What does a social media manager do?

Social media are nothing new or special anymore, but the profession of social media (marketing) manager somehow still is. So far there have been numerous attempts at definition and no uniform regulation of the job description.

Social media marketing and communication in the company

Due to the rapid growth of social media, communication between companies and their customers has also changed. There are new opportunities for companies – especially with regard to a company presentation, communication, interaction with interested parties, and customer acquisition (e.g. with the help of ads).

But the image that most social media experts have is shaped by stereotypical ideas and some still probably don’t understand that there is much more to it than to win a few likes (if they still exist at all…), shares, and comments on various platforms.

Rather, it’s about attention. “Attention is the currency of business”, industry experts now agree. “Today, the net worth of the media industry and many of the world’s wealthiest tech companies (Google, Facebook, and Instagram) is entirely based on their ability to capture and monetize attention,” writes Ian Kerins on his blog. The more attention a company can gain, the better – because this in turn can be monetized.

Ideally, the social media manager has his own position in the communications, marketing, or branding department and works closely with service, sales, and of course online and content marketing managers, provided these departments exist. Even a staff position would be conceivable, whereby the organizational structural suspension is not decisive for the contribution that this person can make.

Tasks and fields of activity of the social media manager

Social media managers are primarily the responsible for integration and continuous optimization of company profiles on the social web. This includes tasks such as creating content and planning campaigns, customer care (if service is an aspect, otherwise we might just call it “community management”), network maintenance (this also includes cooperation with other companies) as well as general information provision. In addition, many other tasks are the responsibility of the social media manager:

Tasks of a social media manager at a glance:

  • Strategy and conception (guidelines) – Which Goals can be achieved with the help of social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter & Co., and what tactical measures are available?
  • Research – Which topics, platforms, content, and formats are currently in trend and fit your own strategy?
  • Communication – Editorial, Community management, crisis management, seeding, blogger relations, etc.
  • Social Media Monitoring – Where will talk about your own brand or your own products? Who’s talking about it and what’s the mood like?
  • Social Media (Search Engine) Optimization – In particular, video descriptions on YouTube are important to be found via organic search.
  • Customer Relationship Management
    – Are the colleagues from support and sales not actively involved in the Social media communication integrated (and trained), it is the responsibility of the social media manager to answer inquiries from customers and interested parties.
  • Quality Management – Especially when there is a lot of communication and content being produced, it is important to have a certain consistency in tonality and (visual) language to guarantee.
  • Success measurement and reporting – What works, what doesn’t? Simply distributing content and collecting fans is probably not effective, but what?
  • Tech Stack Management (incl. Automation) – In order to serve the different platforms and formats, social media managers need technical help. Scheduling tools, content calendars, analysis tools – there is a large selection of helpful tools.
  • Internal communication – Not always an issue, but from time to time social media is used for internal communication and, above all, private communication by employees. A legal (keyword: data protection) protection and clarification must take place here.
  • Coaching – Especially if a company wants to establish its employees as “corporate influencers”, it makes sense that a social media manager trains them and supports them in their development in the social Web accompanied.

Differentiation from other professional fields in marketing

While the social media or Social media marketing manager focused on social media, the online marketing manager is often seen as the jack of all trades. His broad know-how (with at the same time not so pronounced in-depth knowledge; keyword: T-Shaped Profile) makes him an all-rounder in marketing. In recent years, however, the coordination and measurement (performance) of all online marketing measures has emerged as the most important (management) task. In my article on the online marketing manager job description, I go into detail about the profile.

The content marketing manager, on the other hand, is primarily the Responsible for conception and development of content strategies. His tasks include everything that has to do with the planning, creation, and publication of relevant content along the customer journey. This role is therefore closely linked to the social media manager, whose focus in this combination may be more on distribution. In my article on the Content Marketing Manager job description, you will find all the information about his profile and I have also highlighted the roles of an SEO manager, content designer, or copywriter/copywriter separately.

Requirements and required competencies of Social Media Managers

The fact that the profession of social media manager is not uniformly defined makes it difficult to make a general statement. Especially since the requirements for each person vary depending on the company, industry, and field of application.

Vivian Pein outlines in her book “Der Social Media Manager ” (Rheinwerk)a competency model consisting of five areas:

  • Technical skills (= understanding fa ch-specific issues and contexts as well as experience), including, for example, industry knowledge, social networks, marketing & PR know-how, basics of digital law, IT & web basics.
  • Methodological skills, above all organization and conception, but also presentation and moderation.
  • Personal skills, in particular, of course, are an affinity with the web, openness, and fun in networking, willingness to learn, creativity, and flexibility.
  • Social skills, such as teamwork, communication, empathy, and diplomatic skills.
  • Management skills, including project management counts, but also decision-making and assertiveness as well as good (lateral) leadership.

This model has been developed since the first edition by the working group Berufsbild and further developed and validated in the BVCM eV. This resulted in a detailed requirement profile that you can download from the club (data required). because they are often difficult to understand, I have translated the BCVM’s assessments into a clear format. At konversionsKRAFT, we also work with such a “Spider Diagram”, as it is easy to show TARGET/ACTUAL comparisons and this clearly shows one’s own learning potential. Do you perhaps recognize your strengths directly?

In my eyes, An additional benefit is a private “passion” for social media. You don’t have to be a well-known “influencer” right away, but as a social media manager, encountering the various media more or less professionally doesn’t seem right to me. Although I completely understand when someone wants to separate work and private life as much as possible… Nathalie agrees:

“Every good social media manager should ‘breathe’ social media and use the common platforms very actively themselves. On the one hand, this helps to keep an eye on the user experience and on the other hand reveals new trends, formats, and Co. The best trend is useless if we ignore the user experience and the fans don’t get the core message due to their short attention span.”

Social Media Manager Salary – How attractive is the job from a financial point of view? Any job can be fun, as long as it pays the bills and stocks the fridge. However, the question of how much exactly social media managers earn has many “right” answers, because it naturally depends on qualifications, experience, position, and certainly also on the company itself, the industry, and the importance of social media in corporate strategy.

LinkedIn Salary (see below) shows the profession with an average annual salary of 37,000 euros. The website social-media-manager.com confirms this with an average of 36,000 euros, with a starting salary of around 2,600 euros. However, a look at lohnsvergleich.com reveals the huge range of social media salaries. The average salary here is between €27,000 and €61,000 per year. Because in addition to the size and form of the company and the company headquarters, professional experience and the degree of responsibility also play an important role.

A comparison of currently advertised job offers and portals shows that you can expect a salary of around 33,000 euros as a beginner and around 55,000 euros as an experienced professional (5+ years). However, depending on your experience and position, you can and should negotiate an even higher salary and see opportunities for improvement. But as Katja rightly points out:

The more conservative and hierarchical the organization, the more the salary depends on education, age, and affiliation. If the company is “more modern” or even works agile, it is more important what moves an employee and what goals he or she achieves.

Social Media Manager wanted! How difficult is it to find the right job or employee?

Now that we know the ideal profile of a social media manager, let’s take a look at reality. I don’t want to drag experienced social media managers through the mud because they lack one or the other qualification with regard to the above diagram. Rather, I am interested in the extent to which the requirement profiles from job advertisements correspond to the actual skills. Or are companies still looking for a jack of all trades?

Or even just for interns? Hold me tight or I’ll freak out!

Here are a few examples of social media manager jobs that companies are currently advertising:

  • Net Effect (Jung von Matt): Social Media Manager
  • SEMrush: Social Media Community Manager
  • Job offers on StepStone (e.g. from LIDL, Vodafone, and STRÖER)
  • Job offers via LinkedIn Jobs

To you as a social media manager, it doesn’t matter whether you really meet all the requirements. Much more important is identification with the company, sympathy among colleagues, and fun with the task because after all, you are at the forefront!

Chances & risks of a career as a social media manager

The job title of the social media manager is not protected and not regulated. On the one hand, this is not good because the requirements are not always clear or are the same from job to job. On the other hand, it’s also good, because it opens up different ways in which you can achieve your desired career. All doors are open to you, from classic training, for example at the IHK, to subject-related (distance) studies to various further training courses. And meanwhile, the profession is recognized insofar as the employment agency supports, for example, retraining.

Apprenticeship as a social media manager

The Chambers of Industry and Commerce offer various courses, from specialist seminars lasting several days to courses lasting several months of Social media manager training. In addition, you may also find the opportunity in one or the other company to complete regular, multi-year, and part-time training.

Studying Social Media Management

There is no such thing as a course to become a social media manager. However, other courses deal with the topic (e.g. media & communication management, marketing & digital media) or set various priorities. For many companies, a degree is a prerequisite for sooner or later working in a managerial position. Numerous private and state universities, colleges, and technical colleges offer these courses. Those who prefer learning from home can access various educational offers from distance schools.

Further training as a social media manager

Anyone who works in the PR or media industry, for example, can train to become a social media manager. My tip (because I trained as an online marketing manager there a long time ago and was very satisfied) is the Social Media Academy. Depending on previous knowledge and experience, there are different lengths and intensive seminars. Such may also be of interest to those who are already working as social media managers but would like to receive further training in specific areas, such as web analysis, performance marketing (e.g. specifically creating advertising campaigns) or influencer marketing.

Actually, the job itself is already a “lifelong school” because maybe not a day will go by without something new happening or you can develop personally. Nathalie remembers…

In the last few years on the way from social media trainee to team leader, I have learned that all these skills remain relevant. On top comes: overview, organization, pulling together, creating communication between the individual trades, and bringing relevant information from the head level to the team. I see social media team leaders as responsible for setting a positive example: sharing knowledge, knowing trends and communicating them to everyone, critically questioning content for relevance, and working together. The aim should not be to know everything yourself but to guide the team. For me, the top priority is to be motivating, to train, to empower the team to perform at its best instead of pushing, and to promote this mindset among each other.

Social Media Manager of the future

The internet and social media are constantly changing. In addition to new updates, global trends, and innovative apps, other professions will form in the digital world and turn the life of the social media manager upside down. It is important that you stay on the ball (i.e. are always informed about changes in well-known networks such as Facebook or Twitter) and occasionally poke your nose into other areas that may even be unfamiliar to you. Vivien Steinbach has summarized the most important social media trends for 2022 in basic thinking.

The job description “Social Media Manager”

Those who work as social media managers have a colorful everyday life and will always take on new tasks and learn new things in the course of their careers. Anyone who has an affinity for the many different platforms – both old and new – and has an intrinsic motivation to find out what type of content works well on Facebook, Twitter & Co. is in good hands in this job. But even those who don’t like working directly with people can develop strategy or content planning and implementation. Or do an “apprenticeship” and pass on your own knowledge, for example in the form of digital products.

We’re also looking at one for the most part unknown future with wearables, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and of course new networks, which we don’t know exactly how they will affect us. So the job profile of the social media manager has definitely not yet been clarified!

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