What Social Media Managers Do
Social media managers are responsible for overseeing an organization’s social media footprint. They research which sites brands should be on and create optimized profiles. They’ll often work with the organization’s marketing, digital marketing, and sales departments to identify which campaigns they’re running and will integrate similar messages and branding across social media channels too.
To encourage greater loyalty among consumers and keep fanbases engaged, social media managers will create calendars to support marketing efforts, which typically contain a mixture of original content, curated (recycled/ reshared) content, promotions, contests, and paid advertisements. They may oversee the work of content creators, graphic designers, customer support reps, and other auxiliary team members as well.
Large organizations may have a single social media manager or have one dedicated to each channel, whereas smaller organizations may have the social media manager cover a wider range of activities, including content creation or other digital marketing duties.
Who would enjoy a career in Social Media Management?
Social media management can be a good career choice for someone who has a natural flair for leadership and networking because the ultimate goal is to keep people engaged with the brand one represents. However, good social media managers can’t rely on intuition alone. Most use a variety of tools to help identify what types of content are trending, which topics people are engaging with, to schedule posts, and to measure success.
Social media managers should also be highly organized and able to plan ahead, plus be constantly on the lookout for new trends and topics. Because they often work with other departments, it’s important for social media managers to be effective communicators and understand the needs of the organization as well as how social media plays into its overall marketing strategy. Having a background in digital marketing is beneficial too, as professionals will need to understand SEO, advertising, and content marketing.
Who mightn't like the career?
It’s challenging to find a full-time in-house social media management position because only large corporations tend to have the positions. It’s possible to work in-house for a smaller organization, but only a few hours per week may be available. Because of this, many professionals in this field work for several companies, work for a marketing agency which covers several clients, or they offer their services as a contractor.
It’s also worth noting that professional social media managers do have hard goals and objectives that must be met, often with deliverables such as a specific percent of engagement increase or increase in followers. Those who get into the field expecting it to be entirely a fun adventure may become disenchanted quickly when they realize strategy, processes, and deliverables are involved.
It’s possible to get into social media management without a formal degree, provided the individual has the necessary skills for the job, such as computer literacy, excellent writing skills, and comfort with various forms of software and social networks, as well as a proven track record. Certifications and niche-specific coursework may also prove beneficial. However, most employers now look for a bachelor’s degree in a concentration like communications, journalism, or marketing.
Job hopefuls will typically be asked a variety of questions to test their hard and soft skills. It’s also common for interviewers to ask unusual or uncommon questions to see how the candidate responds when under stress or needs to respond quickly, as this is the very nature of social media. In addition to this, individuals may be asked about prior social media accomplishments relating to the position, such as followers acquired or the impact of campaigns they’ve worked on, as well as about things that will identify whether the candidate is a good fit for the culture of the company and its branding.
Moving into Social Media Management from another career
There are many ways people can transition into a career as a social media manager. For example, someone who has built his or her own social media following and can demonstrate to an employer how he or she did it might be able to land a job. It’s often touted as a nice career move for moms who took time off to be home with children, though most will start in some sort of content creation type role, such as blogger or post writer.
Advertising creatives, such as content writers and graphic designers, can usually transition into it with relative ease as well. Others who are naturally good on social media may move into a career if they take courses to learn how to make data-driven decisions and use special tools. For further reading, see “Social Media as a Second Career for Moms.”
Entry-Level Social Media Position
Role: Most people begin in an entry-level position related to social media. Interns (often unpaid) may work on a wide variety of projects under the guidance of a marketing manager, digital marketing manager, or social media manager. Others may start in paid positions, such as community managers, who are responsible for interacting with the community and moderating and social media coordinators/ specialists, who are responsible for creating and distributing content.
Social Media Manager
Role: In a traditional social media manager role, job duties tend to focus on monitoring analytics and creating strategies, as well as coordinating efforts with other departments. The social media manager doesn’t usually handle content creation or posting, but instead is responsible for overseeing the employees who do. However, in smaller companies, the social media manager may perform all the duties involved.
Role: Marketing directors generally oversee all aspects of marketing, including digital, print, media, or any other medium the company uses. They often come up with the overall concepts the marketing teams use in their campaigns, and work to ensure a cohesive branding effort is made. It’s also the director’s job to set budgets for marketing, measure ROI, handle all business planning as it relates to marketing, and oversee all staff below him or her.
Vice President of Marketing
Role: Vice presidents are high-level executives who work even more strategically. They naturally oversee all aspects of marketing, but their core focus is on understanding consumer behavior, expectations, and ensuring that the marketing messages speak to both. They may conduct market research, observe trends, and help frame the general feel of the brand or products, covering everything from pricing to packaging.
Social media managers rarely travel for work, though their skills enable them to work almost anywhere they choose. The career is indeed transportable to many other countries, given the global audiences of many social media platforms.
Social Media Coordinator: According to PayScale, social media coordinators earn an average of USD$36,000 per year in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the average is £20,000, whereas salaries are CAD$35,000 and AU$50,000 in Canada and Australia, respectively.
Social Media Marketing Manager: USD$49,000, £25,000, CAD$45,000, AU$59,000
Marketing Director: USD$83,000, £68,073, CAD$85,300, AU$144,926
VP of Marketing: USD $138,620, £92,817, CAD$124,413, AU$161,500
Profit sharing, commission, and bonuses can sometimes increase the pay of social media professionals by 5-10%.
Why Social Media Managers move on
Social media managers earn less than their counterparts who cover more generalized aspects of digital marketing, and many companies still overlook the value social media professionals bring to the table, so getting raises and promotions can be challenging too. Most people who leave a career in social media management stay within the realm of digital marketing because the skills gained don’t readily transfer outside it.