The Arkansas State University (A-State) Master of Science (M.S.) in Strategic Communications with an Emphasis in Social Media Management online program prepares graduates to enter a fast-growing, increasingly important field. But what exactly is a social media manager? What are their career and earnings prospects and what are their roles within marketing departments?
This article will answer the questions you have been asking, and the answers provided may tip the scales for you as you decide whether or not to make social media the focus of your career.
What Does a Social Media Manager Do?
The roles, responsibilities and skills of social media managers are becoming more and more diverse. Social media managers research and understand audience niches and then use this knowledge to curate and create content as well as plan promotions that engage audiences and encourage them to share. They then monitor and respond when individuals do engage.
What social media managers say in these interactions is just as critical to a brand’s image as the carefully worded messages in company advertisements. Yet, they must respond without the benefit of time, oversight and many rounds of edits. The social media manager enjoys autonomy, and while they must be highly creative and passionate voices for their brands, they must also be vigilant, exercising prudence and discretion. Loose cannons need not apply.
As a social media manager, you will need to be familiar with the most widely used social websites and apps like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Reddit and Pinterest. These are rapidly evolving platforms, and social media managers must stay abreast of the best ways to leverage them.
Social engagement through mobile use is the current standard, so social media managers must be able to utilize mobile technologies to reach potential consumers where they are and when they are most receptive. Moreover, the ongoing addition of new social platforms that offer unique advantages present the challenge of keeping up for social media managers. At any given time, there may be hundreds of options to consider, but most will not prove durable over time. A social media manager must discern which platforms have the most promise and best match the company’s marketing and communications objectives.
Yet social media managers must also ensure messaging across platforms closely aligns, providing prospective customers a seamless and consistent experience. This is an important aspect of omnichannel marketing, a consumer-centric approach that integrates the customer experience, relationship management, communications, messaging and branding across channels. Omnichannel marketing was one of many digital and social media marketing trends not long ago, but it has quickly evolved to be relatively ubiquitous in effective large-scale marketing strategies.
What Are the Social Media Manager’s Specific Responsibilities?
While social marketing and advertising are integral to online marketing strategy, social media is about people, conversations and the development of leads and sales from those relationships.
A social media manager administers the company’s social engagements which includes content and promotion planning, goal setting and strategies for building and developing leads and converting them to sales. From the first sale, customers need to be cultivated, and the social media manager must understand their needs and take them through the customer journey.
Part of that process incorporates intensive audience analysis, researching and segmenting customers by various demographics, products purchased and interests. As these areas branch out over time and databases grow, the social media manager must oversee an increasingly complex set of individual audience niches. This is analogous to turning a small garden into a 100-acre arboretum.
Depending on the size of the organization, the social media manager may perform many of these functions solo, or they may work closely with content marketing managers, customer experience managers, account managers, sales engineers and even specific community managers. Plus, today’s advanced social media analytics tools aid in the seemingly insurmountable task of distilling massive amounts of data on audiences into usable, strategic insight.
The social media manager must be competent in using these technological tools to maximize their marketing efforts. This requires knowledge of analytics software as well as strategic digital communication practices like search engine optimization (SEO). Reflecting this, A-State’s social media M.S. program emphasizes mastering the technological tools and practices that drive modern social media marketing.
Career and Earnings Prospects
Employment of advertising, promotions and marketing managers is projected to grow 10% between 2020 and 2030, and professionals in this broadly categorized field currently earned a median pay of $133,380 per year in 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Specific salary data for social media managers varies widely. For instance, ZipRecruiter reports the average social media manager salary to be $53,917 as of August 2022. July 2022 data from Salary.com shows a median salary of $139,675 for social media communications senior managers, a figure more in line with BLS’ estimations for advertising, promotions and marketing managers as a whole. In general, there is growing consensus that social media managers have become integral to marketing strategy success and should be valued (and paid) commensurately.
Social media is changing the world, and social media managers find themselves operating at the heart of a thriving movement. If you have a passion for connecting people with businesses, enrolling in an M.S. degree program with a social media management emphasis may be a wise career decision.