This feature first appeared in the Fall 2022 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.
Social media has become a key communications and marketing medium for a wide range of entities, including corporations, small businesses, institutes, associations, governments, nonprofits, and more. This is due to its unparalleled capacity to reach the maximum number of people across the world. Organizations can no longer afford to stay away from social media.
An organization’s social media effort requires adept and judicious management if it is to be successful. It’s crucial to ensure that all engagement across social media platforms aligns with the company’s objectives. This is why more and more establishments are hiring social media specialists to devise, implement, and manage social media activity.
Social media managers are responsible for developing content strategy and managing their employer’s online presence across different social media platforms. They drive the company’s communications and marketing endeavors on social media.
This includes enhancing the organization’s visibility, communicating with all stakeholders in a unified voice, defining and monitoring the type and quality of content, assessing the effectiveness of strategy, using data analytics, and aiding customer service.
A social media manager’s area of responsibility depends on the type of organization. In large establishments, social media management is usually a distinct function — whereas in small- and medium-sized companies, it is often a part of marketing and communications. At larger organizations, it is common for social media managers to manage a team that creates and posts content and carries out other responsibilities at the manager’s direction.
All industries use social media. Hence, social media managers have a wide range of options. Some even specialize in a specific field. At present, employment opportunities are good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs for marketing managers are likely to increase by 10 percent over the period 2020-2030. (The BLS doesn’t list social media roles separately.)
A social media manager’s responsibilities and tasks depend on the size of the organization. At larger establishments, a manager might typically develop and manage strategy, and delegate specific functions to team members.
Responsibilities and tasks might include all or some of the following:
Designing and developing online strategy: The focus should be on devising a strategy to promote the brand, enhance the reputation of the company, and further organizational goals. This includes planning the type and format of content to be created and posted.
Defining guidelines for social media content and engagement: The manager is responsible for ensuring that all content posted on an organization’s social media accounts and engagement with stakeholders is in alignment with business goals. It should also be delivered in a consistent voice and tone, please customers, boost reputation, and expand the company’s reach.
Producing original and engaging content: A social media manager may create copy, videos, and images, or might oversee the development and posting of content in line with the establishment’s social media strategy.
Educating employees about social media engagement: Personnel who interact with stakeholders on company social media accounts need to be aware that they must respond to customer requests or comments in a helpful and positive tone, so as to facilitate a solution if needed and improve customer service.
Monitoring all social media activity by company staff: This is necessary in order to ensure that content published — and interactions between employees and customers and other stakeholders —aligns with the company’s goals, enhances the company's image, and maintains brand consistency.
Designing and executing social media campaigns: In order to expand reach, boost engagement, and promote the company and brand, a manager needs to create, implement, and manage engaging campaigns that resonate with existing and potential customers.
Assessing performance of social media activity: Analysing the effectiveness of content is an important part of social media management. Analytics tools can be used to evaluate the traffic on different social media platforms in order to discern the impact of posts and responses. Managers also need to report periodically to the management and marketing head.
Researching current social media trends and audience preferences: This is necessary in order to publish content that resonates with followers and identify better ways of communicating with your target audience.
Setting engagement goals and recommending new features and enhancements: Managers set goals and evaluate performance against these targets. You might set up an editorial calendar that outlines monthly sales targets and marketing initiatives. It’s also necessary to introduce new features and improvements in order to drive engagement and increase brand awareness.
Collaborating with marketing and other departments: In order to ensure that social media messaging aligns with the organization’s brand objectives, social media managers collaborate with marketing and customer service personnel.
Keeping pace with changes
Social media technology and practices change constantly. A successful social media manager needs to stay abreast of social media trends, the latest digital technologies, tools, algorithms, and current platform features and rules. It’s also important to be familiar with current design, analytics and scheduling tools.
Training and background
Most companies hiring a social media manager require a bachelor’s degree, preferably in communications, business, PR, marketing, or a related subject. Relevant work experience is also necessary for this role. Employers may require between three and five years of experience in managing social media marketing. It’s quite common for people with professional experience in PR and marketing to get into social media management roles.
An in-depth understanding of marketing strategy and the ability to connect with and engage audiences is important. A social media manager must be able to discern what works well with an audience and what doesn’t.
You need to be very familiar with different social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. These platforms have distinct characteristics and user demographics, and their own strengths and weaknesses.
You also need hands-on experience with analytics and scheduling tools. Social media listening tools include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and HubSpot. Google Analytics is a popular tool for monitoring, analyzing, and reporting. Scheduling tools include Sprinklr, Asana, Hootsuite and others.
Solid computer skills and hands-on experience with design and photo-editing software is essential to success in a social media management role. Good communication skills, including writing, as well as a feel for design are important. Good leadership and teamwork skills are essential because you would need to manage a team as well as work with sales, marketing, and other departments as required.
Some employers may require professional certifications in analytics and other relevant social media skills. Popular social media certifications include the following:
• Google Analytics Individual Qualification
• Google AdWords
• Hootsuite Social Marketing
• DMI Specialist
• PCM Digital Management
There are a number of other digital marketing certifications available. It’s advisable to research the different options and identify those that are in demand and suit your level of experience.