You have probably seen job listings looking for the next great “social media ninja” or “Facebook guru.” And while that job title might sound like a lot of fun, serving as a social media manager is no easy task. Knowing how to use Facebook or Twitter is not nearly enough to succeed; social media managers need a broad range of skills to manage and promote their companies.
Here is an overview of what a career in social media entails:
- Content Creator: Despite all of the fun cat memes, when it comes to business, valuable and unique content is essential to a social media account’s success. Moreover, you cannot just slap the same text or images across all platforms; each account needs very specific and tailored content for it to work. One of the biggest rules in social media is that you should not talk about yourself, meaning, the company’s social media pages should not be promotional. They should have truly useful, entertaining or informative content for viewers. Social media managers write new posts, scour the internet to curate content followers might enjoy and ensure the pages constantly have fresh and new content. Additionally, they need to have a foundation in search engine optimization (SEO) to get content ranked and noticed.
- Scheduler: With all of the content, the social media manager needs to schedule it carefully. Using tools like Hootsuite or Buffer, they will set up a calendar so that fresh posts go up every day. By posting all at once, they can then focus on other areas of social media management, such as moderating comments or connecting with social media leaders. Of course, they have to stay on top of current events. If a national disaster occurs and the manager has a silly cartoon planned to post that day, the social media manager has to be ready to cancel the scheduled posts immediately. This can be a delicate balancing act, as social media managers need to be excellent planners but also need to think on their feet.
- Graphic/Video Designer: In many startups and non-profits, social media managers are really on their own when it comes to visual content. Even in big corporations, graphic designers and videographers often don’t have time to create new material for social media constantly, so the social media manager has to do it all. Luckily, graphic tools like Canva or Snappa are a huge help, helping managers create professional-looking content quickly. And iMovie and other video apps can add effects to videos filmed right on a phone. However, even with these tools, a social media manager needs to have a good eye for what makes a visually engaging graphic and be able to identify what works on each platform.
- Advertiser: Social media is one of the most cost-effective outlets for advertising. Ads on Facebook or Twitter are relatively inexpensive, and ads can be targeted to very specific audiences. If an ad does not seem to be working, it can be paused, canceled or tweaked to reach the target customer more efficiently. Social media managers need to be able to run and decipher platform analytics to identify advertising strategies to reach their audience and adapt the advertising strategy to meet the company’s goals.
- Customer Service Manager: One of the most thankless aspects of a social media manager’s job is in customer service. They need to moderate posts, respond immediately to complaints, comments or responses, flag inappropriate questions and handle personalized messages. They have to be able to de-escalate an outraged customer and be able to address the problem or escalate it as needed. For a company with a large following, moderating the page can be a full-time job in and of itself.
How to Prepare For a Career in Social Media
Very few schools offer courses specific to social media. Some online programs offer platform-specific classes, but even those are often outdated by the time they are formed. Social media is constantly evolving. Some platforms fail and others grow. Rules and algorithms can change overnight. It is a continually shifting field.
If you are interested in a career in social media, you can learn a great deal by using different platforms on your own. However, to really succeed, a foundation in other areas can be essential. Majoring in marketing, public relations, English, graphic design or business can all help prepare you to do your role effectively. Social media managers juggle many tasks and do the work of several different departments, so a major in one of those areas can give you a broad base to draw on throughout your career.