during business hours, so they're on our channels during the weekend."

Social Media as a Strategic Business Tool

Along with his degree in computer information sciences, Dadez says being in the era of social media provided some of the best training for the job. A master's degree in business administration also from Saint Leo University has helped him understand how businesses work, and what businesses are looking for.

"And understanding marketing definitely helps."

Dadez believes an online business degree with a marketing focus is an ideal route for a social marketing position.

"We're constantly trying to market the university. You have to know how to market, how to get images and hashtags out there," he says. "Marketing helps you know the important messages; it helps you understand the steps to get the most views and the greatest return."

Being empathetic, sociable, responsible and flexible also help.

"There has to be a post every day; you're never on vacation," he says. "I try to follow everything; I respond to everyone."

Even when the posts are negative.

"You have to respond and try to get them into a private conversation," Dadez explains, using the example of students who post online that they haven't received their financial aid funding. "Never remove the post," he warns, "it will come back 10 times worse."

Demanding Profession in an Ever-Evolving Field

Among the greatest challenges in his position are keeping up with the constant changes in the social media world and the lack of control.

"Unlike a website we can control, we don't own channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram," he explains. "We can only change what they allow us to change – and even that changes."

Dadez's day typically starts at the computer reviewing emails including new postings and staff and faculty requests for assistance with Facebook pages and other social media initiatives. Next, he posts links to posts on Saint Leo's blog for online learners and other content, such as photos from a departmental social, and promotes the new content on all channels.

A good portion of his day is spent monitoring the university's social media channels – perusing for content and responding to comments and various posts, usually about 20 or 30 each day.

"I've literally never had just one website up on my computer; I usually have at least 14 or 15 tabs open, and multiple pages on each tab," Dadez says, adding that being able to multi-task is a prerequisite for the job.

Be a social media advocate

His advice for someone interested in a social media career?

Brush up on your technical skills. Dadez lists project management, analysis and organization as some of the most important skills for the job.

Along with practice, practice, practice.

"Know how to use everything. Know what you can do on all the sites and how to do it," he says. "Share stories. Have a cell phone, a Facebook, a Twitter account. Be an advocate for social media."

Thinking about a career in social media? How are you preparing for it?

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