How to Become a Social Media Manager

A social media manager uses social media platforms to engage with an organization's customers and draw new ones in. There are multiple paths to become one.
Social media manager at his desk

A social media manager possesses a keen eye for design and analytical skills, and combines a mastery of language with customer-first thinking. With social media nearly ubiquitous across industries—banks, clothing brands, and government officials each typically have social media accounts now—working as a social media manager can open doors to a variety of fields.

What does a social media manager do?

Social media managers are responsible for creating and analyzing content for an organization’s social media pages. The social media manager’s role serves to build brand awareness, engage with followers, and increase positive customer sentiment. 

A social media manager can do everything from compose posts to develop social media strategy and track metrics to see how posts are performing. They can work as a part of a brand marketing team consisting of designers, strategists, and copywriters. Their tasks can vary widely, but may include:

  • Posting and monitoring social media platforms: A social media manager will be responsible for maintaining an organization’s social media platforms. This might include scheduling posts, writing copy, and collaborating with creative partners on social media assets. They may also be responsible for responding to comments and messages from followers.

  • Campaign strategizing: Setting goals for a social media campaign means knowing what business ends social media posts will meet. Will a campaign boost brand reach, increase new registrations, or keep customers engaged? What kind of content should be produced for the holidays, or Women’s History Month? These are the kinds of questions you might answer in strategizing for a campaign.

  • Analyzing data: Social media managers may spend time analyzing data to draw conclusions about how their social media is performing. This can include social listening—monitoring what social media users say about a brand or competitors.

Other specific tasks can include:

  • Editing posts to ensure they’re in keeping with a brand

  • Communicating with other players like designers, copy editors, and business managers

  • Finding ways to convert social media users into customers or re-engaging existing customers

Social media manager salary

A social media manager earned an average base salary of $52,367 in 2021 in the US, according to Glassdoor [1]. This might vary depending on where you’re located, seniority, education, and other factors. 

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that advertising, promotions, and marketing manager roles are expected to increase by six percent over 2019 to 2029 in the US—faster than the overall job growth average [2].

How to become a social media manager

Build your skill set.

Working on the following skills can put you on a path to becoming a social media manager.

  • Writing: Good social media writing goes beyond good grammar and spelling. Social media copy will require concise, compelling writing that can fit into a brand’s story and engage an audience. Build confidence in your writing skills before applying to become a social media manager.

  • Social media savviness: You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of several social media platforms—their strengths, weaknesses, and user demographics, among other characteristics—to manage their accounts successfully. Knowledge of the following platforms will likely be most important:

    • Facebook

    • Instagram

    • Twitter

    • LinkedIn

    • YouTube

Certain brands with younger customers may require knowledge of platforms like Snapchat and TikTok. Build up your social media experience through courses or professional certificates, like Facebook’s Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate on Coursera.

  • An eye for design: Be prepared to communicate to designers, editors, or other marketing team members what you envision for social media posts. What kind of stock image will you use? What tone should a written message strike? Envisioning a post and then articulating the business reasons for your decisions will be critical. If you’re expected to produce visuals yourself, knowing your way around design tools like AdobeSpark or Canva can be helpful. Explore design courses on Coursera to get started.

  • Analytical tools: Knowing what kind of messages resonate with consumers requires an analytical eye and a capacity to research. Try to be familiar with social media analysis tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and HubSpot.

  • Flexibility: Change is constant in the world of social media. New trending hashtags, changing posting algorithms, and new platform features often require social media managers to be able to think on their feet and incorporate novelty into their work.

  • Reading the room: News events can cause some posts to be perceived as tone-deaf or insensitive, or otherwise overshadow your post in importance. Knowing how to react accordingly will be important to maintaining an organization’s brand.

Get an internship or entry-level social media job.

Experience working with social media is a key part of becoming a manager in the field. If you’re short on experience, look for an entry-level position that can teach you the basics of social media marketing before trying to move into a managerial position.

Keep an eye out for these entry-level job titles:

  • Marketing intern or social media intern

  • Social media coordinator

  • Social media specialist

  • Social media associate

  • Marketing assistant

  • Social media analyst

  • Content creator

  • Marketing specialist

  • Marketing associate

Looking for other ways to build experience?

Experience with social media doesn’t have to be relegated to professional realms. If you volunteer for an organization, offer to help run the social media accounts. 

And if you’ve built a sizable following on your personal social media platform, it could be worth mentioning to a hiring team (provided they’re appropriate to the job). Being able to market yourself successfully can indicate a savviness that may translate to running a brand.

Get a degree.

Social media managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Majoring in a field that will build your communication or business skills—like journalism, communications, or marketing—can prepare you for the role. 

Going to college can also expose you to various opportunities where you’ll be able to gain experience with social media in a professional capacity. Use your career center’s resources to look for internships or other available roles. Otherwise, try joining a club and contributing to their social media efforts.

Getting started

Social media managers can act as an organization’s mouthpiece to engage with the public and promote their vision. If you’re ready to start learning, take a look at Facebook’s Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate on Coursera—the first week is free.

Related articles

Article sources

1. Glassdoor. "Social Media Manager Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/social-media-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,20.htm." Accessed March 26, 2021.

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm." Accessed March 26, 2021.

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