If you’d told someone 10 years ago your dream was to be a social media manager, you would have been laughed out of the room. Social media was in such an infancy stage, only its creators believed it would actually go anywhere. The thought of an internet tool replacing phone calls and text messages as the way we communicate and network with each other was just a little short of ludicrous, because why would the world have any interest in your baby or vacation pictures? As it turns out, social media has positively exploded to the point where companies serious about moving forward use it as a necessary tool, not a nice-to-have possibility. One of the aspects of using social media for work is to do it properly, it can easily become a full-time effort. Let’s take a look at what it means to actually be a social media manager.
The Job Description
As a social media manager, you’ll be in charge of the company’s online presence. At first, this may sound like fun: you get paid for essentially playing on Facebook and sending out tweets. It’s a little more difficult than that, as you have to strip yourself of your own personality and become someone else — the company representative. You’ll be “speaking” as an online representation of the company, and that requires you to capture its voice, philosophy, mission and brand, not yours.
As well as understanding what your company is about inside out, you’ll also have to be really in touch with your company’s target audience. If you work for, say, a ski and snowboard company, you’ll have to use a certain type of language as opposed to if you’re working for a theatre or opera company. The trick is to also balance a voice that’ll please the majority of the company’s audience, while drawing in the next generation of its audience.
Education and Skills Required
Unlike a job in engineering, law or medicine, you don’t need any particular type of education background — or even a degree at all — but only to show you understand social media thoroughly. Plenty of people have gotten jobs as social media managers without any sort of relevant degree, and plenty of people will continue to do so.
But put yourself in your prospective employer’s shoes for a second and imagine you’re doing the hiring for the position. If you had two equally impressive candidates in front of you, one with a college certificate in communications and the other with a bachelor’s degree in journalism or marketing, which candidate would you lean toward? The latter candidate would immediately strike you as inherently more qualified and ready to jump in, while the former might need a bit of training before they could hit the ground running. Remember, employers are focused on what makes their jobs as easy as possible, and the less time they have to spend on training you, the happier they’ll be.
Along with a relevant degree (i.e. journalism, marketing, communications, or anything else similar), you could do no harm for your case by getting a certificate in social media, too. This tells employers you’ve taken it upon yourself to make yourself an expert in the field, giving them further incentive to hire you.
One of the great things about being a social media manager is you can say goodbye to the grind of a 9-to-5 job. What your days will look like are a lot more free and flexible than that, which can also be a downside for people who like structure to their jobs.
What matters most is your performance, and you’ll be tasked with the following:
Finding content relevant to your company’s mission and that’s meaningful to its target audience.
Posting responses to online questions, and doing it quickly. Minutes matter a lot in the online world, and followers want to make sure they’re being heard.
Drive social media campaigns to ensure interest in the company is present and engaged. Giveaways and contests are two the of the most popular forms of doing this.
Brainstorm ideas to clients and followers, just as you would with in-person meetings.
Watch the news for any relevant and timely information to post to your company’s social media channels.
Use the statistics side of your brain to use analytics as a measuring tool for what’s working and what’s not.
How much you’ll get paid varies quite a bit depending on what company you work for. Some companies will see you as just another cog in the wheel doing a menial task, and compensate you as such (e.g. $30,000 a year
). This tends to happen in larger businesses that have gotten a little too big for their britches to pay people according to the value they add to the company (e.g. Apple, Walmart).
Where in the country you work also makes a difference in how much you get paid, so let’s take a look at the three highest- and lowest-paying cities to work in as a social media manager.
New York, New York: Average salary of $73,000 to $116,000
San Jose, California: Average salary of $74,000 to $117,000
San Francisco, California: Average salary of $72,000 to $114,000
Phoenix, Arizona: Average salary of $48,000 to $77,000
Denver, Colorado: Average salary of $53,000 to $83,000
Seattle, Washington: Average salary of $53,000 to $84,000