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How to Become a Social Media Manager

May 8, 2020

Two social media managers sit on stairs and drink coffee while brainstorming strategy on a tablet.

As more and more people join social media, businesses are turning to social platforms to increase brand awareness and attract customers. According to Hootsuite, 3.48 billion people around the world now use social media and more than 90% of brands use social media to increase brand awareness. This growth has resulted in increased demand for skilled social media managers who can apply their expertise of social platforms to drive business and revenue.


What Is a Social Media Manager?

A social media manager is responsible for planning, executing, monitoring, and measuring the social media presence of a brand or business. Social media managers work alongside other marketing managers at the highest level, focusing on top-level social media strategy in addition to daily production.

The job responsibilities of social media managers include:

  • Developing and executing social media strategy
  • Creating and maintaining brand promotions and marketing campaigns
  • Educating others on social media best practices
  • Fostering social engagement by responding to questions and comments in a way that aligns with the brand voice
  • Monitoring social media analytics to evaluate success and track key performance indicators
  • Participating in social media as thought leaders, experts, and representatives of a brand

Social media management is a rapidly growing, highly valued field. Many businesses and nonprofits have added social media management positions in recent years. The median annual salary of social media managers is around $50,000, according to December 2019 PayScale data.


How to Become a Social Media Manager

The three key steps to becoming a social media manager are getting a basic social media education, gaining on-the-job experience in an entry-level social media position, and pursuing advanced training.


Basic Education and Training

Most social media positions require a bachelor’s degree, so basic education and training is the first step toward breaking into the social media industry. In addition to a formal degree program, supplementary courses and online training can help social media novices hone their abilities. Specialized bachelor’s degrees in mass communication can offer that training alongside general education requirements.


Technical Expertise

Success as a social media professional relies on an in-depth understanding of many different social media platforms. Hands-on experience managing accounts, creating posts, and engaging in social media communities is the ideal way to build this expertise. Many businesses and nonprofits offer full-time, part-time, and internship positions that provide opportunities to gain real-world experience.


Career Advancement

While social media positions come in many varieties, those interested in management roles may need to pursue specialized training. Aspiring social media professionals should consider a degree with a focus on modern public relations, like the LSU Online Bachelor’s in Mass Communication with a Public Relations concentration, which is designed to foster leadership abilities and enhance industry expertise.


Skills for Success

Beyond formal education and experience, social media managers need to develop a wide range of additional skills to be successful.


Copywriting

Copywriting is one of the first skills to focus on when thinking about how to become a social media manager. Social media managers are responsible for not only generating numerous posts every day, but also understanding the different styles required for each platform. For example, while an Instagram caption may be more lighthearted and playful, a LinkedIn post should come across as informed and professional. Switching between these different tones can be challenging for even the best writer, but social media provides an even greater challenge due to the limited space (literal and metaphorical) social media managers have to grab their audience’s attention.


SEO

An important companion to copywriting, search engine optimization (SEO) can have a significant impact on social media strategy. Effective SEO improves search rankings and drives traffic to a brand’s website—results that are vital in today’s highly competitive business landscape. A skilled social media manager should not only understand how to optimize content for SEO, but also incorporate SEO in a natural, on-brand way.


Customer Service

Customer support and community engagement are fundamental to successful social media management. According to Smart Insights, 63% of customers said that they expect companies to offer customer service through their social media channels, and 34.5% said that social media is their preferred customer service channel. Addressing this need can be challenging due to the always-on nature of social media: A slow response to a customer question—or worse, no response at all—can have a profoundly negative impact on customer loyalty. Because of this, social media managers need superior customer service skills to retain customers and maintain a positive brand reputation.


Creativity and Innovation

Social media is a rapidly evolving industry. Most social platforms are relatively new—Instagram was launched in 2010, for example—and the way users engage with different social media channels changes frequently. Staying ahead of this change requires creativity, innovation, and flexibility. Social media managers need to be able to experiment with new features, measure success with analytics, and adapt social strategy almost constantly. In addition, as social platforms become more saturated, social media managers need to think creatively about how to make a brand stand out from the crowd.


Learn More About How to Become a Social Media Manager

The LSU Online Bachelor’s of Communication — Public Relations offers a comprehensive curriculum designed to help sharpen your skills as a social media expert as well as enhance your knowledge of business and leadership. The impressive faculty and alumni network provides unparalleled opportunities to connect with business innovators. The program’s emphasis on leadership, management, and critical thinking gives you the skills you need to advance your career and become an industry leader.


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