When you’re learning how to become a social media manager, it’s easy to forget that the top skill is satisfying your clients.
The reality is that if you just focus on building your own business, you won’t be successful for very long. On your journey to becoming a well-paid social media manager, you need to focus on getting great results for your clients.
In this post, we’re not only covering how to become a social media manager, but also how to become a really, really good one!
How to become a social media manager: frequently asked questions
There’s no barrier to entry with this career. There’s no required degree, or even a certain number of years of experience doesn’t matter much.
In this industry, the most important thing is that you get results for your clients, which will
- Help you get more referrals
- Help you stand out to new prospects (when you share these results in case studies published on your website, LinkedIn profile, etc.)
- Keep your clients satisfied and paying your monthly retainer
That said, if you’re just starting out, then your head is probably spinning with questions. Don’t worry. We’ve got answers to frequently asked questions by new social media managers.
What are the top social media skills?
To become a social media consultant or in-house manager, you need a variety of different skill sets.
- Technology skills – You’ll need to learn how to use a social media scheduling and reporting tool. You should also be well versed in a variety of social media platforms, including lesser-known features, tricks, and hacks. You should also be really great at doing internet research, so you can do market research, competitor research, and customer research.
- Social skills – It would be really hard to imagine a social media manager who didn’t love people! You should be getting into this business partly because you’re naturally a people person. You should be a good listener, attentive, and empathetic. All of these qualities will help you forge real relationships with your company’s or your clients’ target audiences.
- Management skills – As a social media manager, you might be handling everything related to social media all by yourself, or you might be delegating some tasks to others. Tasks like photography, photo editing, graphic design, and video editing are things you could delegate.
- Strategy skills – You should familiarize yourself with business strategy and marketing strategy. Books like Blue Ocean Strategy and StoryBrand can help with both, and you should also be open to picking up on smart strategy over time, by working closely with entrepreneurs and marketing directors.
- Content creation skills – You don’t need to be good at everything, but you should have an eye for design (so you can either create or manage visual content) and you should also be good at copywriting for social media.
Do I need to get a social media manager certification?
Short answer: no!
You don’t need a social media certification to become a social media manager and get clients. If you’re trying to get a job as a social media manager, however, certification can definitely help. Also, if you have no experience, a certification can help you get the confidence to sell your services to clients (even if it’s not required).
How should I charge?
Social media managers charge anywhere from $200 per month to thousands per month for larger companies with multiple accounts. We’ve written an entire post on what to charge, whether you’re just starting out or thinking about raising your rates.
How do I get clients?
There are so many ways that you can get clients for your social media management business. Here are some of the top ways:
- Cold email
- Local networking events
Regardless of how potential clients hear of you, they’ll want to see evidence that you are passionate about social media and knowledgeable. You should work on building up your own community of followers.
It’s not necessary to build a community as a social media marketer or agency. You can take a more creative angle like LBS Social, a social media agency that has over 30,000 followers across platforms for its travel and digital nomad lifestyle blog.
How to become a social media manager that gets results
If you do a great job and you get results for your clients, there won’t be a shortage of work for your services. You’ll receive referrals and you will be able to publish case studies on your website that attract new clients as well.
With social media, results can come in many forms:
- Increased brand awareness that leads to more press coverage and marketing partnerships
- Direct increase in sales and signups
- Direct increase in warm leads for email nurture and follow up
All of the following tips will help you become a social media manager whose clients and brands are excited to work with.
Align your social media strategy with business goals
Often times, businesses come to you for social media strategy, and they don’t already have a strategy that they want you to implement. Even though you’re the expert in social media, your client or boss is the expert in their business, and therefore, before you create a social media strategy, you should first understand the business strategy.
What does the business sell? Who do they sell to? How do they charge? Where do they stand in relation to the market? What is the CEO’s vision for growth? All of these things should guide your social media strategy.
Too often, social media managers neglect the foundation of business strategy and start posting things that don’t align.
Document your social media strategy
It’s not enough to have your strategy in your head. You should write it down and get approval by your client and/or your marketing team.
Your documented strategy should include:
- Brief of the target audience(s) including personas, what this persona wants to achieve, and what stands in their way
- Priority social media channels
- Type of content for each channel
- Topics of content for each channel
- Approved sources for retweets and content shares
- Approved hashtags, including branded hashtags
- Plan for account growth and community management for each channel
Check that there are lead capture systems in place
Social media has the power to drive a lot of traffic to a website. The business you are working with might not have email marketing setup. If not, then there is no way to capture leads who aren’t ready to become a customer.
Before driving a ton of traffic to a website, you should implement a high-value free option like a guide or webinar to convert some of that traffic into email subscribers.
Batch your content creation to save time and stay on strategy
Even with a documented strategy, it’s easy to veer off course when you’re posting on social media. You might log in to Twitter and start retweeting pictures of delicious food simply because you’re hungry.
To keep yourself on track, work on your content creation outside of social media platforms. No distractions! Batch your content and create all the posts you need for the next week or even more, and then schedule them for automatic publishing.
Forge relationships with influencers and non-competing brands
As a social media manager, you not only interact with customers and target customers but also with other companies. Over time you should strive to create content marketing partnerships with relevant brands as well as relationships with influencers.
These are some of the different partnerships you can manage:
- Swap shares
- Swap guest posts
- Sponsored blog posts
- Sponsored social media posts
This type of marketing can be enormously valuable to a company, in terms of increasing reach and improving brand perception. When you add this to your service or job role, you’re going above and beyond!
Collaborate with the content marketing team
When you’re in charge of a company’s social media following, you learn a lot about the target audience. You will likely have more interactions with them than other marketers. For that reason, you should share what you’ve learned. Let the content marketing team know what kind of content your audience has asked for (directly to your brand or by asking a general question in a post).
Respond quickly to comments, follows, retweets, mentions, and messages
It’s your job to communicate with customers and prospective customers. Don’t let the ball drop. Establish a protocol for each of the following, and stick to it.
- Comments – Will you respond to all comments or only in-depth comments?
- Follows – You could follow back and/or like a new followers’ posts.
- Retweets – You could like retweets and follow relevant accounts.
- Mentions – Be sure to monitor mentions of your company so you can respond accordingly
- Messages – You should respond to all (non-spam) direct messages within 24 hours, much fewer if resources allow
Deliver high-value monthly reports
Whether you’re delivering reports to a client or a boss, you need to learn how to deliver reports that are meaningful. Go beyond stats of follower counts and numbers of likes, and analyze content performance to determine what works the best. Review your top performing 5 or 10 posts, as well as the lowest-performing. In your report, include a brief write-up of what were the goals for the month, which goals were and weren’t met, and what was learned.
When you show that you are not only monitoring performance but also adapting to it, then you elevate your service or role.
Use a tool that helps you maximize your content
Creating social media content is an enormous amount of work, and with so much noise online, most of your audience will not see your content. That’s an unfortunate fact and one of the biggest challenges for social media managers. To make the most of your social media content, you should use a tool that includes a digital asset management system and reposting features.
Your tool should make it easy to do the following:
- Re-sharing posts (weeks or months later)
- Re-sharing images with different captions
- Re-using images across different channels
Be ready to pivot and make strategy changes
As mentioned with our tips on reporting, you should be constantly learning and adapting based on what’s working and what isn’t, but you should also be flexible when it comes to the demands of your clients or co-workers. Business strategy changes, especially with startups. Don’t take it personally if your client all the sudden wants to go for a different target audience, just make sure the decision is based on real market feedback, and not a distraction.
Learn what works for your own business
To become a social media manager, you absolutely must have a real love for social media, and you should showcase your skills with a high-quality blog with loads of Pinterest traffic, an Instagram following, a LinkedIn following, or a YouTube channel. In addition to attracting clients, your online following will also help you become a better strategist. Sure, what works for your business might not work for your clients’ business, but simply by running tests for yourself you’ll become savvier and more pragmatic.
Becoming a social media manager is an exciting journey. But as you work on building your skills, getting more clients, and growing your own following, don’t forget to prioritize what matters to your clients.
If you develop a reputation as a social media manager who cares about results and not just looking to fill a quota for posts, you’ll soon develop a fanbase of companies ready to work with you.