Overseeing an organization’s social media campaigns and marketing efforts is becoming more important. Companies are beginning to understand the branding and marketing value that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube have.

Social media managers are “responsible for being the brand on social media,” Sprout Social says. “They create content, craft copy for posts, respond to comments, answer questions and much more as the brand. Social media managers, more often than not, deal with people who have a relationship with, or have heard of, the brand.”

As businesses devote more time and money to social media, career opportunities are expected to increase for those who want to pursue a career in this new media form.

How to Become a Social Media Manager

There is a caveat to the social media manager role and the career choice of social media in general. Social media is a relatively new field in the context of communication and public relations. Businesses are now just starting to realize how central and powerful social media is for their goals. This merely adds to the growth of this career field.

Versatility is part of this career field. There are many different roles that come with different expectations and responsibilities based on the company and size of the social media community. The same career title at five different companies could look dramatically different, contributing to the excitement of social media career opportunities.

Typical requirements for entering social media management include the following.

  Desired education often involves a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

  Deep knowledge of social media channels and reporting tools. Specifics will depend on the company. For instance, a small clothing retailer may value networks like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Vimeo, while a more traditional business may utilize Facebook and Twitter.

  Demonstrated success with running social media campaigns. Some companies will look for experience handling accounts with a certain number of followers.

Note that this job title refers to a management-level position. It can be helpful to see how “social media manager” plays into the overall career path of professionals in the field.

Social Media Manager Infographic

Social Media Manager: Career Path

Entry-level and mid-level

Typical job titles include: social media specialist, social media coordinator and social media strategist

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Roles like social media specialist build a brand’s reputation and communicate with the public through social media platforms by posting text, images or videos that spark conversation relevant to the industry or company.

“I make sure all of our social platforms are telling stories about our museum that people can relate to,” Lanae Spruce says about her experience at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, where she now serves as manager of social media and digital engagement. “You never know what to expect, especially when dealing with online content. A fun hashtag might pop up and, if appropriate, we find ways to respond and share our content.”

Entry- and mid-level roles introduce a wide range of skills and competencies. Many positions involve:

  Knowledge of various social media platforms

  Comfort with using various networking tools, such as ones that post messages to several social media accounts

  The ability to respond to criticism and positive feedback

  The ability to carry out cohesive marketing strategies and campaigns

  Awareness of current events, the brand and various marketing tools and platforms

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Management-level

Typical job titles include: social media manager and digital marketing manager

Education: Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree

Professionals with social media experience can pursue management-level positions in social media. Or, because they’ve worked with so many areas in marketing (including copywriting, design/graphics, video production and analytics), professionals can move on to other management-level positions in digital marketing.

An increase in responsibility marks these roles. Professionals in this stage of their career will assume more responsibility for developing strategies that will impact the company’s marketing efforts. Having past experience in social media and various areas of marketing enables specialists to move into managerial roles that capitalize on their skills.

Director-level

Typical job titles include: social media director, communication director and director of digital marketing

Education: Bachelor’s degree or master’s degree

At this level, professionals oversee social media campaigns, branding and employees. Depending on the size of the company, the social media director may or may not have much involvement with actually carrying out strategies and campaigns.

Similar to the management-level stage of a social media professional’s career, individuals at the director-level stage of their career may pursue director-level opportunities in other areas of digital marketing. Social media exposes professionals to multiple areas of marketing; a social media manager could pursue employment as a director of digital marketing or a specific area such as pay-per click (PPC) advertising or video production.

Social Media Manager Salary

Salary will vary based on the social media manager’s education and experience, as well as on the size and prominence of the employer’s social media community.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is not available for social media managers. The BLS groups social media specialists with other types of public relations specialists, which include titles like digital engagement specialist, social media strategist and online community manager. The median annual wage for public relations specialists is $58,020.

Sprout Social found that salaries can reach up to and beyond $70,000 for social media managers at larger companies like Google, Electronic Arts and Samsung Electronics.


Advancing Your Career in Social Media

Companies are better understanding the value that social media has on their branding and marketing efforts. Due to this and the rise in social media use for consumers, career opportunities in social media should continue to rise.

Because social media is so new, “in many industries and within many companies, there is no defined social media career path,” according to MarketerGizmo. Professionals in social media need to be prepared with the knowledge and skills to excel in this exciting field, as well as related areas of marketing and communication.

Notre Dame of Maryland University’s online master’s in contemporary communication helps students develop their skills in emerging media forms like social media. Graduates learn how to apply critical analysis, creative insights and technological competence in their career, so they are prepared for positions in social media management, PR, organizational communication and more. The program takes place in a fully online learning environment.