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Published June 20th 2024

How to Become a Social Media Manager: A Quick Guide to Success

Learn essential skills, tools, and strategies to become a successful social media manager. Discover career paths, best practices, and tips to excel in this dynamic field.

Social media managers can enjoy an exciting and rewarding career due to the industry's continuous growth – yet it can take years to master the role.

More companies are investing in social media professionals every year and there is high demand for skilled social media managers who can successfully manage multiple accounts.

If you're wondering how to become a social media manager then you're in the right place.

We'll explain what you're going to need, from a deep understanding of the different social platforms to the quirks each of them possesses.

You'll have to make sure you are knowledgeable on the likes of Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), LinkedIn, and TikTok, as well as emerging social media platforms that could take the world by storm without warning.

The knowledge of multiple platforms is one thing, but you must also be highly skilled in communications because you are effectively the voice of the brand you represent.

Many social media managers overlook this duty, which is where we can help.

In this guide:

  • Understanding the role of social media managers
  • Building the foundations
  • Mastering social media platforms
  • Understanding social media platform analytics
  • Enhancing your social media skill set
  • Crafting effective social media content
  • Building and engaging online communities

Understanding the role of social media managers

First and foremost, a successful social media manager needs to develop and implement an impactful strategy that aligns with the voice and goals of the brand.

Core responsibilities

It all starts with strategic thinking. An effective social media strategy will help you cover your core responsibilities as a social media manager, including:

  • Producing engaging content
  • Managing multiple social media accounts
  • Tracking social media performance
  • Managing brand reputation
  • Building a strong social media presence

Tracking and analyzing social media data is essential for success so that you understand how well your social media marketing campaigns are performing. This will also help you understand your target audiences on a deeper level.

Ensure you are staying up to date with the latest trends and new functions that come with social media. You can do this by subscribing to industry newsletters and reading forums, which will help keep your content relevant and engaging.

Required social media skills

There are some skills all social media managers are required to have in order to be successful.

You need to be creative but also be adaptive. Creating engaging social media content is one thing, but with the ever-growing nature of social media, you need to be able to adapt to its changes and embrace them.

Data analysis is a big thing when it comes to measuring social media performance. Make sure you are comfortable with numbers and what they mean when it comes to your social media efforts, and use a tool like Brandwatch to help.

When managing multiple social media channels, you need to be time-efficient and have good time management skills to juggle multiple tasks effectively.

The last thing is strong writing skills and communication so that you can effectively interact with your potential customers as well as building external relationships with influencers to help with your social media presence. This can obviously help internally too, as you communicate your social strategy with the rest of the business.

Career path and progression

There are so many opportunities for growth for social media managers and it can open up a lot of doors.

For example, you might work as a social media coordinator, which gives you a good level experience in managing social media.

Once you have skilled up in this area, it can lead to a more senior social media manager role, where you could even lead a team of professionals and focus more on project management.

The more experience you gain, the more you can look at specific niches in the industry to specialize in. Or you could even go for a strategy-based role like a digital marketing manager or social media ads manager.

You could also look at industry-related roles too, such as public relations, search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, or email marketing.

Building the foundations

There’s a lot more to the world of social media than just being knowledgeable. if you're learning how to become a social media manager then, like with most careers, you need to form a strong background and gain necessary qualifications as well as experience.

Education and qualifications

Degrees in media and marketing are definitely worthwhile. However, if you're looking to retrain as a social media manager then you haven't missed the boat. There are online courses out there that are worth pursuing.

The Brandwatch Academy is the ideal place to learn social media manager and marketing skills in one place. Whether you're wondering how to become a social media manager or are already pretty advanced, you'll find useful content there.

Discover the Brandwatch Academy resources today and secure the education you need to become a top social media manager.

Gaining relevant experience

Experience is vital when going for jobs into the social media industry because you need evidence that suggests you can do the role.

The best way to do this is by volunteering for a social media manager role alongside your education or studies. If you have a current job alongside your studies, see if there’s any social media there that you can get involved with. Perhaps you could even start up an account and start to generate results.

Reach out to anyone you know that owns or works for small businesses and offer to help with their social media marketing. They may be grateful for the support!

Another good option is to start your own social media platform or blog and showcase what you can do there.

The more you do, the more likely you are to impress future employers and stand out against other candidates.

Mastering social media platforms

To be a good social media manager, you need to understand how all the different social media platforms operate.

They all have their own unique features with algorithms that are always changing. Great social media managers stay on top of these changes so they can create content that has the biggest impact every time.

Social media management - platform specifics

Become familiar with the likes of Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, and TikTok, and research their best practices.

In effect, they all have their own set of rules that you just need to get your head around.

This is where data also becomes important. The Meta Business Suite will show you the optimal posting times for Facebook and Instagram, for instance. This will help you understand your audience a lot more and also give you an insight on when content works best on that platform.

If you’re running a paid social media campaign, then it’s crucial to know the ins and outs of each platform’s ad policy. Become familiar with the key aspects and best practices to avoid mishaps.

Managing multiple social media accounts

It isn’t an easy task to manage multiple social media platforms so it’s important to stay organized with social media management tools.

The Brandwatch social media management tool will help you stay efficient whilst also giving you good data analytics.

What’s more, you’ll be able to schedule all your social media posts and enjoy a cross-channel inbox so you can really do everything in one place.

Understanding social media platform analytics

Once you’re in the social media world, you’ll soon understand that results are data-driven and the work you do will be backed up by that.

All social media platforms have some form of analytical tool that will help you understand audience behavior to some degree. Analyzing data like this will help shape your overall strategy and decision making.

It’s important to have key performance indicators (KPIs), to measure these results.

Platform KPIs are things such as the engagement rates, your post reach, likes on content, follower growth,, etc.

You can also utilize tools like Google Analytics which will give you a stronger understanding of your website data.

Enhancing your social media skill set

As mentioned earlier, social media is constantly evolving. It's therefore fundamental in your role as a social media manager that you stay on top of this.

Strategies for ongoing learning

There are plenty of options out there for free online courses, such as Brandwatch Academy, webinars, or and podcasts that discuss social media management and will help keep your knowledge growing.

If you're researching how to become a social media manager from scratch and want a good place to start, then LinkedIn is ideal. Follow like-minded managers in a professional setting and discuss best practices.

You might also want to consider approaching a social media manager working in the field to help mentor you.

Staying ahead of trends

Staying up to date with current trends is one of the most crucial aspects for a social media manager. Check for updates on popular platforms, join social media marketing networks, and read resources such as the Brandwatch Blog to see where the industry is evolving.

Also, don’t be afraid to experiment with social media content, either. Someone has to start a trend, so why can't it be you? Try new techniques on the various channels because you never know what trends could be next.

Crafting effective social media content

Learning how to become a social media manager isn't just about management. Content creation is another fundamental skill to master. There are three areas that social media managers need to be on top of:

  1. Content creation techniques
  2. Cohesive brand voice
  3. Scheduling

1. Content creation techniques

There’s no set blueprint when it comes to content techniques. All social platforms have different types of social media content that work better than others.

Spend time brainstorming ideas that will align with your audience and then start the process of producing engaging social media content! You should make sure you get the basics right and keep it consistent.

Your visuals should be bespoke, high-quality, and eye-catching to ensure maximum engagement.

Compelling captions will be needed to grab the audience attention when they’re scrolling their feed. Use a tool like Brandwatch to look at what others do and make notes of what works well.

A data-savvy social media manager will have no trouble discovering what's resonating with their audience.

2. Create a cohesive brand voice

Establishing what your brand voice is when developing your social media strategy will give you a stronger identity.

First, you need to define what your brand’s personality is going to look like on social media. Look at your values, who your target audience is, think of some keywords and how it relates to the industry you're in.

Develop some brand guidelines that represent the language and emotion of the brand. Brand guidelines are important to bring a level of professionalism and consistency to the brand's social media presence.

Ensure that the team you’re working with are fully trained and familiar with all this so that the brand voice goes a lot further than just you as the social media manager. You may want to bring senior leaders into this conversation to ensure they agree on the direction.

3. Scheduling and publishing

When posting social media content, scheduling posts ahead of time is a crucial aspect to your job as a social media manager.

It will make your time far more efficient and ensure that all channels are fully up to date with a consistent level of content. This keeps your audience engaged and minimizes potential loss of followers.

To do this effectively, you should implement a social media content calendar to plan content at least a month in advance. It will help you map out future events so that you don’t miss anything.

With audience analytics, you will have a better understanding of your target consumer's behavior and how frequently they engage. This will determine how frequently you should be posting; enough to keep the audience engaged but not so much that it overwhelms.

Consistency in the visuals of your social media content, as well as the posting frequency, is crucial because the audience love familiarity. Of course, as well as consistency you'll want to ensure your content is high quality too! Don't post just for the sake of it.

Keep the social media content calendar flexible because things change all the time, and if you work in an industry where breaking news or urgent updates occur, then you need to adapt to that.

Building and engaging online communities

There are many ingredients a social media manager should consider when trying to build a strong online community.

Creating highly relevant content

Social media content you produce needs to be engaging, yes, but it also must have a good level of relevance to the user.

You should stay in the loop with current affairs and look to incorporate any big nationwide or world events into your content to develop a deeper connection with the audience.

Cultivating brand advocacy

Utilize user-generated content (UGC) where appropriate, to showcase the passion your audience has for the brand.

Reposting testimonials and experiences from your audience will generate more credibility for the brand but also encourages other users to advocate your brand.

Responding to followers

Replying to messages, comments, and posts from followers plays a huge role in social media management.

Smart social media managers will make it a priority throughout the working week to spend dedicated time on this because it establishes a loyal social media community.

Of course not all feedback will be positive, but the negative comments should not be ignored either. Respond to them in a professional, respectful manner that shows you are looking to resolve it.

Just by showing empathy, it can make the audience respond much better.

Moderating conversations

Not all social media posts and comments may be directed at the brand itself, but you should moderate online conversations where your brand is involved and ensure that they are respectful.

Create clear guidelines when interacting on your social media platforms so that your followers know where they stand.

If any abusive or disrespectful happens, make sure you follow your pre-set plan with appropriate actions and address what's happening in a timely manner.

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