Skills & Expertise

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Tap your mad Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat skills to snag this awesome job

Unless you’ve been living under a rock most of the past decade, you probably know a thing or two or ten (we’re looking at you, Millennials) about social media. You can post pics with the best of them and upload six-second videos like a champ.

You’re totally ready for that social media manager job you want, right? Slow your roll, Flash. Being a social media manager isn’t just about posting content. We talked to some pros and found out everything you need to know. Here’s the lowdown:

What exactly does a social media manager do?

“The short answer: a lot!” says Suzanne Samin, social media editor at Romper, Bustle’s parenting site, where she is responsible for the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat and Google Plus accounts. Social media managers are responsible for curating a brand’s social channels, she explains. They monitor, moderate and respond to audience comments; manage social media partnerships with other brands; and create and/or post shareable videos and images.

They also strategize and execute digital marketing campaigns and gather and analyze the data results from those campaigns. In addition to working with the design team to make illustrations and memes for their accounts, Samin tracks how much traffic is driven to Romper via social media and notes what content is performing best so she and the editorial team can use those analytics to grow the site’s audience.

What skills do you need?

Social media literacy is a no-brainer. At the very least, you should know Facebook, Twitter and Instagram like the back of your hand. You also need to understand how each platform differs so you can maximize them all, says Vince Buscemi, director of digital communications and social media at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. You should also be able to recognize and understand your audience on each account, he adds.

Top-notch communication and writing skills are important too, as is a good sense of humor. And being a “master-level gif hunter” never hurts, adds Samin. Just remember to keep your brand and audience in mind when crafting your message.

Because you’ll get audience feedback that runs the gamut from praise to criticism, including blasts from trolls, it’s also vital to have a thick skin. The ability to prioritize which comments need replies and when is another must.

Sounds great. Who would be my boss?

If you work for a large corporation, you might report to the head of communications or marketing. If you work for a small entity or startup, you might report directly to the CEO. Maybe someone at a media outfit reports to the managing editor.

Are there other titles with similar responsibilities?

Social media specialists, community managers and digital communication specialists have responsibilities similar to social media managers. Digital communications director Buscemi, for example, oversees McDaniel’s website as well as the school’s official Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts. He also monitors social media streams created by various departments and campus offices to ensure the school’s best interests are maintained.

What do I need to get ahead in this position?

It’s all about being creative and staying on top of emerging trends and technologies. To kill it as a social media manager, you should be able to come up with engaging, sharply written content on the fly, and you should be using the next big tool or channel in social media to do it.

So how can I get my foot in the door?

A degree in fields such as journalism, public relations or marketing can help. But marketing the heck out of the social media skills you honed spending time on your own accounts is key. “You might not think your intimate knowledge of Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter is a marketable skill,” says Samin, “but it absolutely is.”

If you’d like to hone your social media skills even more, consider taking a class. Mediabistro’s Online Courses offer social media topics that range from a crash-course in social media engagement to an in-depth analysis of social media metrics.


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