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How to Become a Social Media Manager

More than 2 billion people worldwide use social media platforms. This new reality represents a major marketing opportunity for businesses. According to the 2018 CMO Survey, social media marketing now makes up 12% of a typical company’s marketing budget, up dramatically from 3.5% nearly a decade ago. Social media has become a critical tool for promoting products and building brands. As a result, social media manager has become an important marketing role for companies looking to take advantage of online platforms to grow their business.

For prospective students or marketing professionals considering how to become a social media manager, there are specific requirements they need to know about as they pursue this position. While this overview highlights the typical steps needed for becoming a social media manager, there may be additional training, education, certification, or experience required, depending on the employer, organization, or nature of the position.

Group of digital marketers check on their company’s social media account

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Social media managers are savvy marketing professionals responsible for promoting the brand of a company or organization through social media platforms. They work with their company’s marketing department to develop strategies that promote advertising campaigns and brand messages online.

It is their job to put these strategies into action by creating company profiles on social media platforms — such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn — and managing and updating company pages with posts that align with those strategies. Campaigns can include organic (free) posts as well as paid advertising, all with the goal of driving website traffic, downloading apps or content, promoting engagement, customer acquisition, and more.

Social media managers are also responsible for interacting with a company’s customers and followers through these platforms. They may be required to respond directly to customers, answering their questions and concerns about a company or its products and services.

Social media managers also analyze the traffic to their company’s social media pages. They must determine the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns as well as pay attention to other online and social media trends. They then report their findings to their teams and make the necessary changes to boost brand recognition and loyalty among consumers.


Becoming a Social Media Manager

A combination of the right education and experience can prepare you to succeed as a social media manager. Here is an overview of the key elements involved in this career path.

Step 1: Earn a Degree

Advertising and marketing management positions often require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, communications, journalism, or other relevant field. A bachelor’s degree program, such as an online Bachelor of Science in Marketing or online Bachelor of Arts in Communication, can train marketing professionals in digital advertising, communication techniques, market research, consumer behavior, principles of business and sales, and other relevant topics. While a bachelor’s degree may be the only academic requirement for becoming a social media manager, attaining a more advanced degree may be necessary depending on the particular position and employer.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Another important step for becoming a social media manager is gaining relevant work experience in a company’s marketing or advertising department. For aspiring social media managers seeking an entry-level position, an internship at an advertising agency or a company with its own marketing division can provide an opportunity to gain knowledge of how companies develop and implement marketing strategies.

Step 3: Acquire These Skills

A wide range of marketing and communications skills may give social media professionals an advantage when pursuing a management position. Candidates should have a solid understanding of web tools and online platforms, as well as content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and other traditional and social media advertising techniques.

In addition to simply knowing how to use and update social media platforms, social media managers should be creative, contributing inventive ideas for building profiles, attracting followers, and engaging audiences. They should be proficient writers and communicators with an aptitude for providing excellent customer service. Analytical skills are also required for professionals in this position to determine the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and adjust and optimize strategies as needed. This includes being able to manage paid social media budgets and to understand language like cost-per-click (CPC), cost per acquisition (CPA), etc.


Social Media Manager Salaries

Social media manager is an exciting marketing position, giving qualified candidates the opportunity to put their education and skills to use in a creative and challenging way. In addition to gaining valuable marketing and advertising experience, social media managers can earn a competitive salary, depending on the employer and the industry in which they work. According to PayScale, the average social media manager salary is $49,139.


Future Growth of Social Media Managers

Businesses across a variety of industries have begun to recognize the benefits of hiring qualified social media managers to oversee the promotion and advertising of their brands online. Marketing professionals and those with a background in digital advertising and content marketing may see increased opportunities as social media managers. Later, they will be able to use this management experience to pursue more advanced positions in marketing, such as marketing director.

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide data pertaining specifically to social media marketing, it does measure statistics for general advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. According to the BLS, marketing managers employed by varying industries will see a 10% increase in employment from 2016 to 2026.


Explore Marketing Career Paths

By gaining expertise in advertising techniques, technology advancements, online promotion strategies, and social media trends, aspiring social media managers can be prepared to help businesses build their brands and retain customers. Learn more about Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Marketing or online Bachelor of Arts in Communications and discover how you can pursue your career goals.

CNBC, “Peak Social? The Major Social Platforms Are Showing a Significant Slowdown in Users”
Forbes, “5 Skills Your Social Media Manager Must Have”
Forbes, “Social Media Spending, Use, and Distraction?”
Maryville University, Careers With a Marketing Degree
Maryville University, Online Marketing Degree
PayScale, Social Media Manager Salary
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers