What Does a Social Media Manager Actually Do?

Afoma Umesi, Contributor to the CareerFoundry blog

Whether you’re thinking about becoming a social media manager, or looking to hire one, you’ll want to know: What does a social media manager do? Keep reading to find out. 

Social media marketing has never been more relevant. According to a recent study by Sproutsocial, “55% of consumers learn about new brands on social media.” This marketing channel can open doors for businesses and increase conversions dramatically, if properly managed. Hence, the importance of a social media manager. 

But before you pivot into this career, it is wise to know what your employer or client will require of you. We’ll address this in detail throughout this article.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. What is social media marketing? (A brief recap)
  2. What does a social media manager do? 
  3. What are the typical tasks and responsibilities of a social media manager?
  4. What are the main skills of a social media manager?
  5. What is the average social media manager salary?
  6. How to become a social media manager
  7. Key takeaways

So, what does a social media manager do? Let’s take a look.

1. What is social media marketing? (A brief recap) 

Social media marketing refers to using social media platforms (think Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, for example) to create brand awareness, drive sales, or increase website traffic. Using this marketing channel, brands and businesses apply a variety of strategies to find potential customers, connect with them, and persuade them to make purchases.

Learn more about other marketing channels brands and businesses use to promote their products and services.

2. What does a social media manager do?

Like the title implies, a social media manager oversees a company’s social media marketing efforts. They may work as part of a large marketing team, or—in cases where social media is the main marketing channel—they may make up the marketing team.

The social media manager develops strategies for the business’s social media platforms, oversees their implementation (or implements them), and tracks the results using analytics. They also report their progress either to the head of marketing or other supervisors.

Social media managers are responsible for communicating with clients about their strategy and ensuring that the client’s vision comes to life on social media channels. 

Let’s take a closer look at specific day-to-day responsibilities of a social media manager.

A social media manager sitting at a desk, speaking into a microphone

3. What are the typical tasks and responsibilities of a social media manager?

Depending on the size of the company, the social media manager may have more of an idea generation and overseeing role than implementing. But in smaller organizations, they may be the only ones on the social media team. 

Ultimately, the social media manager is in charge of the following tasks in some capacity:

  • Developing brand social media voice: While the social media manager may not be in charge of overall brand voice, they play a major role in deciding how the brand sounds on social media.
  • Creating and implementing social media content strategy: They decide what to post, how to engage with the audience, and how to promote content across platforms. 
  • Visual content design: The social media manager either creates or oversees the creation of assets like images, graphics, and other visual content used across social media platforms.
  • Developing social media marketing campaign strategies: Whether the brand is promoting a new product or service, forming influencer partnerships, or trying to reach a new marketing goal via social media, the social media manager takes the lead.
  • Community management: This involves engaging with and listening to followers across social media platforms.
  • Monitoring campaign performance and analytics such as link clicks, likes, follower counts, and other measurable forms of engagement.
  • Maintain social media partnerships with other brands by running ad campaigns, for example.

Social media manager job description

If you’d like to see a real-life job posting for the role of social media manager, we found this one from Uber Eats. Note what is expected of applicants:

A social media manager job description posted by Uber Eats

Even before you’re ready to apply for jobs, it’s worth browsing for job ads to see how the social media manager role varies from company to company, and which responsibilities and requirements frequently crop up. We recommend looking at LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor to start with. 

4. What are the main skills of a social media manager?

With such a mix of creative and analytic roles on platforms that never sleep, social media managers have their work cut out for them. Here are some skills you’ll need to excel at this demanding but exciting role:

Creativity

A creative mind is essential to this role as it involves a mix of several creative abilities and the ability to keep strategizing and trying new things.

An eye for design

Choosing the right images and graphics for campaigns requires understanding the basics of good design.

Organization skills

Social media management requires high-level efficiency, from setting up an editorial calendar to keeping all relevant social media channels updated.

Strong writing and editing skills

Copywriting is inextricably linked to many many digital marketing roles, but especially to social media management. You’ll be writing a whole lot of captions, headlines, and updates—or editing content your team writes.

Data analysis

You’ll also need to make sure that your ideas are actually working. Social media managers monitor the amount of traffic they’re sending to their brand websites, how many sales they’re driving, and how the platform algorithm is treating their posts.

Tech savvy

With so many tools available, being tech savvy is non-negotiable. You should know how to use scheduling tools like Buffer and design tools like Canva, among others. 

Customer service

The role also requires community management. Responding to tweet replies, Instagram comments, and networking on social media platforms demands customer care skills. 

Adaptability

Social media trends are always changing. What’s hot today may not be tomorrow. So, social media managers must know how to adapt to new platforms and strategies.

Resilience

Social media managers often work with tight deadlines and may be on the receiving end of hurtful social media comments. Additionally, their work can make it hard to set social media boundaries and unplug. They’ll need to be able to deal with this side of the job.

Leadership

As the team lead, the social media manager will need to supervise junior team members, set up processes, and even manage multiple projects.

With such a fast-paced work schedule, let’s see what the average social media manager salary is.

A social media manager sitting on a bench outside, working on a laptop

5. What is the average social media manager salary?

Understandably, this varies widely throughout the U.S. and even around the world. Here’s what we found in our research about average pay for social media managers in the U.S.:

All those figures amount to an average salary of $51,649. Curious about what the average social media salary is throughout the U.S. and in some other countries? Learn more from this comprehensive social media manager salary guide.

Sound like the right fit for you? Then you’ll want to know how to get the role of your dreams as a social media manager. 

6. How to become a social media manager

Thankfully, most social media manager roles do not require a university degree. Instead, experience is the foremost requirement. If you’re seriously considering becoming a social media manager, here’s how to proceed.

1. Get hands-on experience

The best place to learn social media marketing is on the job. So, look for ways to gain experience in the industry. You can try running social media for a family business, building your own social media and starting a personal brand, or applying for paid internships. You could also reach out to your favorite social media influencer and offer to manage their account on a trial basis. 

2. Find online resources

Online resources can go a long way to educate you about social media management and the industry in general. Here are some things you can do:

3. Take courses and get certifications

If you do better with online courses and have the dedication to follow through, then try one of the following social media marketing courses:

You’ll find a more extensive roadmap in this step-by-step guide on how to become a social media manager

7. Key takeaways

Social media management is a demanding but enjoyable role—if you have the skills to make it work. A social media manager has to be creative, analytical, and resilient to develop and implement strategies across several platforms. While you don’t need a degree to get a role in this industry, you’ll need plenty of experience.

If you feel like social media management sounds like a good fit for you, we recommend:

  1. Learning more about the industry by following experts and blogs
  2. Taking a few online courses to understand how strategizing and analytics work
  3. Starting a social media account or managing one to gain hands-on experience

Want to learn more about social media marketing roles? Read these articles:

What You Should Do Now

  1. Get a hands-on introduction to digital marketing with a free, 5-day short course.

  2. Take part in one of our live online events about career change into tech.

  3. Talk to a program advisor to discuss career change and if digital marketing is right for you.

  4. Explore all our career-change programs and become an in-demand tech professional.