A social media manager is a marketing and communications role that is in charge of an organization’s social media accounts. They may write and publish social media posts themself, or they may oversee a team of content creators and provide guidance on overall strategy. We’ve outlined 8 actionable steps that you can take to become a social media manager. We’ll dive into each step in detail further on but, to summarize, they are as follows:
A social media manager manages social media accounts for an organization. LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok are all examples of social media platforms that they could use.
The scope of this job varies depending on the specifics of the role. In some cases, the social media manager is in charge of creating and posting content. In other cases, there may be a content team that creates content (images, videos, and short text snippets) for the social media manager to post and monitor. The social media manager may be in charge of outlining a social strategy and creating campaigns, or they may manage accounts according to a strategy laid out by someone else.
Some social media managers work for a single company as part of the company’s communications and marketing division. Others may work freelance, managing accounts for a whole portfolio of different companies. A third route is to work at a digital marketing agency that manages social media for a portfolio of clients.
An adjacent career to social media management is social media marketing. A social media marketer manages paid advertising that a brand runs on social media. This role must deal more closely with budgeting and ROI as well as in-depth audience analysis. While a social media manager must make decisions about what kind of content to post, how, and when, a social media marketer must figure out how to spend their advertising budget most effectively. This means choosing which ads to spend more, thinking about audience targets, and testing new ads.
In contrast to paid marketing managed by social media marketers, the work done by social media managers is called “organic” marketing, meaning that they acquire followers and engagement organically, without paying for them.
Social media managers should have a toolkit of both hard and soft skills. They need to know how to work with a variety of different platforms and how to optimize content for each one. They need to be technically savvy because social media platforms release frequent updates that users must adapt to.
Social media managers also need to have a great understanding of their product and their audience. They need to know their customers well enough to communicate with them effectively and they need to know their brand well enough to promote it effectively.
Below are qualifications of a successful social media manager:
Advanced education is not necessary to be a social media manager, however candidates with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, design, business, or a related field will have an edge in the hiring process. Other educational paths you can take to become a great candidate for a social media manager role include certificates offered by the platforms themselves (like Facebook and LinkedIn certifications) and digital marketing bootcamps.
It is possible to become a social media manager very quickly. As with any career, the job hunt does take time, so expect to spend anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months applying to and interviewing for roles. However, since this can be an entry-level position, it should take less than one year to become a social media manager. If you find that it’s taking a long time to land a job, try taking more online courses or signing up for a bootcamp.
Jobs for social media managers are abundant – as of this writing, Glassdoor lists 30,000 open positions across the U.S. The future is looking bright too – this role made the CNNMoney/Payscale list of Top #100 jobs for future growth, pay, and satisfaction. As more and more companies realize the value in reaching customers via social media, more social media managers are sought after to lead these efforts. Furthermore, the more companies jump on this trend, the more advanced other competitors’ need to make their social media strategies. In the corporate world, it is no longer enough to have an intern shoot out a social post every couple of weeks if the goal is to build a strong social media presence. Now, more than ever, skilled, professional social media managers are in high demand.
Many social media managers love that they have the opportunity to work freelance. As a freelance social media manager, you get to set your own hours and make personal choices about which brands you work with. It is also up to you how many accounts you feel that you can manage. When your bandwidth is feeling full, you can always pause on taking new clients while you adjust.
Others social media managers love the camaraderie and excitement of working for a digital agency. In an agency you’ll have less choice over which brands you manage accounts for but you have a whole team of coworkers who can help you plan strategy and brainstorm ideas. There is also more stability in an agency job since your income is based on a set salary rather than fluctuating with the number of clients you have.
A third option for social media managers is to work for one brand as an in-house social media manager. The great thing about this position is that you get more of a role in shaping the brand’s voice. You also get to know your brand very intimately since you only work with one, rather than a full portfolio of clients.
The average yearly salary for a social media manager in the United States is $55,000. This salary varies quite a lot depending on the specifics of the role – how many accounts you manage, whether you work freelance or full-time, and your level of experience. Interestingly enough, the salary for social media managers does not vary greatly by location as tends to be the case in other industries. Part of the reason for this is that social media managers can very easily work remotely (and did so even before the covid-19 pandemic).
Below we’ve broken down the average social media manager salary by years of experience using data from Glassdoor. Notice that there is a marked difference in salary between an entry-level social media manager and a highly-experienced one. This is a job that you can continue to grow in for years and constantly advance your skills.
|Years of Experience||Average Social Media Manager Salary|
You can browse our guide to digital marketing bootcamps to find one that best suits your needs. Not set on a career as a social media manager? We’ve got a whole list of other tech careers that you might find interesting. And in the meantime, check out our resource center for more career planning advice!
Below we have included a list of digital marketing bootcamps that can help kickstart a career in social media management.