Have you ever wondered what a social media manager actually does? Maybe you’re considering how to become one, or maybe you just need to prove to your grandparents that “no, I don’t sit around on Facebook all day!” (Which would explain why you didn’t reply to their last 20 comments on your pictures from graduation).
In any case, the job description of a social media manager is one that is constantly changing to keep up with the times. You're an integral part of the marketing team, managing the brand's online community, and balancing a multitude of channels each with their own dialects.
So while it’s difficult to pin down, there are some very clear skills and responsibilities that social media managers possess.
What is a Social Media Manager?
A social media manager is in many ways the same as a community manager. They are the leader who oversees your social media strategy from scheduling posts to reporting on performance. They are often responsible for managing a team and they check the quality of all posts, ensuring they adhere to the business’ social media policies.
They possess a special blend of “big picture, little picture” -- managing your online community, encouraging engagement & clicks, and running the social side of marketing campaigns.
The role of a social media manager is integral to a company’s reputation, growth, and brand image. Not only are they keeping their eyes and ears attuned to consumer conversations within your online community, but they are also creating and optimizing content that reinforces the consumer/brand relationship.
A social media manager is responsible for ensuring the right information is shared with your company's online community at the right time.
It should be noted that social media managers usually focus on organic social, while paid social is often handled by another person or department.
What Does a Social Media Manager Do?
The day-to-day life of a social media manager entails checking the day’s scheduled posts, making any changes needed, editing copy, and meeting with fellow marketing team peers on upcoming campaigns, product launches, or other promotional opportunities — like a CEO interview or a new partnership that you'd like to announce publicly. These must all then be incorporated into your social media planning roadmap.
Your day will also include community management responsibilities such as liking, commenting, and sharing posts from your followers, partners as well as peers.
Note: the role of social media is slightly different if you work B2B vs B2C. B2B social media marketing will require you to offer business-based solutions and speak as an industry expert. B2C social media management involves speaking directly with your consumer community, so your interaction with your followers will probably be more conversational.
What Skills Does a Social Media Manager Need?
As we mentioned, social media managers need to be able to balance big picture social strategy with small picture details, communicating regularly with the wider marketing team. The below skills are essential to success as a social media and community manager.
1. A data-driven mindset
Analyzing metrics is no small part of your job as a social media manager.
This is how you determine your progress against your goals and assess the direction your channels should go from a high-level strategy perspective. (Feeling stuck? See our 10 step checklist for a social media audit).
Successful social media is nothing if not creative! You need to think outside the box if you want to move the needle and stand out in your community. Consider the creativity that went into these brands’ April Fools posts for example. (I mean...who else was crestfallen that Find My Brick wasn’t real?!)
This probably goes without saying, but social media is just that: social. (Contrary to what your parents probably think). Social managers have to want to engage with all sorts of different folks in their community on a consistent basis. Being a people person is a huge asset for a social media manager.
You have a lot to keep track of when you’re a social media and community manager. From scheduling posts across multiple platforms to managing collaborations, community engagement, and campaigns, there’s very little room for error.
You also need to pull regular metrics. Keeping them in a ship-shape spreadsheet will be essential for communicating your progress to the wider marketing team.
5. Community oriented
Cultivating a community is one of the key aspects when it comes to social media. As a community manager on social media, you need to be energetic but also strategic.
Follow conversations closely and moderate community content, finding ways your brand can interact within various online communities, is a huge part of the job.
Be ready to be quick thinking, light on your feet, and flexible with changes — sometimes up to the minute! Social media isn’t stagnant and the community is always shifting.
Sometimes a crisis arises and you need to be ready to address it in a timely manner. And don’t underestimate the way social listening can influence HR.
Keys for Success as a Social Media Manager
To be successful in the job of a social media manager and community builder, and to drive a social media strategy forward, you should have a working knowledge of the social media space — in particular, the major channels like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook but also more niche communities like Twitch and TikTok.
You should feel comfortable communicating in a variety of ways, with sharp copy skills. Having a working knowledge of various marketing styles and advertising tactics won't hurt either.
Aside from the skills listed above, you'll shine bright in the job market with the below included on your resume or demonstrated in your portfolio:
1. Software knowledge
To pull ahead in the field of social media management, you should have a thorough understanding of various social media software tools. These tools may involve the basics such as scheduling ahead, or they may be a bit more involved, with social listening capabilities and sophisticated data analytics.
2. Know your meme
A social media manager needs to be able to keep up with current and cutting edge trends across social media platforms. This not only helps you have a competitive advantage — it means you can communicate and respond on social media like a peer.
Unless you’re in on the joke, you don’t want to run the risk of appearing out of touch and responding with a meme that is just so yesterday.
3. Writing chops
Social media is about communicating conversationally yet professionally — sometimes in a limited amount of characters! (Looking at you Twitter).
People in the online community are all too eager to jump on mistakes, which is just the kind of interruption you don’t need in your day. So good writing is essential. Have your apostrophes, semi-colons, and spelling ducks in a row!
A Day in the Life of a Social Media Marketing Manager
While your colleagues may think you have it easy, more often than not, as a social media manager, your day is far from a day at the beach and more closely resembles the film "Groundhog Day".
With businesses now investing seriously in a social business model, as opposed to approaching social as an afterthought, the job of a social media manager is more important than ever.
The scope of their work touches all aspects of what comprises a modern organization. This infographic details how much work social media managers contribute to the work of a company in their drive to fulfill business goals.
To learn more about what it takes to drive social business, read our latest e-book, Social to Scale: How to Build a Serious Social Media Program.