What is a Social Media Manager and What Do They Do?

Dec 12, 2023

“Oh, you’re a social media manager? So, you just post stuff on Facebook all day?”

It might sound kind of ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how often people who work in social media hear implications like that.

If there were one word to describe working as a social media manager, it’d be “complicated.”

Each platform also has its own unique audience, expectations, and preferred content styles so creativity is key.

Social media workers also wear more technical hats, dealing with metrics, KPIs, and ROI.

Oh, and we haven’t even dug into the complexities of paid ads for targeted audiences or integrating other platforms yet.

What a social media manager does day to day totally depends on the company and job. Let’s dig in…

What is a Social Media Manager?

A social media manager controls the pages of brands or organisations. They function as the face of the brand on social media, essentially.

What Do Social Media Managers Do?

In short, quite a lot.

A social media manager’s daily job totally depends on the size of the business they manage, the audience, and social media platforms.

Common work as a social media manager includes:

  • Researching the brand’s audience and their unique interests.
  • Developing a social media strategy and content calendar.
  • Creating infographics, memes, and engaging graphics.
  • Creating video or coordinating with the social media video producer.
  • Curating content from other relevant (non-competitor) pages and websites.
  • Maintaining the brand’s distinct voice across all social media platforms.
  • Replying to comments, responding to messages, setting up messenger reply bots, and interacting with other pages.
  • Keeping the brand’s profile pages up to date with current CTAs, promotions, descriptions, and SEO.
  • Optimising posts to show up in the platform’s search results or discover pages with keywords and hashtags.
  • Analysing engagement across each platform and delivering results to stakeholders in understandable graphs, charts, and spreadsheets.
  • Proving how social media activity is directly tied to sales and ROI.
  • Integrating customer data from other platforms like other social media sites, email, and website traffic.
  • Developing targeted audience segments for relevant paid ads.
  • Managing a social media paid ad budget and using it efficiently.
  • Finding and reaching out to influencers.
  • Managing relationships with influencers.

As you can see, managing a single brand’s social media page even on only one platform is more than a full-time job – and certainly, more than just posting.


What Skills Do Social Media Managers Need?

It takes a special kind of person to succeed as a social media manager.

On one hand, you need personable and relatable conversation skills to interact with followers and write engaging copy. On the other hand, you also need analytical and technical skills to make sense of the numbers.

Here are a few skills that almost every social media manager needs to complete their daily tasks:

  • Customer service
  • Graphic design
  • Research
  • Data analysis and statistics
  • Technology – specifically APIs and integrations
  • Psychology
  • Empathy
  • Copywriting
  • Spelling and proofreading (especially for replies and comments)
  • PR or media experience – for building partnerships with other pages and influencers

How to Work as a Social Media Manager

You wouldn’t believe how many people think someone will give them a job just because they’re good at social media from their personal accounts.

Don’t get me wrong, a successful personal page is a great place to start learning about social media marketing. But you certainly need more than engagement and viral content to manage business pages.

Someone considering a degree might pick communication or marketing as a major and choose a school that offers social media classes or minors.

School isn’t everything though. In fact, the most important social media skills come only from experience and good old-fashioned trial and error.

Folks without college degrees still have plenty of routes for finding work as a social media manager. Start by building a page for a specific niche audience across different platforms to learn how each app works. Familiarise yourself with all the tools, paid ad targeting, and maintaining a voice.

Coursera and HubSpot both offer classes to expedite your marketing skills as they relate to social media.

Once you feel ready, reach out to friends who own businesses or local business owners to offer your services free of charge so you can build experience. Once you’ve built a portfolio, you can apply for work at larger companies as a social media manager.

How Much Do Social Media Managers Make?

Social media managers work stressful jobs, so they tend to make decent money as far as marketing jobs go. The average social media manager in the United States earns about $50k a year as base pay.


Your salary depends on the company and the responsibilities involved. Landing a job at Amazon, for example, will get you closer to $80k while working for a small business might be closer to $35k.

What Job Opportunities are Available for a Social Media Manager?

Well, lots!

For starters, global social media ad spend surged by 56.4% in the third quarter of 2020. Aside from certain industries, most companies show no signs of slowing down their digital marketing presence, and social media is a key component of that.

You don’t necessarily need to manage everything associated with a brand’s social media accounts either. Larger companies tend to hire several social media managers for individual tasks.

Some common roles include:

  • Graphic designer
  • Video producer/editor
  • Copywriter
  • Customer service
  • Community manager
  • Ad specialist
  • HR representative
  • Strategy manager
  • Data analyst

Instead of doing it all, you’ll work together as a team to pull off a successful social media strategy. Smaller companies, on the other hand, might need someone to cover everything.

Why Should You Hire an Agency to Be Your Social Media Manager?

Putting the face of your brand in the hands of strangers can sound scary but it might just be the best marketing decision you ever make. You get flexibility, expertise, and results.

Pros of Hiring a Social Media Agency

Hiring an agency to manage your social media is generally the most cost-effective option. With an agency, you have access to an entire team of social media experts and media creators who really get the ins and outs of every social media platform.

An awesome agency takes time to understand your brand and audience so they can treat it like their own.

A social media agency will deliver high-quality media content and they won’t be afraid to suggest bold exciting ideas if they think it will work for your audience.

Plus, you can seamlessly scale with an agency. Try new platforms. Publish new types of content and media. Test better ad campaigns. Your options are endless, and your risk is minimal.

Cons of Hiring a Social Media Agency

It’s really on you to do your research into an agency you plan to hire.

Any social media agency worth hiring will proudly display their past campaigns and partners on their website for all to see. They want to show you the work they’ve done before you even think to ask.

Otherwise, you risk hiring an agency with scant experience or passion for the job – much less your brand’s mission.

Lacklustre agencies won’t take the time to understand who your brand is, what you represent, and who your audience is. Don’t forget, this is the face of your brand we’re talking about. A bad social team can totally destroy your brand’s reputation.

Take this Applebee’s tweet:

The viral screenshot appears to be real as there’s currently a deleted response.

You’ll end up hiring someone in-house or another agency to fill the gap and repair any damage they cause.

Bear in mind, even with hiring in-house, there’s no way to guarantee these social media faux pas won’t happen.

Why Should You Hire an Individual to Be Your Social Media Manager?

It’s the ultimate question: Should you hire a social media manager in-house or outsource?

Let’s dissect the pros and cons of hiring in-house so you can figure out when this choice is appropriate.

Pros of Hiring a Social Media Manager In-House

Hiring a social media manager (or team) in-house gives you control.

Since your social manager will work on your team, you’ll be in direct communication with them all day, every day.

An in-house social media manager will also understand the inner workings of your brand identity, voice, and mission.

Cons of Hiring a Social Media Manager In-House

Maintaining an in-house social media team is extremely costly. You must pay competitive salaries, benefits, and perks – often for multiple people.

If someone abruptly quits or doesn’t work out, that could throw off your entire social strategy for months as you try to replace them.

An in-house hire might also be more reluctant to offer up bold ideas. There’s always a chance they’ll want to play it safe so they can please shareholders and keep their job.

Finally, hiring in-house doesn’t give you much versatility. You can’t seamlessly scale as your social media needs change or experiment with new platforms. If you only have one person managing your social presence across all platforms, they’ll already be incredibly overworked and stressed – forget taking any additional tasks on.

Yes, It’s About More Than Posting

Social media marketing jobs are equal parts fun and demanding. You need a certain level of creativity and relatability to pull off a successful presence. However, you also need technical knowledge to crunch numbers, analyse results, and develop winning strategies.

Truthfully, the savviness required is something very few people can pull off.

Arianna Gismondi
Creative Strategist

I've got experience with brands, both in agency and in-house. I specialize in researching brands, audiences, industries, cultural trends, competitors' positioning, and finding insights.

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