What's a Social Media Manager? And How to Become One

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Want to become a social media manager? Learn what you'll do in the role, what skills you'll need, what sort of salary to expect, and how to realise your goal.

[Featured image] Man and woman working on social media marketing on a computer

A social media manager is typically responsible for setting content strategy and driving engagement on a company’s social platforms. To succeed in that role, social media managers must possess storytelling skills, an eye for design, and an ability to analyse what does well with an audience—and what doesn’t. 

Social media has become a key marketing area thanks to its ability to reach and capture customers while learning more about their needs, desires, and frustrations. And it’s widespread across industries. Companies, brands, non-profits, government officials, celebrities, and more have accounts to communicate directly with followers. This means working as a social media manager can lead to a variety of fields. 

In this article, we’ll explore the responsibilities of a social media manager, the key skills necessary to do this line of work, and how to get started. 

What does a social media manager do?

Social media managers are ordinarily responsible for developing strategies to increase followers, creating and overseeing social campaigns, producing content, reviewing analytics, and communicating with key stakeholders in a company. 

As a social media manager, your specific responsibilities will depend on the size of your company. For example, while many social media managers at larger companies typically approve copy or videos rather than create them, it’s common for social media managers at smaller companies to take on more content creation. 

If you’re interested in working as a social media manager, your tasks might include:

  • Increasing followers and driving engagement: Boost a company’s profile on all active social platforms by increasing their followers and the amount of engagement (likes, comments, shares) they receive. Employers and clients may expect you to develop written or visual posts to achieve both.  

  • Strategising content and campaigns: To drive engagement, you’ll be responsible for ideating (and sometimes executing) social campaigns that align with a company’s larger marketing strategies. You may also generate ideas for timely and evergreen content or repurpose user-generated content.  

  • Analysing data: In addition to creative work, you’ll also spend time analysing data to conclude how a company’s posts and content are performing. This can include social listening—monitoring what social media users say about a brand or competitors.

  • Reporting metrics to key stakeholders: Companies want to know your work has an impact. So, you’ll likely report your achievements or any problems that arise to your marketing team’s—and even the company's—stakeholders. They’ll probably be looking to see how you grow followers, increase engagement, and develop creative content and campaigns, among other metrics. 

  • Posting and monitoring social media platforms: Depending on the size of your team, you may take the lead on posting and monitoring all social platforms. So you may need to schedule posts and observe followers’ responses. You may also be responsible for responding to comments and messages from followers.

Social media manager skills

If you’re interested in becoming a social media manager, it’s a good idea to improve your skills in the following areas: 

  • Writing: Whether drafting posts or crafting captions, good social media writing goes beyond solid grammar and spelling. It will be essential to hone your copywriting skills to develop compelling writing that fits into a brand’s story and voice and engages its audience.

  • Editing: Alongside writing copy, you’ll likely need to review your team members’ work and ensure it's grammatically correct and error-free. Honing your copy editing and proofreading skills can help you develop the eye to reassure a company or brand that they’re safe. 

  • An understanding of social media platforms: You’ll need to understand several social media platforms thoroughly. Knowing a platform's strengths, weaknesses, and user demographics can help you manage accounts successfully. Knowledge of the following platforms will likely be necessary: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok.

  • An eye for design: Be prepared to communicate about images, infographics, videos, and more with graphic designers, marketing managers, and other marketing staff. Envisioning a post and then articulating your choices' business or strategic reasons will be critical. 

  • Analytical tools: Knowing what messages resonate with consumers requires an analytical eye and the capacity to research. It’s helpful to know how to use social media listening tools like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and HubSpot, among others.

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

  • Timeliness: News events can cause some posts to be perceived as tone-deaf or insensitive or otherwise overshadow your post’s importance. Staying on top of the news and the more significant online conversations can help you react accordingly and maintain an organisation’s brand.

Read more: 13 Key Marketing Skills to Boost Your CV

Social media manager: Job outlook and salary

In the United Kingdom, social media managers make about £36,815 per year on average [1]. This figure represents salaries reported by Glassdoor users in the UK and reflects the midpoint of a range between the 25th and 75th percentile. As a social media manager, you may have an opportunity to earn more through bonuses, a profit-sharing program, or commission. 

As with most tech jobs, the field of digital marketing is rapidly developing, so workers are always in demand. A recent report from techUK projects the creation of about three million new jobs in the UK requiring digital skills by 2025 [2]. 

How to become a social media manager

The path to becoming a social media manager may vary depending on your desired position. However, in most cases, it helps to have a qualification and work experience. 

Consider a degree. 

Although it’s not a strict requirement, many employers looking for a social media manager require or prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree. Fields like marketing, advertising, communications, or journalism will likely offer classes to help you improve your social media skills.

Get an internship or entry-level social media job.

To get valuable work experience, look for part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer opportunities that require someone with social media skills. While earning your qualification, you can look for part-time opportunities in your area using the Find a Job service. 

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

  • Social media coordinator or specialist

  • Social media associate

  • Marketing assistant

  • Social media analyst

  • Digital content producer

Gain experience where you can

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

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


Getting started

To find out if a career in digital marketing is right for you, consider taking a course in the subject. Brush up on your marketing and social media skills with the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate on Coursera. This valuable course requires no prior experience or degree to enrol and features a near-perfect 4.8 customer approval rating.

Article sources


Glassdoor. “How Much Does a Social Media Manager Make in United Kingdom? https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/uk-social-media-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN2_KO3,23.htm.” Accessed August 28, 2023.

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