How to Become a Social Media Manager

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:

  1. Find out which platforms you will be managing in and train-up on those.
  2. Become an expert in the brand.
  3. Learn about social media management tools.
  4. Hone your writing skills.
  5. Learn PhotoShop (or another design tool).
  6. Add data analytics to your skill set.
  7. Try a digital marketing course or bootcamp.
  8. Make your own social media account!


Job Description for a Social Media Manager

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.

How to become a social media manager

Social Media Manager vs Social Media Marketer

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.

Qualifications for a Social Media Manager

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:

  • Have an in-depth understanding of different platforms and how to use them. Popular platforms to learn are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Snapchat.
  • Be up-to-date with social media trends and trends within your brand’s industry.
  • Be a clear communicator and good writer.
  • Be able to gather performance data and use it to inform strategic decisions.
  • Have an excellent understanding of branding.


Social Media Manager Education Requirements

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.


How Long does it Take to Become a Social Media Manager?

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.

Steps to Become a Social Media Manager

  1. Find out which platforms you will be managing in and train-up on those. Managing LinkedIn accounts is quite different from managing TikTok. You can learn fundamentals that can be applied across social channels but each channel also has its own unique processes, user bases, word-limits, formatting, and functionality. Choose one to start learning and you can progress from there!


  1. Become an expert in the brand. Before interviewing for a role as a social media manager, learn everything you can about the brand that you hope to represent. Try to get a feel for the brand’s voice and its audience. Can you describe it with ten adjectives? Is it professional or casual? Futuristic or nostalgic? Mature or youthful?


  1. Learn about social media management tools. Once you’ve got the platforms down, it’s time to go one step further. Social media management tools like Sprout Social and Hootsuite can be used to plan out social posts months in advance, which is great for long-term strategy. They can also be a single-login hub for multiple channels, allowing you to post to multiple platforms at once.


  1. Hone your writing skills. Even if you’re not writing essays or comprehensive journal articles, it is still important to have excellent writing skills as a social media manager. A great writer knows just the wording to use to convey a particular tone and to resonate with a particular audience. Writing is a tricky skill to learn but there are online short courses that teach it. A course with a live instructor is the most likely to be beneficial since concepts like tone and style can be hard to convey otherwise.


  1. Learn PhotoShop (or another design tool). Other popular tools for image editing include Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Canva. Whether you manage accounts on an image-based platform like Instagram or a more text-focused one like LinkedIn, eye-catching images give your posts a huge boost. Social media is extremely competitive and a great visual element can give your content an edge over the rest.


  1. Add data analytics to your skill set. Social media managers use KPIs (key performance indicators) to show clients how their posts are making an impact. They may leverage metrics like follower growth, engagement rate, and reach. Being great at handling data allows social media managers to easily compute these metrics and share their findings with clients. There are a number of online courses and bootcamps you can take to expand your data analytics skills. Browse our Data Analytics overview page to find out more about this type of bootcamp.


  1. Try a digital marketing course or bootcamp. If you want to learn all of the relevant social media skills along with an extensive set of related digital tools, try a digital marketing bootcamp. This is a great option if you’d like to eventually expand your career beyond social media and become a digital strategist or marketing executive. You can browse digital marketing bootcamps here.


  1. Make your own social media account! You probably already have at least one personal social media account where you connect with people you know and have the option to post personal updates. To learn how to cultivate a brand, try creating an account about something that you’re passionate about. It could be a type of food you love, a hobby you’re pursuing, a type of product you like – anything! Use this account to get hands-on experience creating content, building followers, and monitoring growth. When you go on to interview for a role as a professional social media manager, you can talk about your experiences and list your accounts on your resume.

Explore schools offering Social Media Manager Bootcamps.

Job Outlook for a Social Media Manager

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.


Best jobs for Social Media Managers

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.

Salary Expectations for a Social Media Manager

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 ExperienceAverage 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.

Browse bootcamps for Social Media Managers.

Explore some of the top schools offering Social Media Manager bootcamps and find the right fit for your needs and schedule.