How To Become A Social Media Manager

Do you enjoy using social media every day? While that is not the only thing that goes into being a social media manager or consultant, it does certainly help. While you will certainly need the skills and traits I have outlined below, you will also need to work very hard to be successful.

Despite the shift from traditional marketing to social media over the years, many businesses are still hesitant to put money into social media marketing. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a career, or at least a side job out of it though. Hard work always pays off in some form.

So if you’re wondering how to become a social media manager, I have attempted to put together the most comprehensive guide and list of resources to help you accomplish that goal.

What Does A Social Media Manager Do Exactly?

The day to day requirement for a social media manager or consultant (i will use the terms social media manager and social media consultant interchangeably throughout this article) can vary. While you may find that as your career progresses, you decide to focus on just 1 or 2 of these subjects, it is important to be familiar with them all when you are learning the ropes.

  • Account Setup - depending on the client, you may need to start completely from scratch. This would entail starting the social profiles across whatever platforms your client would work best in.
  • Social Media Management - This is probably what people think of most readily when talking about a social media manager. They are responsible for posting social media updates on behalf of their clients. In addition to creating the social media posts, management includes understanding the analytics of various platforms, increasing the social following and engaging with followers by asking and answering questions.
  • Social Media Audit - This involves reviewing a company or clients current social media profile or profiles. You will focus on measurable statistics at this point, like the number of followers, engagement levels with followers, and referral sources. You can then compare these metrics to those of your clients competitors to give them an idea of what their standing is in the industry.
  • Social Media Strategy - Once an audit is completed, you will begin to build a strategy. You will figure out what areas need to be improved, and how you can help to improve them. It is also important to understand what the goals of the strategy are. Is it a sales strategy, or a branding strategy? You may have a different approach depending on the goals of your clients.
  • Organic and paid social media advertising - While some clients will want to focus on organic advertising and engagement, it’s important that you understand paid advertising as well. JonLoomer.com is a great resouce for learning about advanced Facebook marketing tactics for example.
  • Content marketing - Per contentmarketinginstitute.com ‘content marketing is a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience’. A social media consultant may be able to create content marketing strategies, or if they have the writing skills and expertise within the industry, even write the content themselves.

What Skills Do You Need To Become A Social Media Manager?

  • Writing - Depending on the client, a social media consultant will be tasked with creating the content that will be shared with the public. It is important to have a strong writing background to adapt to the various audiences that you may work with.
  • Research - The social media landscape changes dramatically in short periods of time. It is imperative that you stay up-to-date with trends in your area of expertise to make sure that you are providing hte best value to your client.
  • Problem Solving - The problem may be as simple as ‘how do we reach the most potential clients for our product?’. Being able to generate ideas on how to solve a problem like that using your social media skills is very important.
  • Organizational Skills - The more clients you work with, the more important that being well organized will become. If you are working across multiple platforms, for multiple clients, it will become very easy to lose track of an issue, or a communication that you are having with a potential customer.
  • Technical Skills - While social media doesn’t necessarily focus on search results all of the time, it would be good to have some understanding of search engine optimization. If you are able to grasp the concepts of one social media platform, you will most likely be able to understand how the other work, given time and experience using them.

How to Develop The Knowledge To Be A Social Media Manager

Like most things, you learn from others that are already experts in the field you’re studying. When it comes to social media, there is a ton of information available already, even though it is a relatively new industry. These are just a few resources to build your expertise.

Read Expert Blog Posts

There are countless free resources online about how to use social media most efficiently. Social Media Examiner is probably one of the best and well known overall resources for social media expertise. For a good starting point, here is the Top 10 Social Media Blogs: The 2016 Winners post from earlier this year.

In addition to that excellent list, also consider checking out JonLoomer.com for all sorts of good information about Facebook Ads.

White Glove Social Media shares quite a bit of information on using Pinterest.

For Instagram, check out the Buffer Blog post, How to Gain A Massive Following on Instagram.

Finally, for Twitter, check out 12 Scientific Twitter Tips to Get You MORE Retweets & Followers.

A few more resources worth your time are, Danny Brown, Social Mouths, and Pamorama.

Do you have to read all of these blogs from front to back in order to be a good social media manager? Definitely not, but the more content from these experts that you can consume, and begin to take action on, the more prepared you will be to serve various clients.

Read Books About Social Media

If you get burnt out on reading too many blog posts and want to dig into something with more structure. There are plenty of good books that you can consider. Here are just a few.

Learn How To Use Automation Tools

One of the nice things about social media, and technology in general, is automation. There are tools online that allow you to schedule posts, or how to automatically like things, or follow people, among other tasks.

The different platforms all have various rules in place regarding how people can use their APIs, mostly to try and disallow spam. Essentially, you don’t want to abuse these things, but you should understand the basic tools that can make the job of scheduling posts for various clients easier.

social media automation

Two of the biggest tools are Buffer and Hootsuite. Both platforms have a free version, and then higher priced versions depending on the amount of users and activity involved. They have similarities and differences, but essentially allow someone to plan out their publishing schedules in advance, so that posts happened automatically at a later time/day.

For other tools on each of the major social media platforms, try these links.

Define Your Niche

social media niche

When it comes to the clients that you will work with, you can take two approaches.

You can either take whatever business you can get, or you can define a specific niche that you want to work in, and focus on finding clients that fit that niche.

While in the very beginning, most people will be willing to take whatever work they can get, it is typically more profitable in the long run to develop a niche.

Why? Because in addition to being an authority on social media, you can become an authority in social media for a specific group of people or businesses.

For example, if you come across a womens book club that wanted help with their social media strategy, do you think they would hire a generalist that works with anyone, or the specialist that works specifically with womens book clubs? (I have no idea if womens book clubs would ever want or need a social media strategy, but for some reason, it was the first, obscure example I could think of right now!) They are more likely to want to work with the specialist.

The sooner you can develop your niche, the better off you will typically be in the long run.

How To Find Your First Client

When you are first starting out, you really just need to get the word out in any way you can. As you get more established in your business, you’ll be able to use the strategies we’ll outline in the next section. For now, it’s probably good old fashioned grunt work to land your first client, or first couple of clients. Here are a few ideas for finding your first social media clients:

  • Craigslist - This may be a low odds play here, but it’s free, and you can just copy and paste the same ad each week.
  • UpWork & Freelancer - Freelance marketplaces where you can bid on jobs. While there is an abundance of any type of job on these sites, the pay is probably not going to be great, so use this as a place to get started, and maybe find some short term clients you can turn into longer term ones.
  • Announce your new career on your own social media pages. Do you have your own Facebook and LinkedIn pages? Well then make sure everyone on there knows you are the go-to person for social media strategies from now on. Do they need help, or know someone that needs help? Good old word of mouth advertising here.
  • WeWorkRemotely - I can’t comment on the application and hiring process through this site, but I have seen social media jobs posted pretty consistently here in the past.
  • Cold Outreach - It’s scary, and not a lot of fun. But if you exhaust all other avenues of networking or using freelance and job board sites, start calling small business directly and asking if they need help. If you really want to get your feet wet, it may even make sense to do a little free work to build up your skills and develop a source that can recommend the quality of your work.

How To Help Potential Clients Find You

Once you have landed your first clients, it’s time to make it easier for your future clients to find you, rather than you keep hunting for them. You can do this in a couple of ways.

Online Branding

  • Setup a website - Register a domain name, that will be your professional website. You can begin to build this out now that you have a few clients. If alright with the clients, you may even start to build a portfolio on your site.  We've had really good luck working with Namecheap for supporting our website.
  • Have a professional email address - If you have your own site, you should be able to get a professional email address to go with it. If you want to be taken seriously, socialmediakingpin2000@ some free web hosted email is not going to do the job.
  • Create your own social media pages - This one probably goes without saying, but if you are going to be a social media expert, you should be on the platforms that you work in.
  • Email marketing - This may be a bit further down the road, but you’ll want to build an email list that you can market your services to overtime. You need to realize that not every single visitor that comes to your site is at the right stage to hire you every time. But they may be in the future. Find a way to capture their email address on your site, and use a service like MailChimp (free) or ActiveCampaign (paid) to build a series of emails to send them and promote yourself.

Create Your Own Content With Your Own Thoughts

If you want to get found through Google, you will want to start publishing your own content on your website. While you may not be ready to be a social media guru like some of the folks mentioned in previous sections, you do have your own thoughts and approaches to social media by this point.

Begin to create content with your unique approach and view of things. Learn how to leverage search engine optimization, and put yourself in a position for potential clients to find you. Once you begin publishing this content, use your various social media profiles that you’ve previously established to share with your audience and engage them.

At this point, you want to be the social media manager for your own social media management business!

Creating a System

By now, you should have a couple of clients in place. If you want to be successful, you will need to stay organized, and make sure all of your clients are being tended to and happy. Because this can be difficult to do, with multiple clients, it is important that you manage your time appropriately.

If you have tasks that must be accomplished each day, find some way to track them. You could use something like Evernote, or a CRM system like Insightly. One way to keep track of all of your tasks, and get organized, is to use a content calendar.

Wrap Up

So by now, hopefully I have given you a good outline for how to become a social media manager. The last few sections may be a bit beyond the beginner level, but should give you some ideas on how you can differentiate yourself, and find your niche. With social media growing everyday, and more and more companies realizing that it is a place they need to be to find their customers, if you can provide a value, your skill will be rewarded.

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  • Updated March 22, 2017
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