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How to Become a Social Media Manager

The way companies and the public interact with each other has radically changed because of social media. From a corporate standpoint, using these modern lines of communication isn’t just a matter of posting something on the popular social media platforms of the day. Someone must smartly and carefully craft each message to have a positive impact on a company’s existing and future client base.

Lady holding a cell phone smiling straight forward

Social media managers specialize in this work, and their capacity to send out the right messages at the right time has made them an increasingly indispensable part of corporate communication strategies. Because of this, it has become important for students interested in communications to know how to become a social media manager so they can be prepared to find success in this burgeoning career.

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Social media managers use social media platforms to communicate with the public and to field any private messages sent to their companies. They facilitate interaction through strategically posting various types of content that reflect an awareness of current events and relevant trends that directly correlate to their companies’ industries. Social media managers are also responsible for analyzing data to gauge the effectiveness of various communication strategies.

Additionally they must be able to recognize and engage in new and emerging social media platforms to help companies stay relevant. Some social media managers may also need to collaborate with third-party organizations, like public relations firms or event planners, to help promote an employer’s event or specific cause.

Typical Steps to Becoming a Social Media Manager

Professionals usually acquire the role of social media manager after they have worked in lower-level communications positions. The path to social media manager includes steps that are similar to those taken to build careers in a other communications-based professions.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

Many employers prefer candidates who possess at least a bachelor’s degree. While this level of education isn’t always a requirement, degree may indicate to an employer that an applicant has the discipline and skills to keep up with the demands of the social media manager profession. This is particularly relevant since the job requires people to be constantly active on different social media platforms.

Attaining a degree in liberal studies or marketing may provide the tools needed to be successful as a social media manager. However, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication can give students the capacity to thrive in the position, as graduates has studied what it takes to connect with the public in a professional manner.

Some universities provide students with the chance to home in on the business side of social media. For instance, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication program might offer an emerging media strategy and social media concentration. This focus enables students to deeply analyze the ever-evolving social media market, along with how various patterns and trends shape business-to-consumer interactions in today’s interconnected world. This concentration enables students to develop the creative and interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in a varied market.

Step 2: Build On-the-Job Experience

As previously stated, becoming a social media manager typically involves working up from an entry-level role. For this relatively new job in communications, this could mean starting out as a social media specialist, coordinator or community manager. These opportunities can allow aspiring social media managers to gain hands-on experience with manager oversight. Eventually, social media specialists or coordinators and community managers can apply the lessons they’ve learned to a midrange position, such as social media manager.

Those who want to become a social media manager can develop a practical understanding of corporate- or brand-related public interaction while on the job. Ideally, prospective social media managers can apply this understanding to developing strategies for cultivating and maintaining a solid social media following. The knowledge they gain through professional experience can also enable them to proactively use new and trendy forms of social media as these platforms grow in popularity. This latter aspect is a crucial element to succeeding in the role, as social-based technologies and platforms can oftentimes change at a rapid pace.

Step 3: Earn an MBA for Career Advancement (Optional)

Students wishing to eventually progress beyond the realm of social media manager may consider pursuing an MBA, particularly one with a marketing concentration. Doing so may put them in a position to pursue a senior communications role within a company, such as marketing manager or promotions manager.

Some Master of Business Administration programs offers a marketing concentration, which may include classes on social media, consumer behavior and search engine optimization. These focused courses teach advanced marketing strategies that social media managers can use to create analytical campaign strategies, such as aligning a company’s online presence to current and anticipated social media trends.

Skills a Social Media Manager Needs

While the role of social media manager may seem new because it focuses on recently developed communication spaces, the skills needed to succeed in the position are similar to the ones used in corporate communication.

Writing well and creatively is an essential function for this role. The social media manager helps build the online face of the company and therefore must exhibit a good command of the intended audience’s language, including the appropriate tone and terminology. Social media managers also communicate in the voice that aligns with the company’s overall message and principles so that interactions with the public are perceived as authentic and genuine.

Social media managers typically have strong project management skills, including the ability to meet deadlines. They often calculate their communication to take advantage of audience size, time of day, and topic relevance. A social media manager should be able to produce and manage effective communication across multiple platforms in a timely manner to keep his or her company’s online presence as prominent as possible.

Social media managers must also have a solid understanding of marketing fundamentals, such as interpersonal communication and analytical skills. Excellent critical thinking skills are necessary, as one poorly timed or careless post or tweet can severely damage a company’s image.

Social Media Manager Salaries and Job Outlook

Because social media manager is a relatively new position, salary information for this field is vague. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups the profession with other types of PR specialists, such as online community managers and digital engagement specialists. This group has a median annual wage of around $56,700 as of 2015.

Likewise, BLS does not offer specific job growth projections in the field. However, because of the proliferation of social media usage over the past several years, social media managers and related roles may be poised for substantial growth. It’s not a stretch to think this field will be competitive as it continues to expand.

Start Your Journey to Becoming a Social Media Manager Today

Social media has grown into an important link between a company and its customers. Learn more about Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Communication program, which can help provide students with the skill set needed to confidently become the online voice of a company or brand.

Sources:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers”

Bureau of Labor Statistics, “You’re a What? Social Media Specialist”

Forbes, “5 Skills Your Social Media Manager Must Have”

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