What Is A Social Media Manager Today?

Social Media Manager – What Do They Do?

Five years ago, who would have thought a position within a company would be dedicated to using social networks to market a brand? Fast forward to today and people are using social media to land actual jobs in social media as a social media manager.

social media manager

Social Media Then And Now

Social media has certainly come a long way from the days of MySpace and when a blog was more or less a conversation thread or a glorified diary (see “evolution of the blog” here). As social networks have increased in number, so have their users and uses. Today, social media has evolved from a communication tool among college kids to a serious marketing tool, and a vital part of marketing in virtually every business sector.

Jobs in Social MediaSocial media jobs

With this evolution came the jobs in social media. Basically, a job in social media entails learning a multitude of social networks and how best to use them for marketing purposes. Then the best networks for a particular brand must be determined based on its audience. Once that is established, the person who holds a job in social media will develop the content for those networks, post to and monitor a variety of social media networks and the blogosphere on a daily basis to increase awareness of a brand. They also often serve as a customer service representation for that brand.

Social Media Manager Becomes A Job

So what do you call that role? I call it a social media manager. It’s a combination of strategy, planning, content development, platform monitoring and analytics. It also entails staying on top of the industry and doing a lot of research. Here’s a great explanation at Social Media Today by @lpmikov of what a social media manager actually does.

Of course there are others who would disagree with that title. The job market has been inundated with fun and creative titles for the folks who do this kind of work. Search through job boards and you might find “social media ninja” or “community rockstar,” among others. While interesting and certainly destined to draw attention from job seekers, they don’t exactly explain the actual role of the job.

There are even websites like Social Media Jobs that are dedicated completely to finding a job within this field and you will find a lot of different titles. Some are focused more on strategy, others on content, still others on analytics. My thinking is that the social media manager is one that has to do everything from soup to nuts, and it could be as a consultant for many brands, or for just one brand as an employee.

I’ve dubbed myself a social media manager even though that isn’t my official title. What does it really mean? It means you live, eat, breathe and sleep social media. I don’t know what’s coming next, but there are two things I do know — it’s definitely not a 9-5 job, and it’s certainly a legitimate profession.

How serious is social media today? Well, it’s important enough that accredited universities have now begun offering degree programs:

Here’s a great breakdown of the social media degree and certificates availableout there.

So what should this tell you? Social media, and the role of the social media manager, are here to stay and should be taken seriously in today’s world.

Would You Like To Become A Social Media Manager?


Top Image courtesy of photoraidz at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chalkboard Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nancy Jean is a communications and media relations professional with over 25 years of experience in the health care industry. For nearly 12 years, she has served as a senior media relations officer for the Lifespan health system in Rhode Island. In her current role, she launched the system’s social media efforts in 2009 and now manages it for five hospitals and a women's medicine practice. She is a mom to two rescue dogs, an avid reader, and a diehard Red Sox fan.

40 comments On What Is A Social Media Manager Today?

  • In my opinion they are the people who are struggling with ROI (return on investment) and quality VS quantity. I’m telling this from my experience where as managing a team of social media people. Just like you said social media has become a job and that job just got harder in 2014. Thanks for sharing with us!
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  • The key to social media success is recognizing that your audience has varying agendas when it comes to social, and as a result, conveying multiple personalities in order to appeal to them. Being great at one isn’t enough. The social media manager is quickly becoming a crucial role within any business, since it not only functions as real-time PR, but it’s also quickly becoming the manner in which companies are getting found online
    Jitendra Vaswani recently posted..People Creating Fake Profiles, Misleading & Conning Common MassesMy Profile

  • Hi Nancy,

    Social media, social media and social media seems to be the buzz word these days. Well, if I am not wrong then social media has been existent from ages, although in different shapes and forms. Humans being social animals have always loved to interact with each other and may be, that has been one of the important reasons behind human evolution.

    Today, social media is dominating the Internet world and I am sure, the importance of social media is going to increase with time. Even if we look at the basic attributes of a blogger, we will find that interacting with our fellow community members is one of the primary area.

    Thanks for sharing your points about the increasing value of social media.
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  • Nancy,

    The social media manager is the marketing brain of the business. I think it is the point where the business will stay or go. All profit in any business come from people. Hence people skills, especially on facebook and google+, together with marketing (memes), are skills to be developed for years. Many marketers have been in the business for more than 10 years to become masters.

    Leadership skills are absolutely necessary as well.

    Thanks for this thought provoking post.
    Margarita recently posted..The $1,000 Pen | Vick Strizheus On The Language Of SuccessMy Profile

  • Hello Nancy
    Job of a Social Media Manager has now become one of the most challanging & interestiing job of the world. There was a time in the past when social media was being used just for interacing with people from all over the world and now meaning has completely been changed as it has now become the most powerful tool for almost all the businesses to advertise its product into the market. In this context, role of a social media manager becomes most important as it all depends on him/her how he/she handles those challanges which comes in the way. Thanks for sharing the post with us Nancy.
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  • you said it very well that some years back, no body have thought of such a concept.
    But, as of now, when the whole world is turning into a small global village, the importance of the social media manager is at its peak.
    Thanks for the information.

  • I knew they would start making degrees for this. Everyone thinks they are experts at social media management but not everyone can do this job it takes a lot. Glad that people are recognizing that social media is the best way to handle business now and gain new clients. Great post
    Kita recently posted..Twitter Party Details and sponsorsMy Profile

  • Hello Mrs Nancy,

    This is a nice, concise article developed with links to help you explore the domain more. I was curious to see and understand what a social media manager is.
    This is still a new domain and things are not so clear. However, I think I understood the principle and the basic tasks of a social media manager. I want to say one thing: WOW!
    It is an enormous amount of work. One single social network is huge and it is very difficult to learn everything. Even worse. It is constantly changing. Two social networks are very difficult to handle and three or four can send you to the hospital, if you use them professionally.
    In my opinion, a social media manager must master internet marketing first. Then he or she doesn’t have to know and understand everything in a social network. She just need to adapt marketing techniques to the new environment.

    Have a nice day
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  • I think this is the samw whrever you are doing a job which isn’t operational or core business. I am working in a tiny Information Management team (of two) and my manager is tearing her hair out for exactly the same reasons you describe so well in your article. Me, I’m a comic artist in my spare time and I do the job to pay the bills so I don’t care.
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  • Fascinating, Nancy.

    I often wondered what a social media manager does. I suppose different companies have different needs. But in this economy it makes sense to know as much as you can. You need to outshine the competition. In publishing, authors have taken on the role of being social media managers for their books. Many publishing houses insist that authors participate in social media bootcamps.

    Everyone should learn the nuances of social media for personal or professional reasons even if they plan on hiring someone to manage their social media campaigns.

    Thanks for sharing. Great article!
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  • I am a social media manager for a company. I’m not spending much time doing it every week, but I’m managing everything social media for them. I schedule content, and I reply to comments, and I manage campaigns. They’ve outsourced their social media job. I could probably do a lot more for them, but so far, I’ve been focusing on building relationships via social media to their customers. And, that’s been working great.
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    • Hi Jens,
      so is your job full-time? I’m not sure what you mean when you say you manage social media but they’ve outsourced the job. I’m interested in hearing just who does what. Thanks!
      Nancy Jean recently posted..The world needs more doctors like thisMy Profile

      • I have a full-time job, but for several companies. So, I am spending an hour every day for each company. I’m creating campaigns, updating their statuses, and following up on questions and feedback. This is just the start, so as soon as they get more feedback, and more information that they need to publish on social media, I think they’ll hire someone (and not outsource the job to me). I’m a solopreneur.
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  • Hello Nancy,

    Nice to meet you here on Lisa’s blog with an interesting topic 🙂 Ah… So you are from RI too.

    Woah… Technology has been revolutionizing the ways of our lives. Well, walking us toward a dynamic, easier but bit more complex lifestyle. Personally, I love the basic idea behind Social Media as a way to connect and communicate with friends online. But as you implied, Social Media is not just about connecting anymore. It’s already embedded into our lives. Isn’t it? 🙂

    When I read through programs about Social Media, it made me think for a bit Nancy 🙂 It’s gonna be more competitive in future as more heads getting in. Businesses almost need it. Competition will definitely add value by eliminating groups that doesn’t possess enough knowledge and skills about using Social Media for business. Will be more demanding and rewarding. Then, will lead to generalization 🙂

    You both have a wonderful weekend ahead, Nancy and Lisa 🙂

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  • Nancy, Thank you for contributing here on Inspire to Thrive. Your post is very informative on what a social media job entails and I was unaware of all the college courses and degrees now available for it too. I love how you say it is not a 9 to 5 job. One must REALLY enjoy it to do it for sure!
    Lisa recently posted..What Is A Social Media Manager Today?My Profile

  • Hi Nancy, welcome to Lisa’s blog!

    I was over on a post earlier this week and he was talking about all the new jobs that are available today that of course weren’t available even 10 years ago. Social Media Manager is one of those and who would have thought that! Maybe if I was still in corporate America this would definitely be something I would enjoy doing today more then what I use to do for over 30 years but I’m just glad to be away from all of that.

    I can see why more and more jobs are becoming available in this area due to the visibility that most companies need to get online now. That’s really something else.

    Thanks for sharing this and you ladies have a wonderful weekend.

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  • Good post. Its because of Social media that I was able to land a job pretty fast. I can’t say it would be for everyone, but you have to really love Social media if you’re going to be successful at it. There are so many different aspects to their job functions and it can be just about anything.

    I would suggest, finding a few things and being very good at it. Here’s the problem: most employers want degrees, but I think having the experience and staying up on things will get you in the door regardless. My blog also opened up many doors for me too. Thankfully I kept it clean because what you put on the internet, stays on the internet.
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  • Hi Nancy Jean!

    Wow! Social Media Manager? Woohoo! Sign me up! 😀 After reading your post more thoroughly and seeing Universities are now offering degrees in Social Media? Pfft… no thanks! Gosh, why does everything have to be a precise science? Whatever happened to winging it by the seat of your pants? :mrgreen:

    On a serious note, it does sound like a very interesting and rewarding career. Wish they had these type of careers when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

    Great to meet you Nancy Jean!
    Fab guest Lisa!
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    • Hello Bren and it’s great to meet you, and thanks for reading and for the comment! Honestly, I think there are few people who know what they really want to do with their lives, and I happily stumbled into this and I’m just thrilled to be doing it. For me, the reward is the one-on-one connections that you get to make with people… that’s something I was never able to do before in the role of communications, and it’s something I really enjoy. That said, I don’t see it as a precise science, and I don’t think it ever will be. I certainly don’t hold a degree in it, and don’t plan to pursue one, but that means I’m going to have a lot of competition should I decide to switch jobs in the future!
      Nancy Jean recently posted..The world needs more doctors like thisMy Profile

  • Holy moly! Well, while I appreciate social media, and know a good bit about it, that is not a job I’d want to hold in the long-term. It would be “fun” for a while, but I can tell it would get old really, really fast for me. 😯 I bow down before you, Lisa! 😀
    Have a great weekend. 😎

  • Social media has completely revolutionized the internet especially the internet marketing niche. 5 years ago things were a lot different and now everything is done through social media. Blog Engage gets a lot of social media traffic , and who knows maybe I will hire someone especially for Blog Engage. It was a great read.
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  • Such jobs are tough and interesting in my perspective .These folks have great communication and managerial skills and they have earned these skills through their vast experiences .

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  • Hello Nancy,

    Nice to meet you!

    I would love to be a social media manager. My background includes sales and marketing so I think that would be a great fit for me but I guess we are all social media managers if we use those platforms to promote our blogs/products, right?

    I think the only downfall would be that some folks may think being a social media manager is only about posting updates but there is so much more to it than that.

    Thanks for sharing the links for degree information. I’m particularly looking at the mini MBA from Rutgers 🙂

    Have wonderful Friday ladies!
    Corina Ramos recently posted..How A Mystery Shopper Makes MoneyMy Profile

  • Hi Nancy and welcome to Lisa’s blog 🙂

    Ah..that’s a great deal of social media manager and something that I’ve always wanted to learn more about. Even websites like Social Media Jobs share great information as to how we can find a job within this field and lots more. I’d surely be checking out the other links you mentioned because it’s fairly new to me.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend, both of you 🙂
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  • Hey Nancy,
    You know what? I spent the whole of last night preparing a Powerpoint presentation I’ll be doing just in the next 40 minutes about social media and how it affects business expansion. Well, I don’t intent to work with my client as social media manager though 😉 but I’m excited I’m reading this just at the moment I’m working on a very similar project.

    Really good stuff and welcome to Lisa’s wonderful blog. Have a wonderful weekend.
    Enstine Muki recently posted..How and where to meet and connect with top bloggers!My Profile

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