Social media managers are in high demand and growing online communities for both well-known brands and small businesses.
But what does it really take to become a social media manager? You’ve come to the right place.
With insights from Later's social team, we're sharing our top tips for becoming a social media manager in 2023 — from helpful management tools to career growth opportunities.
With the right preparation and skills, you'll be well on your way to getting hired. ✅
If video is more your speed, watch our YouTube video below. Otherwise, keep reading:
Table of Contents
- What Is a Social Media Manager?
- What Do Social Media Managers Do?
- What Skills Do You Need To Become a Social Media Manager?
- How To Get Started as a Social Media Manager
- Where To Find Social Media Manager Jobs
- How Much Do Social Media Managers Make?
- Career Growth Opportunities for Social Media Managers
What Is a Social Media Manager?
At a high-level, social media managers lead the marketing strategy for a brand’s social media channels.
Scrolling TikTok after I schedule a post... it's like a reward. 😇— Later (@latermedia) April 3, 2022
What Do Social Media Managers Do in 2023?
Spoiler alert: No two social media manager roles are alike, which is what makes the job exciting.
That said, depending on their expertise and the size of their company or agency, a social media manager’s workday can cover a wide range of responsibilities.
Here are five tasks social media managers might regularly do:
#1: Social Strategy
Every viral post or successful social media campaign is a direct result of well-defined goals and objectives.
But in order to set the right social media goals, it takes a deep understanding of the brand’s target audience and competitive landscape.
At Later for example, our target audience includes social media managers, creators, and small business owners.
Our goal is to help them stay on top of social trends, offer tips and easy hacks, and highlight tools that'll make their lives easier (aka Later's social media management platform).
With that goal in mind, we create content that’ll resonate with our target audience, and perform regular audits to see what’s working (and not working).
TIP: Identifying and building a brand's content pillars play a key role in social strategy too.
#2: Content Creation
When it comes to content creation, social media managers play an essential role.
TIP: Actively using different social media platforms and staying on top of trends is a helpful practice that’ll make content creation a lot easier.
#3: Data Analysis
Fact: Social media managers have to be well-acquainted with social media platform analytics.
Even better? Being able to find patterns within that data to inform your content strategy and tell a story.
FYI: Weekly, monthly and/or quarterly reports detailing social media results are a typical part of the job. So, get comfortable with numbers!
#4: Paid Ads
In recent years, it's become more common to see some people identify as a paid social media manager or an organic social media manager.
What's the difference?
Paid social media managers focus on running ad campaigns on social platforms to generate clicks and sales, whereas organic social media managers are typically focused on creating original content to generate brand awareness and engagement.
Whether you want to stick with paid or organic, it's important to at least have an understanding of how to run ads.
"Having paid social skills has helped me immensely in my career. I’ve been able to develop my analytical skills and work closely with other teams like Demand Gen. This has given me a more holistic view of marketing,” shares Later's Social Media Manager, Christine Colling.
#5: Community Management
Social media managers are generally the first to know how customers are feeling about a brand and its product or service.
For smaller brands, a social media manager might handle all DMs and comments on their own, while larger brands might have a dedicated customer support team for social inquiries.
Either way, social media managers will often be required to interact with followers — whether it's answering a question on a TikTok video or responding to a funny Tweet the brand is tagged in.
Get a behind-the-scenes look at a day in the life of a social media manager in this 20-minute vlog:
What Skills Do You Need To Become a Social Media Manager?
Honing the necessary social media manager skills needed for the job can help bump your resumé to the top of an employer’s list.
Here’s eight skills to put into practice now:
From an Instagram caption to campaign assets for a product launch, copywriting is a highly-used skill for social media managers.
Writing captions like:— Later (@latermedia) February 18, 2022
C'mon brain think of things. C'mon brain be so smart.
Plus, given that the attention span of social media users is so low, being able to write content that elicits engagement is critical.
While this might not be a “hard skill” you list on your resumé, being curious is essential to being a social media manager.
Why? What works one month, might not work the next. So, it takes a level of curiosity and openness to dig into what's happening and then come up with solutions.
TIP: If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy constant change, social media marketing may not be the right career for you.
#3: An Eye for What Works on Social
It’s hard to quantify, but being able to identify the type of content that works on social media, along with the brands (and creators) who are thriving on different platforms is an important skill.
Paying attention to little details like aspect ratio, editing techniques, or even the use of memes, and then applying what you've learned (with your own spin on it), can help set you apart.
#4: Project Management
Social media managers often juggle multiple deadlines and collaborate with several people at a time, whether it’s clients or other team members.
Without project management skills (and knowing what to prioritize), you won’t be able to make as great of an impact on your business goals.
TIP: Later’s social team loves this Digital Project Management course from Superhi.
#5: Nimbleness or Ability to Pivot
The one constant about social media? It’s always changing.
Keeping up with industry news, current trends, and even pop culture moments will make your job easier.
when I had an idea for a TikTok trend but another creator got to it first: pic.twitter.com/Uxd4CbNwWG— Later (@latermedia) March 22, 2023
Social media managers often have to pivot their content strategies and update their content calendars, so nimbleness is a must.
#6: Graphic Design and/or Editing
While graphic design, video editing, and social media managing are very different, having basic design and editing skills can be helpful for creating quick-turnaround assets — especially if you’re a team of one.
While you don’t need to be a professional, having an eye for design will benefit your career.
#7: Crisis Management
Compared to other marketers, social media managers arguably have a better pulse on their customer’s wants, needs, and complaints.
And crisis management on any social media platform isn’t for the faint of heart.
TIP: Bookmark our resource for handling a crisis on social media: How to Manage a Social Media Crisis: A Step-by-step Guide
#8: Public Speaking
Not every role will require on-camera skills, but being comfortable on camera can give you an edge.
Plus, being able to pitch your ideas or share results in team (or client) meetings will be important for showcasing your value as a social media manager.
How To Get Started as a Social Media Manager in 2023
According to LinkedIn, social media management is the third most in-demand profession by volume of job postings.
But how exactly do you break into the field? Here are a few tried-and-tested tips:
Build a digital portfolio. Whether it’s using your own social profiles, creating a “fake” brand account, or offering to support a local brand’s social account, having a portfolio that shows your content creation skills can help you stand out.
Get an internship. If you’re still in college, taking an internship or co-op opportunity can help you get hands-on experience.
Browse job postings and attend networking events.
Network online. Use your social media accounts to connect with others in the industry, and set up coffee chats to learn about their career journeys.
Where To Find Social Media Manager Jobs in 2023
Once you’re ready to start job hunting, there are plenty of resources to find a social media manager role.
Here’s a list of places (and a couple ideas) to bookmark and make your search easier:
Pitch Yourself to Small Businesses and Local Brands
Attend Networking Events in Your City
How Much Do Social Media Managers Make in 2023?
On average, the most common social media manager salary in the US is between $70K-$80K.
There are a variety of factors that affect social media salaries — including your years of experience, the industry you work in, and your location.
However, with roles becoming more specialized by seniority and experience, the average salary range for these roles will only continue to grow.
How Much Do Social Media Managers Make as Freelancers?
There’s no one-size-fits all salary when it comes to being a freelance social media manager.
And like every role, there are pros and cons.
Greater earning potential. You’ll have the ability to set your own pricing, scale additional offerings, and outsource admin work.
Location flexibility. Want to work and travel to different cities? With freelancing, you’re not stuck in one spot. The world is your oyster.
Full autonomy over work. Your ideas and time are yours to manage as you see fit.
No workplace benefits. Say goodbye to paid vacation (or sick) days.
Inconsistent pay. Clients don’t pay on time? You’ll have to send multiple follow-up emails.
More business-related responsibilities like hiring help and managing finances.
TIP: Many social media managers take on freelance work as a side hustle first. This can be a great way to earn additional income and test the waters to see if you enjoy the freelance lifestyle before jumping right in.
With Later, you can plan, schedule, and analyze your social media content — for different platforms and different accounts. Get started today:
Career Growth Opportunities for Social Media Managers
If you think the social media marketing industry is oversaturated, think again.
Brands in almost every industry require the skills of social media managers to engage with their target audiences, grow communities, and drive traffic back to their sites.
So, when starting a career in social media, keep these specialities and role titles in mind:
#1: Social Media Coordinator
Typically (though not always) an entry-level role focused on creating and curating engaging content for platforms.
#2: Social Media Specialist
In larger companies that have social media teams, specialists often have more of a day-to-day focus on operations than social media managers do.
You might also see a specialized focus like TikTok Specialist, for example.
#3: Community Manager
A role that more broadly focuses on managing online (and sometimes offline) communities and events.
This is a great fit for those with strong customer service skills who enjoy finding creative ways to engage with a brand’s community.
#4: Social Media Manager
This is the most common title and thus, the responsibilities can be broad.
If you’re at an agency, you might be responsible for managing multiple social media accounts and overseeing both strategy and execution.
If you’re working for a larger brand, you might lead the social strategy and a team of specialists or coordinators.
#5: Social Strategist
This role typically has a bigger emphasis on strategic, often cross-collaborative initiatives to help develop and execute social strategies and campaigns across multiple channels.
#6: Paid Social Media Manager
An ad specialist or manager often focuses on PPC (pay-per-click) ad campaigns on social media.
A familiarity (and comfort) with platform ad managers, Google Ads Manager, and analytics is necessary.
#7: Director of Social
Usually the highest title ranking of a social media career (though, we have seen more seasoned professionals become CMOs too).
This role is specifically focused on high-level strategic initiatives like goal-setting, achieving KPIs (key performance indicators), and managing a team on execution.
#8: Content Marketing Manager
Plot twist: Working in social media means you possess a multitude of transferable skills that’ll work for other roles in marketing — like content (or even influencer) marketing — depending on your experience and areas of expertise.
#9: Business or Agency Owner
Congrats, you’re the CEO!
If you've gone the freelance route, you'll have the option to work as a solopreneur or scale your business to include a team of specialists.
And there you have it — everything you need to become a social media manager in 2023.
With a quickly-growing industry and ever-evolving updates on social platforms, being a social media manager can be both challenging and rewarding.
But if you’re passionate about finding creative marketing opportunities, brainstorming ideas, and being the voice of a brand, social media management could be the perfect fit for you.