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 a strategy, producing good content, analysing usage data, facilitating customer service and managing projects and campaigns.

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.

Responsibilities

As a social media manager, you'll need to:

  • develop creative and engaging social media strategies
  • manage the day-to-day handling of all social media channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube, adapting content to suit different channels
  • oversee, plan and deliver content across different platforms using scheduling tools such as Sprinklr, Hootsuite, Asana and Olapic
  • create engaging multimedia content (and/or outsource this effectively) across multiple platforms
  • develop, launch and manage new competitions and campaigns that promote your organisation and brand
  • form key relationships with influencers across the 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
  • research and evaluate the latest trends 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
  • manage, motivate and coach junior staff such as social media executives or assistants
  • manage a budget 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).

Salary

  • As an assistant or junior social media manager your starting salary is likely to be between £19,000 and £25,000, depending on your experience.
  • More experienced social media managers typically earn between £30,000 and £40,000.
  • With substantial experience, your salary can increase to £60,000 or more.

Freelance rates vary depending on experience, but typically range from £15 to £25 per hour.

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.

Working hours

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.

What to expect

  • You're likely to find the role challenging but rewarding, as social media and the wider digital marketing industry is a continuously changing and fast-paced sector.
  • 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, particularly jobs with larger agencies.
  • Flexible working patterns and some home-working may be possible. Self-employment or freelance work is possible with experience.

Qualifications

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 can be particularly helpful:

  • advertising
  • business management
  • journalism
  • marketing (particularly digital marketing)
  • media and communications
  • public relations.

Employers often view personal qualities, existing knowledge and experience as equally important to a degree.

It's also possible to get into social media management by taking an advanced (Level 3) digital marketing apprenticeship or a digital marketing 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.

It's likely your first role will 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.

If you have a degree, you can work towards a relevant postgraduate qualification in areas such as:

  • business intelligence and social media
  • digital and social media marketing
  • social media and interactive technologies.

Skills

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 team working, collaboration and networking skills
  • organisational skills, with the capacity 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.

Work experience

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 social media 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. The UK's national volunteering database Do-it is a useful resource when searching for opportunities.

As social media is used as a significant part of a wider marketing strategy, experience gained in other related marketing roles could be relevant.

Employers

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:

Professional development

It's important to keep your skills and knowledge up to date throughout your career as communication platforms evolve, and new and updated tools emerge. Keeping up to date with technological developments will help you to stay current and best able to work effectively for your clients.

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 is particularly relevant.

Joining a professional body 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 take study at postgraduate level to further develop your skills and knowledge.

Career prospects

Social media management is a relatively new role and there is no fixed career structure. Nevertheless, you could progress in the first ten years to managing social media for larger companies or move into more senior management roles such as head of social media. You could also consider moving into senior roles with a broader digital communications remit.

Due to the fast-changing and developing nature of the social media and digital marketing sector, it can be difficult to predict what will happen to social media jobs in the future. Understanding how to use the increasingly complex analytical tools used by social media platforms, as well as having a thorough knowledge of both organic and paid social media marketing strategies, could help you progress.

Find out how Phoebe became a digital engagement apprentice at BBC Bitesize.

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