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Social Media Manager Career Guide

What is a social media manager?

A social media manager strategizes, implements, and monitors a company’s social media efforts to enhance its online presence, brand awareness, and business goals. Social media platforms are powerful tools to reach and engage with current and potential customers, clients, or audiences. 

Managers use their understanding of social media trends, algorithms, and audience behaviors to create compelling content, foster community engagement, and track performance metrics. The role is involved in shaping a company’s digital identity, making social media managers integral to modern marketing and communication strategies.

Duties and responsibilities

A social media manager’s duties and responsibilities include developing and implementing a comprehensive strategy to increase the company’s web traffic and brand visibility. They manage, create, and publish original, high-quality content on social platforms. Coordination with various departments, such as marketing, PR, and design, ensures that content is informative, appealing, and consistent with the brand’s voice and style.

In addition, these professionals monitor user engagement and suggest content optimization, keeping a pulse on the latest social media trends, tools, applications, and algorithms. Key performance metrics are tracked, analyzed, and reported to gain insights and adjust strategies accordingly. Community management is another central aspect, including responding to audience comments, questions, and concerns to foster a positive user environment and experience.

Work environment

Social media managers work in various sectors, including media, retail, technology, and nonprofit. Office settings are standard, but remote positions are available due to the digital nature of work. Frequent interaction with teams and collaboration with external vendors occurs. Managers must be adaptable, innovative, and proactive in the ever-changing environment.

Typical work hours

The typical work hours for a social media manager usually align with standard office hours, Monday through Friday. However, social media is a 24/7 platform, so managers might need to monitor platforms outside regular working hours. Evening or weekend hours may be required to manage significant events or issues.

How to become a social media manager

This role involves acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge to create, manage, and optimize social media strategies for businesses and organizations. This career guide section covers the steps you’ll need to take to become a social media manager.

Step 1: Obtain a relevant education

While a formal education is only sometimes required to become a social media manager, it can help build a strong marketing, communications, or public relations foundation. A bachelor’s degree may provide the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in this career. 

Step 2: Gain practical experience

Hands-on experience develops the skills needed for success in this role. Seek internships, part-time roles, or freelance opportunities in social media management or digital marketing to familiarize yourself with various social media platforms, content creation, and audience engagement strategies. Consider also enrolling in online courses to learn and build skills.

Here are some great options for aspiring social media managers:

Step 3: Develop expertise in social media platforms

Social media managers must proficiently use various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Create and manage personal accounts to gain practical experience and stay current on platform updates, features, and best practices for optimization.

Step 4: Strengthen your content creation and storytelling skills

Creating compelling content that resonates with the target audience is critical for these professionals. Develop content creation skills by practicing writing, graphic design, photography, or video production. Hone storytelling abilities to engage audiences and convey brand messages effectively.  

Step 5: Obtain professional certifications (optional)

While not required, obtaining relevant professional certifications can demonstrate commitment to the profession and increase your credibility. These certifications can also help you stay current on best practices and emerging trends in the industry. Consider certifications such as the Hootsuite Social Marketing Certification, Facebook Blueprint Certification, or HubSpot Social Media Certification.

How much do social media managers make?

The compensation for a social media manager can vary depending on several factors. Those with marketing, communications, or public relations degrees may have a salary advantage. Experience also plays a significant role, with seasoned managers in a much better salary position. Industries like technology, entertainment, and finance may earn more than those in other sectors. Social media managers in larger urban areas or regions with a high company concentration will likely make more. Lastly, the size of a company and the scope of its social media presence can affect salary.

Highest paying industries

  • Information Technology and Services – $75,000
  • Finance and Insurance – $73,200
  • Advertising and Public Relations – $72,450
  • Entertainment – $70,850
  • Retail Trade – $69,350

Highest paying states

  • New York – $78,500
  • California – $76,200
  • Massachusetts – $74,600
  • Washington – $73,850
  • Illinois – $72,950

Browse social media manager salary data by market

Types of social media managers

The field offers a range of specialties to cater to diverse business requirements and trends. This career guide section will explore the different types of social media managers, shedding light on their unique responsibilities and areas of focus.

Content strategist

Content strategists specialize in creating and overseeing a content strategy, deciding content to post, and when posts occur. The role typically includes working closely with copywriters and designers to produce compelling content.

Community manager

Community managers take on the social aspect of social media, interacting with followers and fans, moderating comments, and fostering a positive community around the brand. They often fulfill a customer service role, answering questions and resolving issues via social media.

Social media analyst

Social media data is necessary since it informs future marketing strategies. Analysts track metrics such as engagement, follower growth, and click-through rates to understand and report on the effectiveness of social media efforts.

Paid social media specialist

Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter offer paid advertising opportunities. Paid specialists are responsible for setting ad budgets, creating and targeting ads to the right audiences, optimizing runtimes and exposure, and measuring the success of campaigns.  

Influencer marketing manager

Influencer managers explore opportunities to partner with influencers for brand promotions, including negotiating contracts and managing ongoing relationships. 

Social media graphic designer

While not typically the primary role of a social media manager, some smaller companies might need social media managers to take on a design role. In this capacity, these professionals also design posts and graphics, ensuring they align with the brand’s visual identity.

Social media copywriter

In smaller teams, a social media manager might also need to write the copy for posts. Written copy must be compelling, concise, fit the brand voice, and comply with each platform’s best practices.

Social listening and reputation manager

Companies often employ managers to monitor social media for mentions of the brand and broader conversations related to the brand. This role includes managing the brand’s online reputation, identifying potential crises, and finding opportunities for engagement.

Top skills for social media managers

An in-depth understanding of different social media platforms is fundamental for social media managers. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and other platforms have unique features, user demographics, and best practices. Managers who understand these nuances can leverage each platform effectively, align strategies with business goals, and reach intended audiences.

Content is king in social media, and effective managers have a flair for creating compelling content that resonates with their audience. This skill extends beyond just writing to include visuals, videos, and infographics. Curation, or finding and sharing relevant content from other sources, helps provide variety and additional value to the audience.

Additionally, these professionals need to measure and analyze the performance of posts and campaigns using tools like Google Analytics or platform-specific insights. This data-driven approach helps to understand what content or strategies are effective, identify areas of improvement, and make informed decisions to optimize efforts.

Effective customer engagement can significantly boost a brand’s online presence and reputation. They foster a sense of community, promptly and appropriately respond to comments and messages, and manage customer service issues. 

With organic reach declining on many social platforms, proficiency in advertising has become a critical skill. Managers should be able to create, run, and optimize ads on various platforms. Understanding targeting, budgeting, A/B testing, and performance analytics is also essential.

Social media manager career path

In social media management, individuals often kickstart their careers in entry-level roles such as social media coordinators or assistants. During this stage, they gain essential hands-on experience by supporting the execution of social media strategies, managing content calendars, and monitoring social media platforms.

With expertise in social media strategies and a solid understanding of various platforms, progression to a social media manager is possible. This role manages and enhances a company’s social media presence, including developing a content strategy, identifying performance indicators, and driving audience engagement.

Following several years of successful results as a manager, individuals may step into a senior social media manager or social media director role. These positions include overseeing the company’s social media strategies and leading a team of professionals. They are significant in decision-making and contribute to the broad digital marketing strategy.

Ultimately, experienced social media professionals can aspire to become chief marketing officers (CMO) or digital marketing directors. These roles require a comprehensive understanding of marketing beyond social media, including overseeing all marketing operations and developing the overall marketing strategy.

Another possible career path is to become a consultant or start a social media management agency. This path requires a combination of social media expertise and entrepreneurship skills.

As businesses increasingly recognize the vital role of social media in their marketing and customer engagement strategies, the role of social media managers has evolved and expanded. The field is fast-paced and constantly changing with the emergence of new social media platforms and shifts in user behavior. 

Managers create engaging content and monitor online conversations, but they also understand data analytics to gauge content effectiveness and stay ahead of trends. Influencer marketing is another area growing in importance, requiring these professionals to identify and collaborate with relevant influencers in their industry. Furthermore, the rise of video content, live streaming, and social commerce offers new channels and strategies for engagement.

Employment projections for social media managers

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not explicitly track growth for the role of social media managers, it does predict job growth in the broader category of advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. This category is projected to grow by 10% through 2031, faster than the average for all occupations. This position may increase significantly given the digital age’s importance in everyday life. Businesses will continue to rely on effective social media strategies to improve their visibility and connect with customers, suggesting robust demand for skilled social media managers.

Social media manager career tips

Understand your audience

Social media managers should be adept at audience research and identifying what kind of content garners audience response. Understanding customer preferences and behaviors allows these professionals to create engaging content and campaigns.

Stay updated with social media trends

Social media trends change rapidly, and what works today might not work tomorrow. Keep updated with trends, algorithms, and features for various platforms. Follow industry blogs, influencers, and news to stay informed.

Develop a distinctive brand voice

A unique and consistent voice helps distinguish a brand from others on social media. This voice should reflect the brand’s personality and values and remain consistent across all platforms and communications. Developing a brand voice guide can be an effective way to ensure consistency.

Master analytics

Social media management is as much a science as it is an art. Understanding analytics is essential for measuring the effectiveness of campaigns, informing strategy, and gaining valuable insights about an audience’s behavior. Familiarize yourself with the analytics available on each platform and augment them with tools that provide more comprehensive data like Google Analytics, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social.

Build a professional network

Networking can open up collaboration opportunities, offer learning experiences, and broaden professional horizons. Here are a few professional networks and associations to consider:

  • Social Media Club
  • American Marketing Association (AMA)
  • International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)
  • LinkedIn Groups for Social Media Professionals
  • Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Society

Continuous learning

The ever-evolving nature of social media calls for continuous learning. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Stay updated with platform changes: Regularly check for updates that often include new features, algorithms, and policy changes
  • Webinars and online courses: Coursera, Udemy, and Hootsuite Academy offer numerous social media management and marketing courses
  • Attend social media conferences: Conferences like Social Media Marketing World and Social Media Week can offer valuable insights into the industry

Manage time effectively

Time management is important for managing multiple platforms across the fast-paced social media landscape. Effective strategies include planning content ahead of time, scheduling posts, prioritizing tasks, and using management tools to streamline processes.

Embrace creativity

Social media is a platform for creativity and innovation. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and experiment with content to distinguish your brand, attract attention, and engage your audience in new and exciting ways.

Handle a crisis professionally

A social media crisis can include a negative review, a controversial post, or a customer complaint. Knowing how to handle these situations professionally and proactively can prevent escalation and protect your brand’s reputation. Always have a crisis management plan in place.

Advocate for social media within your organization

Part of a social media manager’s role is to promote the value of social media to other stakeholders in the organization through regular reports showcasing successes, presentations on the potential of social media, or simply ensuring that social media is a vital part of the organization’s overall marketing strategy.

Where the social media manager jobs are

Top companies

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram

Top states

  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Illinois

Top job sites

  • Zengig
  • LinkedIn
  • Indeed
  • Upwork
  • FlexJobs


What educational background is typically expected for social media manager?

A bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, public relations, or a related field is typically expected for the role. The field is also open to individuals with degrees in other areas, provided they have relevant experience and a demonstrated understanding of social media platforms and strategies. Furthermore, certifications in social media management, digital marketing, or content creation can provide an edge.

What skills are essential for a social media manager?

Social media managers need a deep understanding of social media platforms and their specific audiences. They should be able to create engaging content, analyze social media metrics, and use social media management tools. Strong written and verbal communication skills are essential, as is the ability to respond to social media inquiries and comments in a timely, professional, and brand-appropriate manner. 

What does a typical day look like for a social media manager?

Daily tasks include creating and scheduling posts; responding to comments, messages, or reviews; developing and implementing social media campaigns; and analyzing performance metrics. Managers may also conduct market research to stay current with trends, participate in team meetings, collaborate with other departments, and report on social media activity and results.

How much does a social media manager need to know about a company’s brand?

Social media managers are often responsible for representing their company, so a deep understanding of the brand is crucial. Actions and communications must consistently reflect the brand’s voice, values, and image. Consider the brand’s target audience when creating content that aligns with marketing and business objectives.

How important is creativity for a social media manager?

The position requires generating engaging content, developing innovative campaigns, and finding new ways to connect with audiences. A creative manager can help a brand stand out in a crowded social media landscape and attract more followers and engagement.

What role does a social media manager play in customer service?

A social media manager often plays a significant role in customer service. They monitor the company’s social media platforms for customer questions, comments, and complaints. Punctual and professional responses, including escalating customer issues if needed, play a role in managing a company’s online reputation.

Does a social media manager need to be familiar with social media advertising?

Familiarity with social media advertising is typically expected, including knowing how to use Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn advertising tools. Ads target specific audiences, and analytics optimize performance. 

Do social media managers work closely with other roles or departments?

They often work closely with various roles or departments within a company, including marketing, public relations, customer service, and sales. Collaboration ensures a consistent brand message across all platforms and aligns social media strategies with broader business objectives.

How much knowledge of SEO is necessary for a social media manager?

Extensive SEO skills are not required, but a basic understanding can be beneficial. Social media can contribute to a company’s SEO strategy through link building and driving traffic to the company’s website. Using keywords effectively in social media content can also help improve visibility.

What tools does a social media manager typically use?

They use various tools to help manage and optimize activities. These include social media management platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer, analytics tools, content creation tools, and project management software. Managers may also use social listening tools to monitor brand mentions and track trends.