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How to become a social media manager

How to become a social media manager in 5 steps (2023)

If you want to help drive growth for your organization and create meaningful interactions with your target audience, learning how to be a social media manager could be the right path for you.

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How do I become a social media manager?

Running a personal social media account is very different from managing one for an employer or client. A successful social media manager stays on top of trends, platforms, and industry tools to schedule posts, monitor analytics, and more. Working in social media means embracing lifelong learning and adapting as the landscape evolves, and can lead to additional opportunities in marketing. 

Ready to get started? Here are five steps you can take to start your journey toward becoming a social media manager.

Step 1: Close skill gaps

As a subset of marketing, social media management requires relevant industry skills, such as project management, organization, strong communication and copywriting, adaptability, and the ability to work independently and within a larger team. 

Social media managers ensure that their content strategy feeds into organizational objectives. They create and review social media calendars, monitor the performance of previous posts, develop engaging and competitive content, prepare reports, and collaborate with influencers.

Consider your own skill set and experience level. Are there areas where you can expand on your abilities to better match the requirements for becoming a social media manager? Even if you’re interested in how to become a social media manager with no experience, there are many ways to learn marketing skills. Learners can explore digital marketing boot camps for an accelerated format, or opt for a more formal bachelor’s degree program. edX also offers digital marketing executive education courses designed to fit into professional schedules. Choose a path that aligns with your experience and goals.

Step 2: Understand social media platforms and marketing analytics

Once you’ve built a strong foundation of general marketing skills, it’s time to dive deep into social media platforms and how they work. Transitioning from an everyday social media user to a social media manager requires an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of major channels such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Get familiar with each platform’s tools for scheduling and publishing content, social listening, analytics, and more.

As you continue to learn digital marketing fundamentals, you can study how other businesses use social networks. Interested in how to learn graphic design and SEO for social media management? Online courses can help you gain familiarity with tools like Google AdWords, WordPress, and Facebook Ads, while also building evergreen skills. These are all helpful skills for anyone looking to learn social media marketing.

Step 3: Gain relevant work experience

One of the best ways to build your social media management skills is by applying them to real-world situations. You can start by seeking out internship opportunities, or connecting with small businesses or nonprofits that need someone to manage or establish their social media presence. Depending on your comfort level, you may decide to work for free while you’re still learning, or you might start charging clients as a freelancer.

Another way to showcase your social media management abilities is by enhancing your own channels. Turn your pages into your personal brand, be strategic, and post consistently to grow your following. All your work at this stage can make strong additions to your professional portfolio as you start to apply for salaried roles.

Step 4: Develop a portfolio

Whether you choose to work in-house or on a freelance basis, your portfolio is key to demonstrating that you know how to be a good social media manager. You want to show potential employers that you can think strategically about your content plan, analyze important metrics, and use that analysis to make informed decisions about future content planning. It’s also a good idea to include projects that showcase your ability to leverage different platforms.

Here’s an example of how you might want to structure your portfolio:

  • Introduce yourself and briefly describe your experience. Include a photo of yourself and relevant information that can help clients understand who you are both personally and professionally.

  • Provide an overview of your best content. Think about the work you’re most proud of, and provide a short explanation of three or four projects that highlight your expertise. Include engaging visuals to really make them stand out.

  • Bring in analytics. How did your social media projects perform? Even if they didn’t do as well as you had hoped, what did you learn from the experience? Showing your thought process helps employers understand your approach and ability to adapt.

  • Outline your strategic approach. Explain how you came up with your project idea, the steps you took to achieve it, and how you measured its success. Being able to discuss how you worked with others on any projects can also help to demonstrate your collaboration skills.

  • Add client testimonials. Whether you participated in an internship, provided free services, or worked freelance, make sure to collect feedback from your clients. This positive word of mouth shows your ability to translate client needs into actionable strategy. It speaks to the strength of your relationship management skills.

  • List your strengths and services. What aspects of social media management are you most comfortable with? How does the content in your portfolio support your claims? This section should reinforce everything you have shown so far.

  • Close with your contact information and a quick thank you. You want to make it easy for prospective employers and clients to get in touch with you. Include a few ways they can reach you, and include a note of thanks for their time and consideration.

Keep in mind that your portfolio does not have to be filled with professional work. Passion projects and side jobs can also be a fun, practical way to learn how to be a social media manager. Once you start preparing to apply for open roles, make sure you also know how to write a CV in a format that highlights your new skills appropriately.

Step 5: Market yourself to potential clients

When you feel ready to start working professionally as a social media manager, your ability to market yourself as a personal brand will help prospective employers and clients understand how you can market their products or services. Consider curating your portfolio to different jobs, making sure to showcase projects that align with the roles you’re applying for. You can also write your CV to highlight your most relevant skills to the job in question.

Keep in mind, landing a social media manager job doesn’t necessarily entail applying for roles you find online. Attending conferences and small business events are a great way to meet other industry professionals and connect with even more opportunities for social media management. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself in person, give people your card, and let them meet your brand face-to-face.

Learn more: Navigating Marketing Careers: Your Guide to Jobs, Skills, & Breaking In

Getting started

Social media is constantly changing. Platforms and trends come and go. Algorithms evolve. Current events spark new conversations. Staying up to date on new channels is important, but it’s even more important to lay a good foundation. There are plenty of reputable resources online to learn how to be a social media manager and help you upskill in marketing. Explore edX marketing courses to get started.

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Frequently asked questions

First, evaluate your current skills against social media management requirements and identify any gaps you may need to fill. Then, complete coursework that allows you to practice planning, scheduling, and analyzing social media content. Even learners without any experience can build a portfolio of work demonstrating their new skills, which can lead to internships and, eventually, professional work. As you master new skills and tools, add them to your CV, tailoring its structure and content to align with the jobs you’re interested in.

The time it takes to become a social media manager will depend on each learner’s existing experience and skills. If you’re starting out from scratch, you may need to devote more time to your learning to ensure that you fully understand how to best use popular platforms and their respective analytics tools. Existing marketers may be able to enroll in a digital marketing boot camp or executive education course as a means of expanding their skills into social media management in just a few weeks or months.

Becoming a social media manager requires the ability to strategize, stay organized, and adapt quickly to new trends or developments. These professionals use a blend of creativity and strategic thinking while staying on top of new trends and social media platforms. For some individuals, these skills and responsibilities may feel like a natural fit, whereas others may find the role to be more challenging. Before deciding to learn about social media management, take some time to learn about the role and whether it aligns with your experience and goals.

In addition to being dedicated to constant learning, social media managers rely on skills such as project management, organization, strong communication and copywriting, adaptability, and collaboration. You can start learning these skills with online courses delivered through edX.

Last updated: August 2023