Social media managers lead an organisation's social media strategy in order to boost visibility and customer and client engagement
As a social media manager, you'll manage an organisation's online presence by developing and implementing their social media strategy.
You'll lead campaigns and projects across a range of social media channels, producing engaging content, analysing usage data, building client relationships and facilitating customer service.
Social media strategies often integrate both organic (free content, such as posts, photos, videos, blogs and memes) and paid (advertising) strategies.
Social media management can be a distinct role in larger organisations and is sometimes known as social media coordination. In small and medium-sized companies, the role may be combined with other marketing and communications responsibilities. In agencies, the term social media account manager is often used.
Job activities vary to a certain extent depending on, for example, the size of the company you work for. For example, in larger companies you may have more of a strategic role, whereas in smaller companies you may be more hands-on.
However, as a social media manager, you'll typically need to:
- design and deliver creative and engaging social media strategies
- manage the day-to-day handling of all social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, Snapchat, Tumblr and YouTube, adapting content to suit different channels and audiences
- oversee, plan and deliver content across different platforms using scheduling tools such as Sprinklr, Hootsuite, Buffer, Asana and Later
- create and/or coordinate original and engaging multimedia content across multiple social platforms
- develop, launch and manage new competitions and campaigns that promote your organisation and brand
- form key relationships with influencers across social media platforms
- undertake audience research
- manage and facilitate social media communities by responding to social media posts and developing discussions
- monitor, track, analyse and report on performance on social media platforms using tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Insights
- identify consumer trends to help with planning social media campaigns
- optimise content to further encourage community interaction and engagement
- research and evaluate the latest tools and techniques in order to find new and better ways of measuring social media activity
- analyse competitor activity
- recommend improvements to increase performance
- set targets to increase brand awareness and increase customer engagement and loyalty
- manage, motivate and coach junior staff such as social media executives or assistants
- manage and track budgets for social media activities
- educate other staff on the use of social media and promote its use within your company (in-house roles)
- encourage collaboration across teams and departments
- regularly liaise with clients via telephone, email, conference calls or face-to-face (agency roles).
- As an assistant or junior social media manager your starting salary is likely to be between £20,000 and £28,000, depending on your experience.
- Social media managers typically earn between £25,000 and £45,000.
- With substantial experience, in roles such as head of social media, your salaries can range from £50,000 to in excess of £60,000.
- According to the Major Players 2022 Salary Survey, freelance rates for social media managers typically range from £225 to £325 a day. For more senior roles, such as social media strategist or head of social, this can rise to around £300 to £400 per day. Rates vary depending on your experience, reputation and location.
Salaries vary depending on a range of factors including your location, the sector you work in, the type of organisation you work for (e.g. agency or in-house), your experience, and the success of your social media campaign activities.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
You'll usually work normal office hours, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may work longer hours, including evening and weekend work, if working to a campaign deadline.
Full-time work is common, although part-time work and contract work is available, particularly if freelance. If you work on a freelance basis, you may work longer hours depending on the needs of your clients and the amount of work you're prepared to take on.
There are also opportunities for hybrid working - split between home and the office.
What to expect
- You'll usually be office based but may sometimes travel to meet clients or attend relevant networking events and conferences.
- Opportunities exist across the UK but tend to be located in major cities and towns, particularly jobs with larger agencies.
- Flexible working patterns and some home-working may be possible. Self-employment or freelance work is possible with experience.
- The role can be challenging, as social media and the wider digital marketing industry is a continuously changing and fast-paced sector, but also rewarding.
There are no set qualifications for becoming a social media manager, although many entrants have a degree, and some employers require this. It's open to graduates from any discipline, but the following subjects may be particularly useful:
- business management
- marketing (particularly digital and social media marketing)
- media and communications
- public relations.
Employers often view personal qualities, existing knowledge and experience as equally important as a degree.
It's also possible to get into social media management by taking an advanced (Level 3) digital marketer apprenticeship or a Level 6 digital marketer integrated degree apprenticeship. You could also take a Level 4 digital community manager higher apprenticeship. Apprenticeships combine paid work as an apprentice with part-time academic study. Search Find an apprenticeship for opportunities.
Your first role is likely to be at junior or assistant level and you'll work your way up from there. It's also common to move into this role after gaining experience in marketing, PR or advertising.
Although not essential, you can study for a relevant postgraduate qualification in areas such as:
- digital and social media marketing
- social media and digital communication.
You'll need to have:
- a solid understanding of the use of a range of social media platforms, particularly in relation to advertising/branding and customers
- strong copywriting and editing skills suitable for each platform, from knowing how to write a successful tweet to using effective storytelling techniques
- knowledge and understanding of algorithms and search engine optimisation
- creative skills for contributing new and innovative ideas
- strong communication and people skills for articulating ideas to colleagues and clients
- leadership qualities to lead and motivate a team
- excellent teamworking, collaboration and networking skills
- organisational skills, with the ability to prioritise and work across multiple projects
- project and campaign management skills
- the ability to work well under pressure in order to meet deadlines
- skills in data analysis and interpreting statistics
- online community management and customer service skills to strike the balance between publicity and stimulating direct discussion with potential and actual customers
- an eye for detail and the ability to work accurately
- motivation and commitment.
The digital marketing sector, which includes social media roles, is a popular career choice, so relevant experience is expected by the majority of employers.
You can start building experience by developing a strong online presence and personal brand across a number of social media channels. Writing a good quality blog, and using multimedia tools such as videos, photos and infographics can help you build up a good following. Track the impact of your posts as evidence of your effective social media communication.
To stand out, you'll need to show that you are able to use and manage social media channels well on a professional level. Look out for paid social media placement years or summer internships, which are sometimes available with large companies.
You could also try directly contacting the marketing departments of companies, digital marketing/social media agencies and charities speculatively to ask about their work experience opportunities.
You can also look for social media voluntary work or projects that can provide experience of developing, writing and editing engaging communications for different channels and audiences. For a database of UK volunteering opportunities, see Do IT.
As social media is used as a significant part of a wider marketing strategy, experience gained in other related roles, such as design, marketing or communications, is also useful.
Find out more about the different kinds of work experience and internships that are available.
In-house opportunities, working exclusively for one organisation, are normally found in medium to large organisations across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. You can find opportunities in a diverse range of industries such as retail, higher education and even independent inquiries set up by the government.
You could also work for an agency managing social media for a number of clients. Agencies can specialise in social media or have a broader remit such as digital marketing or PR. Freelance work is possible with experience.
Look for vacancies at:
Social media manager jobs are also advertised in the national press and on LinkedIn.
It's important to keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career as social platforms and channels evolve. You can do this by taking short courses in new technologies and tools, and attending events and webinars.
You can work towards professional qualifications through relevant professional bodies, such as the:
Although many of these courses may help professional development, the IDM Professional Certificate in Social Media may be particularly relevant.
Joining a professional body, such as the IDM or CIM, can increase your status as an industry professional and offer a range of benefits. These typically include the chance to attend events, take part in mentoring schemes and gain access to webinars to keep you up to date with relevant trends.
You can also study at postgraduate level to further develop your skills and knowledge.
You may start as a junior social media manager, assisting a more senior manager. At this stage , you're likely to have a more task-oriented focus, managing and engaging directly with online communities, rather than a strategic or analytical one.
As your career develops, however, you will take on more strategical responsibility, which includes designing, overseeing and analysing social media campaigns, and delegating work to more junior staff.
With the right mix of skills and experience, you could move into a social media management role with a larger company or progress into a more senior role such as:
- senior social media manager
- head of social media
- social media strategist.
You could also consider moving into senior roles with a broader digital communications remit.
The social media and digital marketing sector is fast-changing, so it can be difficult to predict how social media jobs will evolve in the future.
Find out how Phoebe became a digital engagement apprentice at BBC Bitesize.