How to Become a Social Media Manager

If you’re interested in a career change, becoming a social media manager is a realistic, flexible option that may be of interest to you.

Social media managers, as you might have guessed, are responsible for managing the social media accounts of a businesses, celebrities, and other entrepreneurs.

In most cases, large businesses hire full-time social media managers to work in house. They might even have an entire department dedicated to social media management.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, are small brands and solopreneurs that rely on contract-based social media managers to help them address their marketing needs.

Where a business owner’s time is often tied up in other areas of the business, scheduling content to Facebook and Instagram easily becomes an afterthought.

This is where you potentially fit in.

The owner reasonably (and affordably) offloads the management of their social profiles to you, so they can get back to focusing on wherever else their time is best spent.

How Do Social Media Managers Make Money?

A social media manager earns money online from the clients and businesses they serve. If they work for a company, they will typically earn a salary. If they’re self-employed, they likely charge an hourly, monthly, or per project rate.

Self-employed social media managers, also known as social media consultants, most commonly offer different levels of monthly service packages. The lowest level might include posting on social media three to four times a week, while the largest package might include daily posting on social media across multiple platforms.

In the photo below, you can see how the social media marketing company, Brandit360, breaks down their pricing:

brandit360 social media management pricing

These packages are typically offered on a monthly basis. Additionally, many social media managers request clients work with them a minimum of three to six months in order to allow time for measurable improvement.

How Much Does a Social Media Manager Make?

According to PayScale, the average social media manager’s salary is $49,000 a year. In high cost of living areas like New York City, the average salary is around $57,000 a year.

If you own your own business as a social media manager, your income is only limited by the number of clients you’re able to land. As your company grows, you can hire virtual assistants and outsource tasks, becoming your own agency.

Alternatively, you can always get on the job training as a salaried employee, and then branch off to create your own business when you feel ready.

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Not so long ago, the job title of social media manager didn’t even exist. Because the position is still relatively new, the required skills vary depending on the job. It’s helpful to have some type of marketing, business, or communications background.

Typical social media manager duties and qualifications include:

  • Planing and scheduling content across various social media platforms
  • Analyzing, tracking and reporting on campaign performance
  • Looking for expansion/breakout opportunities on growing social networks
  • Working with influencers and other brands to drive lead generation and enhance business visibility

It’s also helpful to have graphic design knowledge, as you might be tasked with creating graphics for your social media posts (especially if you work for a small company).

Beyond merely managing social profiles, you’ll be expected to report on your results. Business owners won’t be highly motivated to keep paying for your services unless you can justify your worth. Here’s an example social media manager checklist and tentative reporting schedule:

social media manager responsibilities

Additionally, having a strong command of the English language is also important, as you might be in charge of responding to messages and managing a community.

It also helps to have a love of learning, because the social media landscape is constantly changing. You’ll want to be up to date on the latest trends, resources, apps, and tools associated with the job.

Getting Started: Get the Right Training

The best way to get started in social media management is to take a training course that teaches you the skills necessary to go at things on your own.

By understanding a little bit about each area of social media management, you are better positioned to delegate work to virtual assistants if/when you decide that starting an agency is right for you. If you have no plans to scale, you’ll need to know everything regardless.

As it stands, there are several social media marketing training courses you can take to receive certifications in the area of study. They typically cost between $100 – $500 and teach you everything you need to know to start working with clients.

Social Media Marketing Courses: 

  1. 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success ($397)
  2. Social Media Management – The Complete 2019 Manager Bootcamp  ($149.99) Currently 91% off for $12.99.

Beyond the training component, expect to have to master a several social media management tools such as Buffer, HootSuite, CoSchedule, Edgar, and more.

Next: Choose Which Platforms to Master

If you want to become a social media manager, you’ll want to become extremely proficient at several social media platforms. Going a step further and mastering a platform can really set you apart from competing management services (i.e. become a Facebook specialist or Instagram guru).

The three hottest areas for social media marketing are:


instagram iconinstagram icon

Instagram is a great social media platform to manage if you enjoy graphic design and photography.

If you’re comfortable with making and editing video, Instagram stories offers a powerful way to connect with an audience. There are now many different programs that allow you to schedule Instagram posts and Instagram stories.


facebook icon

facebook iconIf you want to manage Facebook as a social media platform, it’s incredibly important to keep up-to-date with the company’s constantly changing algorithm.

If you’re comfortable with live videos, Facebook Live can be a good way to engage with an audience. You can also learn how to send automatic message responses on Facebook, which will show that your company is responsive and cares about its community.


pinterest icon

pinterest iconPinterest is a very powerful, image-based search engine. It helps to have a strong background in graphic design here, so you can create eye-catching images that users will respond to.

Like Instagram, you can improve your engagement on Pinterest by following other accounts and using hashtags. Pinterest also has numerous group boards to help you improve your reach.

How to Become a Social Media Manager at a Company in 3 Steps

If you prefer the stability of an office job over starting your own business, there are a few ways to increase your chances of getting the job. This is often a good route to take if you’re not sure you want to be self-employed. Plus, you’ll get on the job training that will help you hone your skills.

1. Create a Website

These days, your website is now your resume. Use your page to show who you are as a person, because a company has to trust you to manage their social media.

The most attractive candidates come across as trustworthy, reliable and put-together. Make sure you have links to all the social media profiles you manage on your website.

RelatedHow to Create a Blog and Showcase Your Portfolio

2. Build Your Own Social Media Channels

You’re much more likely to get hired as a social media manager if you have a solid number of followers on your own social media accounts.

Take the time to look at your accounts and ask if each one is a good representation of your abilities as a social media manager. You can also create new accounts to showcase your abilities and fill out your portfolio.

3. Apply for Social Media Manager Positions

In the digital age, competition is fierce. You may find it beneficial to cast your net wide and spend time applying to several positions rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket. Because you’ve created your own website and you have your own social media channels to show as examples of your work, you should be well prepared for an interview.

If you have trouble getting interviews, attend networking events, connect with people on LinkedIn, and keep trying. Once you start to get interviews, ask for feedback until you land the position you want.

How to Become a Self-Employed Social Media Manager in 4 Steps

There are plenty of benefits to being self-employed, but it’s not always as easy as it seems. Still, if you value your time and flexibility – and you have an excellent work ethic – running a social media business might be perfect for you.

1. Understand Your Target Client

The first step to starting your own social media management business is to understand your target client.

While you can be a social media manager for many different types of companies and people, it’s helpful to hone in on a specific niche. For example, maybe you focus on travel bloggers, design companies or medical spas. Whatever you choose, learn everything about your niche demographic, including how old they are and how they spend their time.

2. Learn How to Create a Posting Schedule

Now that you understand your target client, it’s time to learn how to create a posting schedule. There are numerous different software programs you can use to schedule your social media, but what’s important is keeping a consistent daily schedule. Do your research to find the one that’s right for you.

3. Build Your Portfolio

Building a strong portfolio is a great way to prove your value. At first, your own social media profiles will serve just fine, and you can build a few different mock portfolios to show clients. As you gain clients, add them to your portfolio. Keep this up to date, just as you would with a resume.

4. Grow Your Client Base

Pitch clients frequently and add them one at a time. Serve them well and ask for feedback. When you get overwhelmed because you have too many clients, hire an assistant to help you. If that isn’t financially viable, you might need to up your rates, cut your expenses, or drop some of the lowest paying clients.

Is Social Media Management Right for You?

Ultimately, social media management is a great online job, whether you’re fresh out of school, or a stay at home mom looking for a new career.

It’s a career that is constantly evolving and changing. If you like to learn, and have a flair for digital design, you might even have some fun doing it. This is a job that pays well if you’re a salaried employee, but as an added bonus, you also have the potential skills needed to launch your own business.

If you’re lost and still not sure how everything fits together, watch this video by Jordan Platten, a six-figure social media marketer from the U.K. He has successfully launched and grew his own social media consultant agency so he knows what he’s talking about. It’s full of great tips that might help answer any lingering questions you may have about getting started.