What Does a Social Media Manager Really Do All Day?

UPDATE: I wrote this in 2010 as I was just getting started in my social media career. Much has changed, but much of what I’ve written here is still valid. Since I still get many shares, questions and comments I’m leaving most of it alone – feel free to continue to comment!

Confused woman in red shirt
What does a social media manager do all day?

When I first started my career as a corporate Social Media Analyst I had to explain my job to almost everyone I met. It was difficult convincing them that I wasn’t paid to play around on Facebook and Twitter all day since most folks at that time were familiar with the mediums only as a recreational tool. I remember having a difficult time explaining to my mother just what it was I was going to do all day. I also remember feeling compelled to explain to my office mates that, if they saw me on Facebook or surfing the Internet I was, in fact, working.

Social media sites are fun places to hang out (over 600 million on Facebook seem to think so anyway) and most people use them to stay in touch with friends from school, family and to play games or read the news. It might, for some, seem fanciful to make a career out of what, for most, is nothing but a pastime.

The truth is that careers in social media are becoming mainstream. Look around Facebook and you’ll notice that companies like Ford are embracing social media as a legitimate marketing tool. In 2010 Ford experimented with social media by launching their new Ford Explorer exclusively on their Facebook page. 

You might be wondering where Social Media Managers come from and what they do all day.

Where does a Social Media Manager come from?

Social Media Managers typically come from a marketing or business background with a heavy reliance on web-based technologies. Some come from Internet or IT positions, some from traditional marketing and some from web design. A communications or journalism background is typical too. Most have a mix of traditional marketing and Internet technology skills with a strong writing or communications skill set.

What is a typical day like for a Social Media Manager?

The first thing most social media managers will do each morning is check all social media channels to see if there are any mentions of their company or brand.  Social media never sleeps and since conversations on social media require an immediate response, a manager will follow up first thing, or reach out to department heads to develop a response. There is a real-time sensitivity to this activity, so timeliness is a priority.

After initial conversations are addressed, social media managers may spend time brainstorming or writing blog or web site content, planning and strategizing future campaigns, meeting with department heads to ensure strategies are on-track with marketing and customer service, and tracking campaigns and reporting. A portion of their day will be spent reading trend reports and business articles to stay in touch with the latest technologies and social media marketing theories.

Reporting is a huge part of any marketing campaign and social media is no exception. Of course, social media analysts will track basic stats like followers, click-throughs, fans, comments and traffic, but we also monitor conversations happening around the brand both on and off our pages and carefully structure responses that are in line with the company’s strategy. Often, social media managers will meet regularly with multiple departments to educate staff about the focus of the social media channel and the ways in which they can contribute and support the efforts.

The takeaway? Social Media Managers do more than tweet and post to Facebook. They are responsible for a multitude of company functions and must create relationships within the company to support their efforts.

Is a Social Media Manager simply a new-fangled marketing position?

A social media manager is position is part marketing, yes, but it’s also much more. Social Media positions include elements of customer service, product knowledge, company culture and employee relations, and a typical day might involve all these elements at once. These various responsibilities require good communication skills and the ability to gather information from multiple areas within the company. If you’re interviewing for potential candidates, check out my blog on 21 Social Media Manager Interview Questions to make sure you’re hiring a professional.

At the end of the day…

A Social Media Manager position is about promoting a company’s brand and company culture through new technologies and non-traditional platforms while interacting with current and potential customers in a real-time environment. It’s more than just posting to Facebook and Twitter.  It is a fast-paced and challenging career that continues to evolve, and since the internet is never turned off, it can often be all consuming. 

So rest assured Mom, I do have a real job – honest!

If you’re ready to hire a professional social media manager, contact me to get started!


43 thoughts on “What Does a Social Media Manager Really Do All Day?

  1. Thank you for this post! I sent it to my Mom, to help her “Get it” and I am sending it to my company’s President and Head of Marketing to help them understand exactly what they hired me to do! (We are an established company, but are just now venturing into Social Media – which is why they hired me.) I will be following your posts from now on – great info!

    1. Tanya,
      I’m always thrilled when I hear one of my posts has helped someone with their work. What does your company do? I’d love to hear how you’re leveraging social media to accomplish your goals.

      If you haven’t already, you’re welcome to subscribe to my blog via email using the email subscription button. I also hope you’ll join me on Facebook at http://facebook.com/carminemedia or on Twitter @suereynolds. I’d love to hear your suggestions and input there.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Sue

      1. We are a software company serving the heavy equipment (construction, agriculture, lift truck) industry. We have no social media presence yet – they have recently hired me to create one. I am in the research/plan phase right now. Our goal with social media is to build a community where our customers can learn about topics relevant to them, and where we can better serve them by ensuring we are meeting their needs and that they are using our software to it’s fullest potential!

  2. It sounds like they’ve made a wise decision in using social media for their needs. Good luck with your project and of course if you have questions feel free to contact me!
    Sue

  3. Hi,

    I am really interested to start my career in marketing and research. I believe social media analyst is a good place to start. I am thankful to for this valuable information you have shared and this helped me a lot to know about the job and to prepare for the interviews

  4. I’m a Social Media Strategist and just wanted to see the difference from what an SM Analyst does and it looks like they do similar things with a few differences and I’d like to thank you for this article. Haha, I love the last part, I do have a real job, I promise! lol

    1. Hi Jonha, The position is most likely the same or very similar. My company uses the word “analyst” in many of their technical positions; however, social media strategy is really what I do. I’m glad you enjoyed the article! Sue

  5. There really isn’t the role of a social media analyst at all. This is a community manager. An analyst measures the results of each social campaign. It is a lot more than simply report also. We find out what worked, and what didn’t but go an extra step to determine, why, and how. We take that boatload of data, and use it to optimize future campaigns, as well as make ROI calculations on each activity.

    1. Evan – you’re correct. These titles are fluid right now as the industry grows and changes and for me, what started out as an analyst position quickly grew into community management. I’m glad you noticed!

  6. I’m interested in transitioning from the banking industry to this field and would like some tips if you have any

    1. Read everything you can read, make sure your personal profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc) are up to date and full of content that reflects your passion about social media and begin marketing yourself. Good luck!

    1. It can be 24/7, yes. You have to be prepared to handle a crisis and have a plan in place to reach decision-makers in your company if you need help. It’s typically better to work in an office unless you’re doing consulting for multiple businesses – then you can work at home. In that case it is critical that you communicate with the businesses you support regularly.

  7. I work as a Social Media Analyst myself and so I could relate to this article very conveniently. Till date, I am having to explain to many about what I really do(that its not just being on Facebook/Twitter all day long). Thank you for such a nice article. It was a good read.Cheers!!!

  8. Hi Sue,

    Great article! I have a Masters in Computer Science and would like to step into the social media world. What in your opinion are the minimum basic qualifications needed to fill shoes of a social media manager?
    Thanks
    Meg

    1. A social media manager is a cross functional position – it requires marketing, human resource, customer service, IT, web and SEO knowledge, business acumen and, of course, communication skills. It’s not a typically 9-5 job, but it is very challenging and rewarding. Good luck to you!!

  9. hi 🙂
    i have just completed my grad in b.a n kinda confused bout wat to do next…. i have worked for an advertising agency as a media manager….wat r my chances of gettin a job as a media analyst ?

  10. Thanks for this article, but as Evan mentioned it, it seems more like a community manager job description rather than the effective role of a Social Media Analyst. To me, the Social Media Analyst is much more an “Analyst” of the all online brand reputation.

    1. You are correct. The roles in social media are still being defined and they often go by different titles depending on the organization. In my case I’m called an Analyst due to the naming conventions in our corporate culture. In another corporation I’d be called a community manager, social media manager or even social media strategist. Thanks for your insights!

  11. It’s a great article. Most of the people don’t know the role and responsibilities of social media analyst and most HR(Human Resource Team) who interviewed the candidate don’t have such knowledge what they hired for? In everybody’s mind, first think came is that we social media analyst are only posting in top social networks there is nothing importance role in this Digital Marketing. I hope from this article they will get full knowledge what exactly we are doing.

  12. Hi Sue,its very nice article about Media Analyst.I did my graduation in science and then did a course in Visual effects and then worked as an artist in a reputed firm.how can i step into this field ???? can you give me any suggestion ?? how do i start and where should i find jobs like this ???

    Thank you

  13. Hi Sue-

    My name is Erin Jahn and i’m a Management information systems major at the University of Texas at Austin. As my degree progresses i’ve taken many different types of computer classes, it wasn’t until this last semester in my Social Media Analytics class that i finally had “that feeling” that it was what i wanted to be doing after graduation.

    I”m reaching out to you in hopes of any advice you may have as i begin my career search with the expectation and goal of reaching a job in social media marketing and/or analysis.

    Best,

    Erin

    1. Thanks for your comment Erin. The best advice I can give you is to start learning as much as you can about social media by reading blogs and by setting up your own accounts for testing purposes. Start your own blog to get the feel of the tools and do some research, then start looking for an internship! Real life experience will be your best teacher. Good luck and let me know what happens! Sue

  14. hi,
    I am being offered a job as a social media analyst and I have completed my masters in pharmacy. and I am a fresher most of my friends believe its a useless work and I wont get to progress. Is it a good profession to start with as a fresher?

    1. It’s an excellent profession for people pursuing a career in digital marketing or content development! If that’s your passion than I recommend the position. If you’re interested in pharmacy you may want to wait until a position in that field opens up.

  15. Hi Sue,
    Thanks for such a good and interesting article. I had my first job interview as a social media analyst yesterday. I have my background in product management and Marketing. What I love to do is all stuff with reporting, controlling and to put results together to find answers to things happening online concerning a company.
    I used to plan online and offline campaign in my last job. But actually I never worked with such monitoring tools. And that’s what I have some thoughts. Some people told me they are easy to handle and others say these tools are very difficult to use. I’m talkin about radian6, buzz, brand watch etc.

    In a nutshell: I’m loving statistics, reporting, controlling and stuff. But I don’t have a profound knowledge of social media. I mean of course I’m a young person and I use them every day by myself (private). But on a company level I don’t have experiences.

    Is that enough to start a social media analyst?

    1. Michael,
      If you’ve continued your career in social media by now you’ve probably realized that everything you mention here relates to the overall position! Measuring your success and using what the data tells you to align your posts with the audience reaction is critical to success. Good luck!

  16. Isn’t the job description you mentioned is closer to a Social Media Manager than an Analyst? Just seeking clarification.

  17. Hi,
    actually, a lot changed sins the article had been released. Luckily now, we have som great tools which makes job of a social media analyst faster, easier and most effective.
    I use BRAND24.com for real-time internet monitoring and analyzes. It’s easy to use, efficient and affordable solution for social listening. It gives instant access to all public mentions, allows to track and engage online conversations and gives analyses of reach, sentiment, and influence.
    My work now is more about use this data and improve processes inside the company, teach other entrepreneurs hot effective use social listening and get benefits from it. And social listening is now more about building relationships, building community and social selling.

    One thing is for sure: social listening is crucial nowadays!

  18. Nice read! I recently joined a company as a Digital Media Analyst. Although I am from Marketing background still I am confused about what exactly my new role demands. Please guide me how to start, what strategies am I to make, infact how to stay involved the whole day since most of the day flies off thinking about what to do next. Any help would be appreciated. Thankx in advance.

    1. Sweety,
      Most of your day will involve planning and interacting with the business behind the scenes in order to position the company on social and align your activities with their business goals. Make sure you are interacting with sales, marketing, and customer service to better understand how your posts work toward their larger communication efforts. Good luck!

  19. Hello mam
    I am house wife and a mother of a two year old. Can anyone be social media analyst ?
    Can I earn too? If yes how to go for it

    1. Hi Shar! In order to manage a brand on social media it’s important that you have a strong background in communications and business, as well as design and video production. If you have these skills and enjoy interacting on social media it’s possible there’s a career for you out there! Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.