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Manage your way to social media success

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Are you interested in turning your social media knowledge into a career? Our essential five-minute guide will help you get started as a social media manager.

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Social Media Management
A social media manager’s daily responsibilities aren’t too dissimilar to those of marketing in general. However, because of the speed at which social media operates, the day-to-day work is more hectic.

What is a social media manager?

A social media manager, who often works as part of a company’s marketing or PR department, is responsible for a company, organisation or client’s social media presence. In addition to posting new content, they’re responsible for directing social media strategy, including which platforms to focus on, what content to post and which posts to promote. It’s also their job to monitor social media for mentions of the company, answer questions and offer solutions to any problems raised. This helps boost the company’s online reputation for responsiveness.

In addition, a social media manager needs to understand how news cycles work and offer industry expertise for the company, brand or product. 

How do I become a social media manager as a beginner?

While there’s no clear pathway to becoming a social media manager, there are several steps you can follow:

Build your skills

Create your own strong personal brand on social media. Review the list of skills in the ‘What skills do you need to become a good social media manager?’ section below and use your own account to develop them.

Study for qualifications

Find out what different employers expect for different positions. The more senior the position, the more likely you’ll require a relevant degree-level qualification. However, there are other routes into social media management that accept A Levels and/or GCSEs alongside qualifications gained while working, such as apprenticeships.

Gain relevant experience

Look for internships or connect with smaller businesses or charities. Either volunteer for free or look to charge a freelancer’s rates. If volunteering, look for opportunities on websites like NCVO.

Take a junior position

If you start in an assistant or non-managerial role or work in a related field such as advertising or marketing, you can, over time, gain the essential experience you need to take on a managerial position.

Research your field

Keep an eye out for social media manager positions and apply for any interesting ones for which you’re qualified. If you don’t meet the criteria, strengthen your skills in the areas you lack.

Build a portfolio

As you develop your skillset, keep updating your portfolio to provide an overview of your successes, from recording metrics to prove success to adding client testimonials. Always tailor your portfolio to the jobs you apply for to showcase relevant skills.

What qualifications do you need to be a social media manager?

There are both formal and informal ways to gain the qualifications you need to become a social media manager. Formal routes include:

A university course

  • Take a degree in a relevant subject, such as advertising, marketing and PR, digital and social media marketing, internet design, journalism or business management

  • Look for degrees offering work placements to give you experience and a head start

  • You’ll need 2-3 A levels or equivalent to enrol on a degree course

An apprenticeship, of which there are three levels:

  • Multi-channel Marketer Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship – requires 5 GCSEs (Grade C/4 or higher) including English and maths

  • Digital Community Manager Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship – requires 4-5 GCSEs (Grade C/4 or higher) and A Levels

  • Digital Marketer Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship – also requires 4-5 GCSEs (Grade C/4 or higher) and A Levels

If you’re working towards becoming a social media manager – perhaps via a junior position or in a related role such as advertising or marketing – then you may wish to improve your prospects by gaining additional qualifications. Professional bodies like the Institute of Data and Marketing and The Chartered Institute of Marketing offer some, or you can investigate other, shorter courses, such as:

1-2-day courses

These are delivered in person or online by a single trainer and offer a brief introduction to key concepts or specific platforms. They’re best for those looking for a brief introduction to specific concepts or platforms.

Digital marketing boot camps

These are designed to provide a faster, more affordable alternative to a full-blown degree course. Courses are split into modules and last weeks or months. They’re often in-person, which means taking night or weekend classes.

Executive education programmes

These may be a better fit for those with day jobs, as they’re designed to be flexible and taken online, making them easier to fit around other responsibilities.

Are social media courses worth it?

Yes, social media courses provide you with everything from a brief overview of core social media concepts to detailed breakdowns of how each platform works and how to use them. Those starting out from scratch may be tempted by more formal qualifications that require years of study (either part-time or full-time), however.

What skills do you need to become a good social media manager?

A good social media manager must acquire a broad set of skills, including:

  • General marketing skills. These translate well from traditional marketing and advertising roles

  • Organisational skills. This includes the ability to manage content calendars and projects

  • Creativity. At the very least, you need to be adept at writing copy, but you may also need to specialise in other fields like graphic design

  • Flexibility and a willing to learn: You must be able to keep up with the latest trends, emerging technologies and more.

A good social media manager must also be familiar with:

  • Social media platforms. You need to know which ones are the best fit for your brand or client and how to use them to reach your target audiences

  • Platform tools. These enable you to compose, schedule, promote and analyse your content and campaigns

  • Social listening. You need to know where to find your audience and how to meet their needs

  • Analytics and SEO. These help you track the success of your content to improve its performance and inform future campaigns

Is being a social media manager a hard job?

Social media is constantly evolving as platforms and trends come and go and algorithms are updated. You need to blend a wide range of skills and abilities, including the ability to strategise. You also need to be organised and adapt quickly to new developments and emerging platforms.

In a full-time role, you can expect to work 38 to 40 hours per week, but this may involve working weekends and evenings if you need to attend events. You may also be forced to update your learning in your own time and be on call to react to breaking developments.

What does a social media manager do daily?

A social media manager’s daily responsibilities aren’t too dissimilar to those of marketing in general. However, because of the speed at which social media operates, the day-to-day work is more hectic. Responsibilities include:

  • Develop content strategies and set up editorial calendars for posting content

  • Write, adapt and publish content through various social media channels

  • Set up and maintain brand guidelines to ensure consistency across all platforms

  • Monitor brand mentions and respond promptly to comments and feedback

  • Track content and campaigns using analytics to measure success

  • Analyse results and tweak campaigns in real time to boost engagement and reach

  • Compile and share reports with senior management to demonstrate success, plus discuss ways to improve current and future campaigns

  • Keep abreast of the latest trends and developments – and be prepared to update existing skills and learn new ones

How much should you charge as a beginner social media manager?

According to the National Careers Service, an entry-level social media manager can expect to earn around £25,000 per year in a salaried role. Experienced social media managers can expect good pay – up to £60,000 per year. 

Apprentices earn less – around £16,000 for a full-time Level 6 Degree apprenticeship, or £6,000 for a part-time (21 hours per week over three days) Level 3 role.

Freelance social media manager rates vary wildly according to experience and the clients you’re able to attract. According to UK recruitment platform Bark, you can expect to charge £15-20 per hour for basic social media management. You should be able to charge a higher hourly rate (£20-50) for more comprehensive services, with the figure rising to over £100 per hour once you gain more experience and demand for your services.

How do you get paid as a social media manager?

If you work for a company or an agency, you will be paid a salary. If you work freelance, you will need to charge clients for your work. This may be a fixed hourly, daily or monthly rate, or you might agree to a flat fee for a specific project.

What do I need to help me be a social media manager?

Whether you’re just starting your career or looking to move into social media management from another sphere (including related roles such as marketing and PR), you’ll almost certainly need some training. You’ll also need to regularly top up your knowledge to keep up with the latest trends and new platforms.

If you can’t fund training from another source, such as your employer, you’ll need to pay for courses yourself. You may be able to get some form of student-based loan or support, or the course provider may allow you to spread the cost over a set period. Failing that, you may need to look at taking out a personal loan.

If you’re starting out as a freelance social media manager and want to set up your own social media business, then check out our business guide for help and advice. This includes a guide to securing funding through a business start-up loan.


Do social media managers work from home?

Freelance social media managers can work from home entirely or partially – it depends on their employer’s attitude to homeworking. There’s no pressing need for social media managers to be in the office full-time, particularly if they’re the only members of their team, but there will usually be times when you’ll need to be in your own office if you work in-house or visit clients at their place of work for face-to-face meetings.

Can you be a social media manager as a side hustle?

It’s possible to be a social media manager part-time, particularly if you’re freelance or work for an agency that spreads your work across multiple clients. While many social media managers work regular weekday hours, it’s more likely that part-timers or freelance social media managers will need to be more flexible. This is because you may have to meet a client’s specific needs or work to tight deadlines.

Is being a social media manager a good job for introverts?

In many cases, social media management is a good fit for introverted individuals. The skills required to be a social media manager are similar to those commonly found in introverts, including creativity, analytical thinking, adaptability, listening, and building relationships. Look for jobs in smaller companies or agencies, where groups are smaller and there are more opportunities to work independently.

These unsecured and secured loans could help you grow your business, cover running costs or even fund a new company.

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