A social media manager is someone who is responsible for the overall social media strategy of a company. In this role, you will need to liaise directly with marketing professionals and ensure that the voice of the brand or company is consistent and reaches its target audience.
What is a social media manager?
A social media manager manages, organises and tracks a company’s online presence. Social media roles encompass a lot more than just social media channels. Social media managers will need to liaise with marketing managers, customer service and the sales team to ensure that all of the department’s messages are correctly conveyed.
It is common for a social media manager role to be combined with a marketing and communications role. Often, those in charge of their company’s email communication will also handle social media elements.
The responsibilities for a social media manager will largely depend on where you are working and who for. The most common responsibilities are:
- Carry out detailed audience research.
- Create engaging social media campaigns.
- Ensure that all company members are using social media to its full extent.
- Handle all of the company’s social media channels.
- Handle and manage relationships with social media influencers.
- Liaise with different departments.
- Manage budgets.
- Track campaign effectiveness using Facebook Insights, Google Analytics or relevant third-party software.
The budgets you are working with will also impact your responsibilities. Many social media managers will have more projects and, potentially, more people to manage with a larger budget.
The average social media manager salary depends on a number of factors. The size of the company you work for and their location will factor into how much you can potentially earn. Social media managers based in London will have a larger earning potential than those working in other areas.
Your salary can rise further when you move into more senior roles. Senior roles tend to pay between £47,000 and £60,000.
The required qualifications for this role will depend on where you are applying. Traditionally, a social media officer does not require a degree to apply for this role; however, more companies are beginning to set a degree, preferably in marketing, as a requirement for those applying.
For those who wish to study at university, the best subjects to consider are:
- Advertising degrees
- Business management degrees
- Journalism degrees
- Marketing degrees
- Media and communications degrees
- Public relations degrees
- Social media degrees
Those without a degree can also explore other qualifications. Companies have been known to accept applicants with a higher national certificate (HNC), a higher national diploma (HND), BTEC or college diploma.
Training and development
Responsibilities for training and development in this role are split between you and your employer. Some employers will have internal training programmes for you; however, you will also need to source your own external training courses.
Registration with industry organisations is not mandatory but is recommended. Organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and the Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) have several training courses aimed towards professional development and providing you with industry-standard professional qualifications.
Joining a professional body has other benefits aside from training. While a continuing professional development (CPD) is not a requirement in this industry, it is optional and many organisations will offer CPD advice and support, as well as general career progression tips.
A social media manager requires several key skills to be successful in this role. The main skills needed to become a social media manager are:
- An eye for detail.
- An eye for new trends.
- Creative skills.
- Excellent collaboration skills.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- Good copywriting skills.
- Strong copywriting skills.
- The ability to read and interpret data.
These skills can be honed through extensive training and development.
It is possible to find work experience in this area. Pre-university work experience should be easy to come by as long as the company you are applying to does not have confidentiality parameters.
Work experience is not a requirement in this role, but it can be very helpful. This is generally a role that allows for graduates to start immediately; however, some companies may require you to have previous experience in other aspects of marketing before they will hire.
It is possible to find volunteering, apprenticeship and social media marketing internship opportunities as well. These can sometimes be listed on industry organisations' websites, such as the CIM or IDM, although some companies may list their vacancies.
The career prospects for a social media manager are potentially lucrative. Social media management is often viewed as a graduate career, so you may not need to have done any jobs in social media marketing prior.
It is possible to grow into more of a managerial role. Though the title is “social media manager”, you may not technically manage a team or group of people within the company. Moving into a senior role may allow you to train and manage other social media executives or the marketing team, depending on your level.
Of course, you do not need to stay as a social media manager. It is possible to move into other marketing roles, such as an email campaigns manager, general marketing manager or a pr executive.
Another potential avenue is data analysis. Social media often requires complex analytical and statistical investigation and moving into a data analysis role (maybe as a social media analyst) can be a logical and potentially lucrative move.
It is possible to look into potential freelance options. This is generally advisable when you have several years of industry experience and have built up a wide web of contacts.