You’ve gotta do more than play on Facebook all day to be a social media manager. Here’s what to expect.

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All the cool kids are social media managers nowadays. And after that brilliant post from Business Insider about avoiding handing out your social media to youngins, it’s becoming more important for both recent grads and hiring managers to better understand what a social media manager actually does.

No, it’s not playing on Facebook all day. (Okay, maybe a little.)

To be a social media manager, you need to be keyed in to two things:

1. Know your subject

If you post about running shoes and you’re not a runner, seriously consider becoming one. Talk to runners, visit the company’s factory, read books and blogs and talk to the engineer who created the shoes. This is so important because it means you can be current in your content and answer questions like you know what you’re talking about.

2. Know your voice (or rather, your brand’s voice)

We all have our own natural writing voice. I use a lot of exclamation points, short sentences, contractions and sarcasm, which might not be right for a custom-made running shoe company. So in talking to people passionate about these things and in reading other marketing material from the company, pay special attention to the words they use. Keep a notebook and jot those words down. Create a persona, and base your postings as if that person were talking, not you.

What your day will look like

Your day will be 75 percent emails. You need a direct connection to customer service, along with alerts set up for every single keyword, account and profile related to the company. Despite popular belief, fans can’t just complain on a Facebook page to get their project taken care of. While a social media manager might want to give them a refund or help solve their problems, most brands have escalation processes, and a manager will need to run it through the system first. Sometimes it goes through public relations and customer service before she can answer the customer’s question. (This doesn’t make it right, but it’s how it usually works.)

So as a social media manager, you’ll need to get in touch with these departments and constantly monitor/harass them for the right information. On top of that, PR and customer service departments usually have no idea what the appropriate answer might be for a social platform. They’ll give you something long and drawn out and skirt around the issue. Your job is to give a recommended response, then when said departments ignore you, convince them to see the light.

Here are a few skills that will also come in handy:

Know how to write — and write well

The daily life of a social media manager involves a lot of writing, a lot of Facebook advertising management and following your subject on blogs, Pinterest, YouTube and more. Then, of course, there’s the actual monitoring of the brand’s page. While I’d love the luxury of checking into my pages every hour on the hour, that’s often just not possible. Plus, it’s not the most productive use of your time.

Be willing to analyze (like, with numbers)

Then there’s the reporting time. Every week or month, you’ll need to analyze Facebook Insights data and report on which posts performed the best, which had the most shares and comments, which resulted in the most unlikes. Sometimes there’s going to be (gasp!) math involved. You’ve been warned.

Organize like a pro

Then there’s the inevitable project management. Most brand pages are always running campaigns you need to not only monitor, but create a strategy around. Brief the designers and the developers and constantly sense-check every little thing. Then go through the bug edits and fixes that always come up on Facebook. This constant page activity means you need to know what’s going live and when, what material you need from whom and have it all organized someplace awesome.

How many of you out there are already social managers? How does your day compare?

For anyone looking into this career, do you think you can hack it?

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at


  1. Immaculate Ogbe

    Here is a straight forward guide for would be Social Media Managers. I’m loving this.

  2. James Wesley Hunt

    So basically as long as you know the subject and can write you should be able to work as a social media manager? Lol, what about knowledge of traditional and online marketing, strategy development, implementation, understanding consumer behavior, translating qualitative data into quantitative information, etc.. I’m all for the social media boom, but far too often I run into people who think they are social media experts because they have played around on Facebook and Twitter (MAJOR SOCIAL MEDIA FIRMS INCLUDED). If you’re going to post an article on being a social media manager, at least dive a little deeper into the real marketing aspect of social media.

    Rant aside, I do agree with your points. I just think this is only a novice introduction to running social media channels.

    • Suzanne Levison

      James, I feel this is more a general guide. The points are all important ones. True, true, true, so many so called “experts” around who don’t have a clue of the exact elements of the positions. (when recruiting, that is)

  3. Suzanne Levison

    Very on point. #1 “Know Your Subject” I think is #1 for any social media professional in a management, Director, or Senior position.

  4. Ashley Carty

    Do managers make stratigic plans weeks in advance with posting pictures, quotes and tags in a document for their bosses before they post or are rules and campaign ideas set in advance then the manager posts as they go?

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