What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

A complex new marketing position for social-media-savvy writers and professionals, social media managers handle pretty much everything related to social media for their clients. This includes writing posts on Facebook, Twitter, and similar sites; creating and curating visual content (image and video); providing online customer service; developing long-term digital marketing campaigns and strategies; and measuring and analyzing social media data (e.g., likes, follows, and shares) and web traffic. As if that weren't enough, they are sometimes also responsible for search engine optimization (SEO). Social media managers do it all, and stay on top of new and developing tools and trends in the process.

Increasingly, social media managers are the main point of contact between the companies and artists they represent and the feedback of users, fans, subscribers, and customers.

The most common misconception about social media management is that it's solely about creating a "brand" or online persona. Social media managers, like all marketers, work toward specific and tangible goals: increasing the number of likes and shares, boosting sales, creating hype for a release, or getting visitors to sign up for email lists. Increasingly, they are also the main point of contact between the companies and artists they represent and the feedback of users, fans, subscribers, and customers—which isn’t always positive. Social media managers prioritize comments and questions to respond to and perform critical damage control when their clients are receiving negative attention—from a wayward troll to a legitimately displeased customer.

All told, the job performed by social media managers is as varied as the online communities and identities they cultivate. This position is constantly evolving; just five years ago, social media was still primarily the terrain of interns, not specialists. Today, more and more companies and individuals are coming to understand the importance of having a dedicated social media manager with a specialized set of skills.

Social Media Manager at a Glance

Career Path

Social media managers tend to have at least a bachelor's degree, and are well served by a liberal arts education. Their job is similar to another evolving position, the digital content producerBecause this is a newly established field, it's too soon to say exactly how social media managers should progress through their careers down the road. However, that's not to say that there's little opportunity for advancement—quite the opposite. Social media managers who make themselves indispensable can be promoted into newly created positions, such as director of digital marketing, and have the opportunity to forge a landmark career on the vanguard of this influential industry.

Finding Work

Demand for this relatively new position is extremely high. Aspirants should reach out to companies whose work and mission are of interest and inquire about their social media situation. Some businesses are still skeptical about the necessity of dedicated social media management, so prospective social media managers should be prepared to advocate for their own importance. It's also worth checking out basic job listing sites such as Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. The first thing employers will do when considering a candidate for this position is search them on social media, so plan accordingly.

Professional Skills
  • Social media (multiple platforms)
  • Social media management software
  • Written communication
  • Live streaming
  • Digital media
  • Photoshop
  • Customer service
  • Web analytics
Interpersonal Skills

Social media managers are curious and engaged internet dwellers who adapt quickly to new trends and resources. The best are copywriters, marketers, digital content creators, public relations agents, and customer service representatives—all in one. It also helps to have a close connection to pop culture and the collective consciousness of the internet, a great sense of humor, and thick skin.

Work Life

Social media managers work in offices, in homes, or on the go. The job might entail traveling to and attending conferences, performances, or networking events, especially if livestreaming is part of the social media manager's responsibilities. With full-time, part-time, and contracted positions available, a social media manager's work life varies greatly.

Still, there are some consistencies: most social media managers spend a lot of time each day dealing with online communities, and are rarely completely off the job. A new piece of information, new viral media, or a complaint from an angry customer can come at any time, and engaging with internet conversations as they develop is a pivotal part of the job. Posts and tweets can be scheduled ahead of time, but for everything else, social media managers must be constantly switched on.