Today’s consumers increasingly use social media -- from Facebook and Twitter to Snapchat and YouTube -- to interact with friends, family and companies on the web. As more customers use these platforms to talk about and share news and stay in touch with others, organizations are hiring more professionals to run the social media accounts and build their web presence with diverse audiences. If you're contemplating a career in this growing field, you can expect a positive job outlook, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects jobs for public relations specialists, which include social media positions, to increase by 9 percent through the year 2026.
What Is a Social Media Manager?
If you’re an active social media user, then you’ve probably followed the Instagram account of one of your favorite clothing companies or liked the Facebook page of a local retailer. From branded images and videos to carefully crafted messages, social media managers curate the information you see on organizations’ social media channels. Some of their primary responsibilities include researching, writing and posting daily content that promotes the company's products and services, and cultivates brand awareness with online followers.
However, a social media manager’s job extends beyond just crafting and publishing snippets of information across different social media platforms. These tech-savvy professionals also track and analyze the performance of an organization’s social media accounts, and use metrics (e.g., comments, shares, replies, retweets) to determine the type of content that resonates best with their audiences.
How to Become a Social Media Manager
Although one of the preferred qualifications for social media managers is a bachelor’s degree in a major like advertising and communications, many employers express a desire to hire candidates who already have social media expertise. Organizations in need of social media experts emphasize the need for candidates with experience managing popular social networks. In addition to general social media knowledge, employers look for candidates who have:
- A solid grasp of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and content marketing principles. Organizations look to maximize their online presence by cross-promoting web content across blogs, websites and social media.
- An in-depth knowledge of social advertising. Employers increasingly rely on paid social ads to target specific demographics and maximize online buzz around products and services.
- A familiarity with social media management tools (e.g., Buffer, Bitly, HootSuite, Sprout Social, TweetDeck). The ability to navigate these services is a plus, because they’re often used to launch and manage marketing campaigns such as contests on social media.
- Excellent copy writing and customer service skills. Employers look for professionals who can not only create witty and compelling posts, but also quickly and professionally reply to and field customer concerns.
- A basic knowledge of graphic design, as well as proficiency with software programs including Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Studies reveal that posts with photos and videos have significantly higher engagement rates than posts with only text.
How Much Social Media Managers Make
A February 2018 PayScale report showed that the median salary for social media managers in the United States was $48,104. During the same time period, Glassdoor reported an average base salary of $54,238 for U.S. social media managers. Similar to other roles, annual pay in social media varies depending on factors including geographic location, years of experience and education level.
While earning a college degree and postgraduate degree may boost your chances for landing a job, proving to employers that you’re an early adopter of new social media platforms and an avid follower of digital trends will ultimately help you stand out in a competitive job market.