Oct 22, 2021

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Social Media Manager?

by Digital Marketing Institute

Like any senior marketing role, becoming a good Social Media Manager needs a wide range of skills to create engaging social content that converts as many followers as possible into loyal customers.

If you're an aspiring Social Media Manager but aren’t sure where to start, this post will help you to identify the essential skills you should hone for a successful career in social media management.

What is a Social Media Manager?

Typically, a Social Media Manager is the person in an organization who is trusted with monitoring, executing, filtering, and measuring the social media presence of a product, brand, corporation or even individual. 

A social media manager is often called the ‘voice of the company’.” The role may also be referred to as ‘Community Manager’ (although this title has become slightly outdated) or ‘Digital and Social Media Manager’. 

What Do Social Media Managers Do?

Social Media Managers create and maintain brand promotions, company information, and marketing campaigns for their company across several social media networks. Use a digital marketing campaign checklist to make sure your content is on track.  

They also know the best social media metrics to focus on and use free or paid tools and respond to questions and comments according to the company’s voice and guidelines. Social Media Managers work daily to produce new content, constantly innovating to push new ideas and formats and measuring how well those ideas perform.

Social Media Managers may report to a Social Media Director (in larger organizations) or the Head of Content or brand. They work with other creative groups such as marketing and public relations, as well as the sales department, to drive lead generation campaigns that the sales team can convert into revenue. A Social Media Manager is expected to keep up with new trends along with company and industry news.

An in-demand role, Social Media Manager positions typically require a bachelor’s degree in marketing, public relations or similar. According to Glassdoor, Social Media Managers earn an average salary of over $46,000 in the U.S.

The role is fast-paced and varied involving many tasks in the space of a day! Some of the tasks a Social Media Manager might do are:

  • Create content for multiple platforms - What tips are used to expand your reach on Facebook, won’t necessarily work on Instagram. Look at what content will work for each platform e.g video, gif, infographic, blog etc. 
  • Monitor social analytics - You need to check what campaigns are working (or not working) across channels so your time and money is going in the right places to the right people. 
  • Devise a social network strategy - You may need to create a campaign from scratch to promote a sale or new product. 
  • Measure and prove ROI - Set measurable goals for a new campaign across relevant channels and create a report to track performance. Use a social media campaign calculator to meet your objectives at the right cost.  
  • Schedule social posts - Each platform has an ‘ideal’ time to post content. Scheduling ahead of time helps reduce workloads and ensure content is posted when you’re asleep, but your audience aren’t!  
  • Find relevant curated content - Some of your social posts should reflect world events or developments that matter to your audience. So, do some research and share third-party content that will resonate. 
  • Engage with your audience - The point of your social media is to build engagement. So, respond to any comments and deal with customer queries.
  • Review and populate your content calendar - In such a fast-paced world, you need to plan your content. Populate your social media calendar for days or even weeks ahead to stay on top of things.  

These are just a few examples of tasks that you may need to do. But remember, each day can be different, so keeping on top of your content calendar and social campaigns is crucial to online success. 

An online social media course can steer you in the right direction and help you gain advanced skills to get promoted to management!

7 Skills You Need to be a Great Social Media Manager

Now that you know what the role of a Social Media Manager involves, here are some of the skills you’ll need to do your best in this role.

1. Writing

Social media managers do a lot of writing, sometimes more than a dozen posts each day. Plus, each social network requires a slightly different style of writing. Linkedin, for example, requires a more professional tone, while Facebook is more light and fun. SEO copywriting knowledge is also very helpful to know about. (More on this later!)

You must be able to create messages that are quickly understood by your brand’s audience and promote a positive sentiment. In essence, through writing the Social Media Manager should enhance their brand and become ‘the voice’ of the company.  Some important types of writing include:

  • Short and effective headline writing
  • Engaging introductions
  • Video and image captions
  • Structured text for easy reading (because consumers will skim and scan subtitles, bullet points and numbering are key!)

2. Research

Social media managers must stay up-to-date with the ever-changing world of social and digital media. This includes new measurement/analytics tools, industry and world trends, and tracking what you competitors are doing, even on a daily basis. 

Great Social Media Managers set up Google Alerts on popular topics and use tools like Feedly, Ahrefs and BuzzSumo to keep up with trending content. The Twitter Trends sidebar and the TikTok ‘Discover’ tab are useful, while hashtag research can also help.

3. SEO Knowledge

Though SEO is often considered a separate department within organizations, that way of thinking is disappearing as SEO has become an integral part of content marketing and social media.. 

In fact, SEO can have a great impact on your social media content. A good Social Media Manager knows this and strives to write SEO optimized copy on social networks. When you embrace SEO as part of your strategy, you can attract a larger audience with an interest in your products or services, leading to more potential customers. 

When thinking about combining SEO and social media, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you understand the connection between exposure on social media and increased rankings in the SERPs?
  • Do you understand long-tail and short-tail keywords for SEO optimization? Use this infographic to find out the 5 steps of keyword research. 
  • How will you promote your blog content on social media?
  • Do you know what type of content lends itself to improving SEO?
  • Do you know how driving traffic to your company’s website impacts revenue?

4. Social Media Expertise

It may seem obvious, but a Social Media Manager needs to have great social media skills! Although these can be learned over time through research and experimentation, if you’re aiming for a job at a large company, you’ll need a few years of experience under your belt. 

The type of knowledge you’ll need to outshine your competitors includes:

  • Knowing what type of content works best on what platform
  • Understanding the different days and times and days that work best on each platform 
  • Understanding how to optimize platform-specific content
  • Knowledge of social media analytics and performance 
  • Ability to engage an audience through social posts using the best free audience listening tools on the market

The graphic below shows the types of content that marketers believe are the most valuable for achieving their goals on social media. 

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Social Media Manager?

5. Customer Services 

When 47% of customers prefer brands that offer strong social media customer service, Social Media Managers need to make sure they have the skills to match. 

Customers often look to social media accounts for help with answering questions about products and services, and if nobody is there to answer those questions (even on nights and weekends!), their impressions of that brand will likely sour. A successful Social Media Manager understands that your social media presence is your brand’s face and voice online. So, everything they say or do on social platforms is a representation of the brand. 

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Social Media Manager?

Here are some stats on the importance of customer service and social media.. Highlights include:

  • 70% of people expect to message businesses more in the future for customer service queries 
  • Digital customer service interactions will increase by 40% in 2021.
  • 60% of internet users say that bad customer service is a concern when making an online purchase.

While the role of Social Media Manager is often defined as 9-to-5, individuals should be available to respond to comments and questions at any time. Most Social Media Managers access their company accounts on their mobile devices so they can respond when necessary. 

If there’s no one to take over social media while you’re on vacation or out sick, you may still be on the hook--even when you schedule posts ahead of time.

What Skills Do I Need to Be a Social Media Manager?

6. Visual Intelligence

While a lot of the content you’ll put on social media will be written, visual content is also crucial. The right video or photo can be shared hundreds or even thousands of times, and you need to understand how to create platform specific social media content. 

It’s valuable for Social Media Managers to have a knowledge of design to create visually appealing graphics to complement your posts. Know Your Meme can be helpful in keeping up with daily development of new memes (if appropriate for your company).

Video is also an essential component of your social media strategy, so if you can gain skills in that area, it will be extremely helpful. As Hootsuite explains, a good Social Media Manager will “know great video when they see it, and most importantly have a firm grasp of social video trends and how they fit into each major network.”

With the meteoric rise of visual platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, the quality of your videos is hugely important. Make sure you use social media for storytelling to speak to your audience alongside a clear, concise message about your brand. 

7. Be Adaptable

Flexibility is important in any marketing role, but even more so in social media management. The social media landscape moves so quickly that being adaptable is an absolute necessity. 

It’s not enough to be able to schedule posts. You must be able to try out new features and change things up based on trends and the continual testing and analytics that you should be running on your posts. 

Once you have the analytics in front of you, you also need the flexibility to try new things to make your social media work best for you. A/B testing (writing posts in multiple ways, with different images) can help you quickly determine which types of images and copy work for your company - and which aren’t. Use this beginner’s guide to A/B testing so you can optimize your approach. 

Are you looking for the best social media course online?

Become a successful social media manager that knows how to rock social. Our Specialist Diploma in Social Media Marketing can help you learn everything you need to know to succeed. Take the first step today to become a Certified Social Media Marketing Specialist with the best in the business! 

First published August 2017, Updated October 2021

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