How To Become a Social Media Manager: A Step-by-Step Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 January 2023

Published 25 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies recruit social media managers to manage their presence on various social media networks. To pursue this career, you need a unique set of qualifications and skills. Understanding the role of a social media manager and how to attain the right qualifications can help you secure employment with greater ease. In this article, we define the role of a social media manager, review the average salary for this profession, explain how to become a social media manager and answer frequently asked questions about social media managers.

What is a social media manager?

A social media manager is an individual who manages the social media presence of a business or a person. They monitor, filter, contribute to and guide the social media presence of a business, product or brand. Social media managers understand news cycles and serve as an industry expert for their company, individual, product or service. They often work within an organisation's communications, marketing or public relations department.

Related: What does a social media manager do? (Skills and how-to)

What does a social media manager do?

Companies hire social media managers to help them gain and maintain their customers. Since social media platforms are fast-paced and usually considered "real-time marketing," social media managers work and respond quickly to share information as it becomes available. They perform several duties that help them effectively lead an organisation's social media strategy including:

  • Develop a creative social media strategy for an organisation

  • Create editorial calendars for social media content

  • Publish content to share through various social media channels

  • Respond to social media comments and feedback to create a positive brand experience

  • Create social media campaigns with messages that represent the brand voice

  • Track social media content and campaign success through engagement ratings, metrics and analytics

  • Present social media metrics and findings to upper management and recommend improvements to increase performance

  • Maintain brand guidelines across all channels and work with team members to ensure consistent brand messaging

  • Stay up to date with the latest social media trends

Related: Social media metrics (for tracking success)

How to become a social media manager

While you don't need a certain set of qualifications to become a social media manager, many social media managers have similar credentials. Typically, employers set the requirements for their social media manager positions. Here are the common steps these professionals take to pursue this profession:

1. Establish your online presence

Gain experience by establishing a strong online presence and personal brand on various social media channels. Consider creating a quality blog and using various multimedia tools such as videos and photos to help you reach a wide audience. Track the engagement on your posts and record it as evidence of your social media abilities. Make sure you're able to show how you can use social media on a professional level.

Related: 29 website features to impress your audience

2. Gain professional knowledge

Since employers have different requirements for this profession, review the common qualifications for the companies you'd like to work for. Some employers require their social media managers to have a degree in a related field. Consider pursuing a degree in advertising, journalism, marketing, media and communications or public relations. These fields can help you learn the vital skills you need to work as a social media manager.

Apart from a degree, you can also complete an apprenticeship. For example, you can take an advanced digital marketing apprenticeship. An apprenticeship lets you earn money while completing your academic studies. In addition, consider a social media internship at a large company.

Related: Higher Apprenticeships: Everything You Need to Know

3. Apply for an entry-level position

Apply for entry-level social media positions at the junior or assistant level. Gain social media experience through these positions and build your resume and portfolio until you gain the required amount of experience for the managerial jobs you're interested in. Enough experience can qualify you for a more advanced role as a social media manager. It helps to gain any experience in marketing, advertising or public relations.

Related: How to Get Your First Job

4. Earn a postgraduate qualification

If you have a degree, consider pursuing a postgraduate qualification in a relevant area. For example, you can study business intelligence and social media, social media and digital marketing or social media and interactive technologies. A postgraduate qualification in any of these can impress recruiters and help you advance into a social media manager role.

Related: What does an influencer do? (Plus how to become one)

5. Research social media manager positions

Review job posts for open social media manager positions. Apply for any you're interested in and that you qualify for. If you don't meet the job requirements for the job you're interested in, continue developing your skill set. Apply with a strong resume and overall job application that differentiates you from other applicants.

Social media manager salary

Social media managers make an average salary of £30,892 per year. However, your salary in this profession may vary based on your experience level, your geographic location, the sector you work in and your employer. For example, your salary may change depending on if you work for an agency or as part of an in-house team. Your salary as a social media manager may also change if you work on a freelance basis.

Related: 12 top jobs on social media and their duties and skills

Social media manager skills

Social media managers use a variety of skills to help them complete their duties. While it's important to know how to use social media, it helps to have a skill set with strong soft skills. Here are some of the essential skills you can develop for this profession:

  • Time management: As a social media manager, it's important to have strong time management skills to prioritise your tasks. Social media managers use this skill to ensure they publish social media content at the optimal time.

  • Communication: Social media managers use their communication skills to respond to comments on a company's social media pages. Not only do they respond in writing, but they also use videos, pictures, GIFs and emojis to communicate their message.

  • Creativity: Strong creativity skills help social media managers create interesting, unique and valuable multimedia content for a company's social media followers. Strong creativity skills lead to greater engagement and customer retention.

  • Social media knowledge: Social media managers use their understanding of different social media platforms to execute various campaigns. Not only do they understand the platform itself, but they also know the types of users on each platform and how to write for these audiences.

  • Analytical skills: As a social media manager, it's important to have strong analytical skills to interpret social media metrics and data. Your analytical skills can help you create insightful reports and help you determine how best to improve your social media strategy based on your findings.

  • Flexibility: Since social media moves quickly, it's important to quickly digest online information and shift your social media approach or campaign to fit current trends or needs. Staying up to date with the latest social media developments and changes can help you remain flexible as a social media manager.

Related: In-demand social media manager skills

Frequently asked questions about social media managers

Here are some common questions about social media managers:

Where do social media managers work?

Social media managers either work as part of an in-house creative team or as part of an outside agency. When you work as part of an in-house creative team, you work exclusively for one company. You can often find these opportunities with medium or large organisations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

When working for an agency, you often manage social media for various clients. The agency you work for may specialise in areas like social media, digital marketing or public relations.

What industries do social media managers work in?

Social media managers work in all industries in the workforce. For example, you may find a job as a social media manager in the business, food service, retail, higher education, hospitality, transportation, travel, healthcare or construction sectors. Most companies in most industries are active in social media in some form now.

Related: 15 Top Industries To Work In

What is the work schedule like for a social media manager?

While social media managers typically have a full-time schedule, they may work part-time or on contract. They often work normal office hours from 9-to-5, Monday through Friday. They may work longer hours to meet certain campaign deadlines. Freelance social media managers may also work longer hours in order to meet the needs of their clients.

Related: 10 Useful Social Media Scheduling Tools

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