What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Maddy Price. © The Balance 2019

Many people would like to work as a social media manager but aren't quite sure what the day-to-day job entails. A social media manager is responsible for monitoring and posting to all of a company's social media outlets as well as interacting with and growing the firm's audience.

The social media manager's ultimate goal is to raise awareness of a brand, company, product or a person while driving traffic online, offline or both. Depending on the job, a social media manager is typically associated with brand building through outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, corporate blogging and any new, emerging social platforms.

Social Media Manager Duties & Responsibilities

Social media is still the baby in marketing. It's quickly proven itself as a powerful way to reach consumers and, because tweeting and posting updates sound so simple, it's attracted many people who think it's an easy, fun job that doesn't require a lot of effort.

The reality is that social media never sleeps and requires a good deal of work. A social media manager has many duties and responsibilities in any given workday, such as the following:

  • Check up on what happened overnight. This includes reading new emails, looking over Twitter @ replies, re-tweets and mentions, checking Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks for interactivity, comments, wall posts and responding when necessary.
  • Work on the day's social media updates. This starts with a check on the company's website to see what has been posted so far that can be used for an update.
  • Visit the company's website several times a day, and do a continuous check on feeds to find news, blog posts, videos, and other posts or tweets to share with the audience.
  • Keep an eye on trending hashtags that you can apply to your updates so you can expose more people to the company through the hot topics.
  • Monitor the mentions of the company you work for so you can address praise and complaints quickly.
  • Post and schedule updates take place throughout the day.
  • Interact with the audience, which is anyone asking questions or making comments.
  • Monitor analytics as your updates go live, to watch where traffic is going and gauging what's working today to see if you can capitalize on the buzz.

The social media manager often switches from task to task throughout the day. One minute you may be writing a tweet to zero in on a trending hashtag, the next you're posting a newsworthy update to LinkedIn. You follow that up by interacting with a customer who's posted on the company's Facebook wall and then publish a new Pinterest board.

Now you're off to address comments on the company's new YouTube video, followed by writing a blog post that you'll then promote across all of the company's social media outlets. At the end of the day, you're scheduling updates to go live overnight while you're asleep so the company has a 24/7 presence to reach the night owls, the customers in another time zone and even those in other countries.

Social Media Manager Salary

A social media manager can make anywhere from $10 an hour to over $100,000 a year. Large cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have a high demand for full-time, in-house social media managers, and that's where the higher salaries can be found.

Social media managers, as a subset of public relations specialists, have the following salary range according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries vary based on the area of expertise, level of experience, education, certifications, if you're working freelance vs. a full-time, in-house position, and other factors.

Education, Training & Certification

Companies who hire full-time, in-house social media managers usually have certain requirements for the position, such as the following:

  • Education: Many firms require candidates to have a degree in marketing, journalism, public relations or new media. Smaller companies tend to outsource social media work to keep overhead costs down. These companies usually advertise the position through online sites and hire freelancers who may or may not have a degree. Pay for freelancers is significantly lower than that of an in-house social media manager.
  • Work experience: Depending on the job, your work experience managing other social media campaigns may be considered if you don't have a relevant degree.

Social Media Manager Skills & Competencies

Certain skills and competencies can give candidates an edge and ensure their success on the job, such as the following:

  • Social media knowledge: Every social media manager needs to have in-depth knowledge of social media and must always keep up with the latest social media trends.
  • Writing skill: You will need excellent writing and grammar skills with an emphasis on catering to an online audience.
  • Ability to engage an audience: The rules of social networking go beyond being able to write something clever in 140 characters or less. You are the online representative of the company and your job is to engage your audience, interact with them and grow the numbers through social media.
  • Company knowledge and strategic thinking: You have to know everything you possibly can about the company you're writing for because you are an integral part of the marketing process. Updates must be balanced with online networking to grow the business and you have to develop a strategy that works specifically for that company.

Becoming a master of new media will strengthen your career, regardless of the industry where you wish to work. After all, every industry imaginable is using social media—from media entities to automakers, healthcare to retail. The job opportunities are limitless.

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for public relations specialists (which includes social media managers) over the next decade relative to other occupations and industries is 9%, driven by the increasing use of social media for promoting companies and their products. This trend may contribute to faster job growth in the future.

Employment growth in this career is slightly faster than the average of 7% for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

Work Environment

Social media managers typically spend their working hours in an office environment. Periodically, they attend meetings and community activities outside of the office, deliver speeches, and travel occasionally.

Work Schedule

As with public relations specialists, many social media managers work a full-time schedule during regular business hours. Overtime and longer workdays are both common.

How to Get the Job

BUILD YOUR OWN SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

Many people who've landed social media manager positions got their start by managing their own personal account. For those with limited experience, there's no better way to show off your social media expertise than by building up your own Twitter followers, Facebook fans, Pinterest boards, etc. and then using those accounts to market your skills as a social media manager.

It's also a great way to find out if a career as a social media manager is right for you. As you're managing your personal brand, you'll get to learn exactly how to build a social media presence from the ground up.


FREELANCE

If you're looking to get a few projects under your belt, find freelancing jobs online. While these don't pay very well, they can be your future references for the higher-paying, full-time jobs.


APPLY

Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. You can also visit your college career center, or join an industry group such as the Social Media Organization (SMA) and visit their career center for job openings.

Comparing Similar Jobs 

People interested in a social media manager career also consider the following career paths, listed with their median annual salaries: