Almost half of global internet users (44.8%) used social media to search for brand information in 2020. Given its prevalence, businesses now recognize why it’s so important to hire a social media manager to manage their online presence.
Working as a social media manager can be challenging. One thing that all social media professionals share in common is the need to wear many hats. From content creation to customer service to PR to sales, businesses often rely on their social media managers to “do it all” when it comes to managing and executing their social media strategy.
Whether you’re an aspiring social media manager, or an HR manager looking to hire one, we’ve outlined the key aspects and requirements of the job below.
Bonus: Customize our free, professionally designed resume templates to land your dream social media job today. Download them now.
A social media manager’s responsibilities vary widely depending on the size of an organization.
Within smaller companies, a social media manager may have to also act as a one-man content creation team, including doing graphic design, copywriting, and photo and video editing. Within larger organizations, social media managers may work with agencies and/or the teams and specialists with those skills.
No matter how big their team and resources, social media managers have many duties to juggle.
When the job ad said social media manager but what they really meant was content creator, digital strategist, crisis comms coordinator, graphic designer, customer support exec, video editor, gen z translator, general scapegoat and occasional IT trainer pic.twitter.com/QuyA2ab6qa
— workinsocialtheysaid (@workinsociaI) February 18, 2021
A typical social media job description includes the following responsibilities:
- Building content calendars and scheduling/publishing content
- Community management (replying to comments and messages, flagging issues to other teams)
- Acting as a channel owner for all social media accounts (including knowing each channel’s best practices, deciding which content goes out where and when, and adapting content across channels)
- Creating campaign plans for business and marketing priorities (e.g. product launches, rebrands, awareness campaigns, contests, etc.)
- Writing creative briefs (to give direction to agencies and/or internal designers, video editors, and copywriters)
- Supporting influencer marketing initiatives (such as identifying and selecting influencers, reposting content, and engaging with influencer posts)
- Creating weekly/monthly reports (and ad-hoc reports for major campaigns, sponsorships, etc.)
- Social listening (including monitoring hashtags and branded keywords, detecting brand safety issues, managing social media crises, and identifying real-time marketing opportunities)
- Overseeing content, providing feedback to creative/content teams (acting as the subject matter expert for all content destined for publishing on social media)
- Guiding best practices for social media (staying up-to-date on new platforms and features)
- Creating and/or curating content (taking photos, writing copy, designing or modifying graphics, editing videos, finding UGC content, and contributing to editorial content)
A typical day of a social media manager involves lots of content creation, meetings, and ensuring comments and messages are addressed to keep customers happy. While social media is fast-paced and no two days are the same, here is what a day-in-the-life often looks like for a social media manager:
9-10am: Checking emails and replying to mentions and messages (or assigning them to other teams)
10am-noon: Focused work (such as writing creative briefs, providing feedback, or building content calendars)
Noon-1pm: Lunch break – go outside, meditate, take a screen break
1-3pm: Meetings with other teams and departments (social media managers often work on cross-functional teams, managing approvals from multiple stakeholders)
3-3:30pm: Analyzing results, creating reports
3:30-4pm: Reading newsletters, blogs, watching webinars
4:30-5pm: Replying to mentions and messages
5-5:30pm: Scheduling content for next day
At the campfire. While away camping. https://t.co/0HPq91Uqat
— Nick 🇨🇦 (@AtNickMartin) May 18, 2021
There isn’t one best education path or work history for social media managers. Great social media managers can come from a variety of backgrounds due to the variety of skills used in the role.
Here are ten skills that are key for being a strong social media manager:
Almost every social media post needs a caption, so good writing is a non-negotiable skill for all social media managers.
Even more than writing, social media managers should be good at editing and writing short-form copy to adhere to character limits and best caption lengths. It’s a skill in itself to be able to convey a brand message, a CTA, and be snappy and engaging within 280 characters.
If there’s anything that should offend a social pro, it’s typos. Having repeated typos or poor grammar is a sure way to hurt a brand’s reputation online, and social media users are quick to jump on mistakes. Having good attention to detail means that social mea managers will spot spelling or grammar errors before hitting “send” on a post.
this ones for my fellow social media managers 💔 pic.twitter.com/G5lIZoVFFr
— Stein (@steinekin) April 28, 2021
Given that visuals play such an important part in social media (especially on platforms like Instagram), social media managers need the ability to judge between good and bad design.
They don’t have to be graphic designers themselves, but having a discerning eye and being aware of photo editing trends makes it much easier when working with designers and giving constructive feedback.
4. Awareness of pop culture and current events
From memes to trends, social media is built upon pop culture and current events. This is especially true for platforms like TikTok.
Social pros always have their finger on the pulse of what’s happening, not only to jump on brand-relevant real-time opportunities, but also to know when to pause social media posts due to major world events.
Having strong global awareness helps social media managers to be aware of cultural sensitivities and spot potentially off-color jokes that could damage a business’ reputation.
When it comes to managing a content calendar, there are a lot of pieces that are subject to change. Posting daily means working at a fast pace, with lots of pieces of which to keep track. This is why post scheduling is a time-saving feature for many social pros.
Constantly between the states of “Did I schedule that thing?” or “Did that thing already post?"
— Social Media Tea (@SippinSocialTea) June 21, 2021
Social media managers need to be highly organized in order to ensure assets are delivered on time, on brand, and approved by all stakeholders. People who enjoy making systems and can handle context switching make excellent social media managers.
6. Good business sense and objective-oriented
While social media managers don’t need business degrees to be successful, it’s important to have a good sense of how business works. It is a social media manager’s responsibility to ensure that the social media strategy ladders up to the business’ overall objectives.
The best social media managers have strategic minds, and are always thinking about the bigger picture and how posts can support higher-level marketing and business priorities.
7. Data analysis
While many social media pros excel at being creative, they also need to be unafraid of working with numbers. Social media platforms provide tons of data (sometimes too much), so it’s important to be able to wade through lots of data and find the most meaningful points that lead to actionable insights.
Knowing basic Excel skills allows social media managers to extract and manipulate data without needing to rely on others. This is valuable when needing to analyze per-post performance or drill down into very specific social analyses. Having a robust social media analytics tool also helps social media managers to easily spot trends and extract insights—without the hassle of spreadsheets.
8. Can work under pressure
Managing a business’ social media channels often means being the voice of a brand. This is a big responsibility to take on, no matter how big or small the brand. Therefore, social media managers need to be cool under pressure.
There is often lots of scrutiny on everything a social media manager posts, both from followers and employees. Thoughts and prayers to every social media manager who has had to explain a tweet (or why not to tweet something) to the CEO.
This. A thousand times this. https://t.co/gq91bYz2Sw
— Jon-Stephen Stansel (@jsstansel) June 23, 2021
When acting as the voice of a brand, it’s too easy for social media managers to feel that negative replies and messages directed at the brand are also directed at them personally. This can really wear down on a social media manager’s mental health. It’s important for social media managers to remind themselves to detach their personal worth from the brand and, if necessary, stop reading comments.
Note: Ideally social media managers also have bosses who are understanding of the toll that working on the frontlines of digital engagement can take, and who are respecting of work life balance.
10. Able to set boundaries and unplug
Related to the previous trait, social media managers should know how to set personal boundaries. Whether it’s silencing notifications, taking screen breaks, or taking a vacation to a wifi-optional cabin in the middle of nowhere, these habits are important for preventing burnout (the rates of which are quite high in the social media industry).
that’s it, i’m ready to enjoy my weekend
– social media managers at 6pm on a sunday
— workinsocialtheysaid (@workinsociaI) June 22, 2021
Thanks to the always-on nature of social media, social pros have the tendency to always be checking mentions. The best thing a social media manager can do for themselves and the business is to create well-documented guidelines (such as tone of voice, style guides, and platform playbooks) so that they can hand off the social reins to someone else and not be tempted to check in while on vacation.
There are lots of ways to learn the skills and concepts needed to become a social media manager, with no one set path being favored over others by hiring managers.
Here are a few different ways to become a social media manager:
- Online courses: Learn the fundamentals of social media marketing online and at your own pace. Here are 15 courses and resources to learn social media, and when you’re ready to deep-dive into each platform, here are 9 Instagram courses.
- Certifications: Certificate-based courses usually provide more in-depth training compared to normal courses and test your skills to ensure you’re job-ready. Hootsuite Academy offers a comprehensive Social Marketing Certification Course to get started, as well as advanced certificate programs.
- Bootcamps/training programs: Bootcamps offer immersive versions of courses (both online and in-person) that provide a fast track to getting trained as a social media manager, often in 6-9 weeks. Consider these options from Brainstation and General Assembly.
- Internships: Internships, ideally paid, are a great way to gain experience when starting from scratch. In addition to social media internships, also consider internships in digital marketing, communications, PR, and advertising agencies, which all can give exposure to social media tasks.
- Shadowing and mentorship: If you’re already working in a company or have a connection to an established social media pro, consider asking them if you can shadow them in their job. Shadowing allows you to observe and learn the day-to-day responsibilities, and also evaluate if working in social media is right for you.
If you’re interested in working in social media, jump start your job hunt with our social media manager resume templates. The templates are designed to highlight how your experience lines up with the most important skills for social media jobs.
Use the templates to update your existing resume or build a new one from scratch.
Here’s how to use them:
Step 1. Download the fonts
To use our social media manager resume templates, you will need to have these fonts downloaded on your computer.
Click on each link to get started.
Click Select this font in the top right corner.
Click the download arrow in the top right corner.
Once the font package has downloaded onto your computer, open the folder. Double click each font file to install every variation individually. Click Install Font.
Step 2. Download the templates
Bonus: Customize our free, professionally designed resume templates to land your dream social media job today. Download them now.
Right click on the zip file to download from Google Drive.
Don’t forget to “unzip” the file on your computer!
Step 3. Start editing
Open your chosen file, Chan or Leopold, in Microsoft Word. Click anywhere to start customizing the file for your own experience. You can change or remove any text, icons, or colors.
Make sure to save often and rename the edited file with your own name.
Now that you know what a social media manager does and the top skills needed to become one, you’re one step closer to launching your career in social media.
Next step: learn the tools used by successful social media managers. You can use Hootsuite to easily manage all your social channels, collect real-time data, and engage with your audience across networks. Try it free today.