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How to Become a Social Media Manager: Best Online Degrees

Learn how to become a social media manager

What is a social media manager? These professionals, who are part marketing gurus, part communication experts, part public-relation masters, and part tech whizzes, form the foundation of a company’s social media efforts.

People are online more than ever before, and many (probably most) of these people have social media accounts. According to Statista, in July of 2021 there were over 2.85 billion active users on Facebook, 2.29 billion on Twitter, and 1.38 billion on Instagram. TikTok, a rising social media platform, had 732 million active users, while Snapchat had 514 million.

The message is simple: there are lots of people using social media. 21st century companies, if they want to attract attention for their products and services, need to be active on these sites as well.

To be certain, companies can, and do, thrive without using social media. But the major players in global industry, as well as countless small and medium-sized businesses, have some sort of presence on social media.

It’s simply not enough just to be on social media. It has to be done right. It has to advertise the services without being too pushy; it doesn’t just need to draw attention, it needs to earn attention.

For this reason, many companies turn to social media managers.

To become a social media manager, you need the right personal traits and interests. But you also need social media manager training and a top-quality education, possibly a social media manager degree.

If this sounds interesting to you, keep reading to learn how to become a social media manager. You’ll discover how much money you could earn, what do social media managers do, and what benefits you’ll enjoy throughout this evolving, exciting career!

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Managing social media sounds fairly simple, but it can actually be quite complicated and often includes numerous tasks beyond simply posting images to a company’s profile. What does a social media manager do? It turns out they do quite a lot!

Social media managers are responsible for creating the overall social media presence and personality for a company. They build brand awareness, engage with people on various sites, and create a positive, well-received image for the company, organization, or agency. They do everything from define the overall strategy to actively posting on different sites. They also track metrics, assign roles, and create goals for user interactions.

A social media manager’s primary responsibility, however, is the creation, posting, and monitoring of social media platforms. This could include scheduling posts, writing copy for different sites, and collaborating with employees to create content for the platforms.

Before actively posting to social media (or delegating another to do so), a social media manager is usually responsible for creating the overall campaign strategy. This strategy will start by looking at the overall goals. What’s the purpose behind all of these postings? It is simply to raise overall brand awareness, increase leads for sales staff, or to generate higher sales numbers? Once the goal is determined, a social media manager will create the overall strategy, which will include the types of posts that will be created, what types of demographics will be targeted, what sites will be used, and how often users will post to the sites.

A social media manager needs to know whether their efforts are succeeding. Therefore, they will analyze data and try to draw conclusions about their efforts. This data can include number of followers, click-throughs (when social media users click on your links), or comments.

These are the overall social media manager duties that are part of a social media manager’s job. However, there can be many other responsibilities, including:

  • Editing or reviewing posts before final publish
  • Communicating with graphics designers, writers, and site builders
  • Interacting with customers on behalf of the organization
  • Researching the latest social media platforms

Clearly they do a lot to help companies and organizations. These social media manager duties can be challenging, and require both creativity and sound technical knowledge. They require a knowledge of numbers and an interest in others. An education is important for this career, but to meet the top social media manager qualifications, you need the right skills.

What Traits are Needed for Social Media Manager Jobs?

There are some specific skills that are needed to work as a social media manager and meet the basic social media manager qualifications. If you become a social media manager, these skills will help in your career, and many are the same skills needed for marketing. However, there are also some inherent traits and characteristics that, while perhaps not essential, will help you be a successful, long-lasting, and happy professional in this career.

Social media manager skills are broad and diverse. In general, a good social media manager will blend creative thought with an analytic mind, all held together with a people-centric attitude. Creativity is important to this career, as you need to find new, interesting, and original ways to communicate with people and encourage interactions. You can’t just work through a tired template of social media posts, you need to be able to come up with unique posts and strategies that stand out from the competition. There are billions of people on social media, and countless companies jockeying for their attention. You can’t stand out without a little creativity.

You also need an analytic mind. While you will learn analytic skills during social media management training and education, having a mind that is comfortable with, and even enjoys, analytics and statistics will help.

As a social media manager, you also need flexibility and a comfort with the unknown. If you prefer a job where everyday is predictable, this career is not for you. But if you want a position that brings new challenges on a daily basis, you may thrive in social media manager jobs.

If you have the skills needed for marketing and social media advertising, you may want to know how to become a social media manager…

4 Steps to Become a Social Media Manager

Want to know how to become a social media manager? Here are the important steps for social media manager training and working in this career…

  1. Graduate from high school
  2. Complete social media management training with an associate's or bachelor's degree
  3. Continue your education with a master's degree (optional)
  4. Build your social media manager skills through certificates and continuing education

Social Media Manager Education & Training

Social media manager education requirements are broad and diverse. There is no specific path to become a social media manager, but most employers will prefer a candidate with at least a bachelor’s degree. An associate’s degree may be enough for some positions, while a master’s degree could add to your job options and earning potential.

Regardless of the degree, your education should include, in some form, marketing, communication, business administration, technology, and public relations.

What Degree is Required?

The most direct and obvious route to become a social media manager will be a bachelor’s degree in social media management, an education that is offered by a variety of online institutions. These programs deliver a social media manager course that prepares you to work as the highest level.

Many programs offer social media management as part of their business administration program. For example, you may be enrolled in an online bachelor’s of science in business administration with a concentration in social media management. Or, depending on the institution, you may be enrolled in a bachelor’s of arts in social media management; it all depends on how the school organizes and presents their programs. Regardless of how they are organized, this program will help you meet the social media manager education requirements for many jobs.

With a bachelor’s degree to become a social media manager, you will have a list of university core classes, as well as classes that relate directly to your major. For social media management, classes may include the basic principles of marketing, media ethics, digital marketing, writing for public relations, social media practices, and social media analytics. In the end, you’ll be able to apply effective management practices and marketing skills to a company or organization’s social media presence.

You don’t necessarily have to complete a degree in social media management to work in this field. Degrees in business administration, marketing, communication, and even journalism could help you land one of these excellent positions.

A social media manager may not need a bachelor’s degree. If you want a faster path towards this career, an associate degree could be a solution. These programs generally focus specifically on the social media aspects, although some core courses may be required. If you take this route, you will complete schooling in about two years, but your earnings will likely be lower and you’ll have fewer job opportunities.

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Some professionals may prefer to take their education even higher by obtaining a master’s degree in social media management. Social media manager school at the master’s level will usually require an additional three or four semesters of study after a bachelor’s degree. But they build your knowledge and skillset in a specific profession and help you learn social media management at a higher level. In social media management, a course could include market research, strategic communication, brand management, and more.

What About Certification?

Certification is not a requirement for this career, but it could help improve your skills and form you into better job candidate for the top positions. While not mandatory, certification also shows a willingness to stay at the leading edge of the industry and creates a significant boost to your social media manager resume.

Some schools offer certificates in social media management. This form of social media manager training makes a great addition to a social media manager course like an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. Certificates are usually fast-track programs that are completed in about three to four months and build your knowledge on a highly specific subject, such as content marketing or social media strategy.

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Career Overview

It’s not enough to know how to become a social media manager, you need to know whether you will enjoy this career. As we’ll show, this can be an extremely difficult yet unique career that brings engaging challenges everyday.

Pros of Being a Social Media Manager

The process for how to become a social media manager is fairly simple, and there are many benefits to becoming a social media manager. Most people appreciate the creative freedom they get to enjoy in this career field.

Of course, you represent a company or an organization, so you can’t just post your own random thoughts, artwork, and musings. But you do get to use your creativity in design, writing, and communication on a daily basis.

The level of creative freedom, however, will vary. On some assignments, you’ll be able to work independently, enjoying complete creative freedom to reach your goals. On other assignments, you may be given a very rigid, inflexible set of guidelines that could dampen your creative spirit. But on most projects, you’ll likely have the opportunity to flex your creative muscles.

Another advantage is the chance to work on a variety of different projects for numerous companies in various industries. If you work for a marketing company, your clients could be in manufacturing, retail, real estate, human resources, education, software, construction, social outreach, and countless other industries. This gives a level of variety rarely seen from other professions.

Downsides of this Career Choice

All careers have their downsides; becoming a social media manager is no different. In this career, you’ll have to deal with a variety of stressful situations and pressures. People expect you to deliver outstanding results immediately, but sometimes people don’t understand the intricacies of online marketing and social media management; they may expect sales to increase instantly after the first post, not realizing that it takes time to build a brand’s reputation. Many people, quite frankly, can not provide an answer when asked “what is a social media manager?”, which can create frustrations all by itself.

You also have to deal with a revolving door of social media platforms. One day, a new site looks like the next Facebook, then a week later it’s faded into internet oblivion. This can make your job frustrating, but many enjoy the variety that comes from learning a new system on a continual basis.

How Much Do Social Media Managers Make?

The salary for a social media manager can be hard to pinpoint. This is because the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), largely regarded as the authority on salary, job growth, and other employment stats, does not actually compile data on “social media managers.” Fortunately, there are a few websites that do.

Here are salaries for social media managers according to three major job-listing sites:

  • Salary.com: $42,870 to $55,350
  • Glassdoor: $54,268
  • Payscale: $52,298

While the BLS does not have data on social media managers, they do have information on public relations specialists. While not exactly the same, there are many similarities and shared skills, so this can inform us on the overall demand for people with these skills. The BLS says that a PR specialist had a median annual salary of $62,810 in May of 2020.

Earnings will fluctuate, so if you are wondering how much do social media managers make, you’ll see that there is a wide range. The more experience and talent you have, and the more you learn social media management, the more you will likely earn. However, it appears from the numbers above that most social media managers can expect a solid income.

Social Media Manager Job Outlook

Salary is far from the only consideration. Job growth is also important for many people. While the BLS does not have expected job-growth data on social media managers, they do have data on marketing and advertising careers, which provides an indication of growth for similar careers.

Advertising and promotions managers (who, by the way, have a median salary of $141,490!) are expected to see a job growth of roughly 6%, slightly higher than the national average of 4%. Public relations specialist are expected to grow by 7%, while public relations managers will grow by 9%. Market research analyst, a job that is similar in some regards, will see a growth of 18%. Clearly there will be opportunities for people who learn social media management and attend a social media manager school.

Become a Social Media Manager with Online Education

If you have the social mindset and talents to work as a social media manager, all you need is to attend the right education. Whether you need a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business, or simply want to boost your social media manager resume with a certificate, the right online education awaits you!

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