social media manager (2024 Guide)

What Does a Social Media Specialist Do?

BrainStation’s Social Media Specialist career guide is intended to help you take the first steps toward a lucrative new career in digital marketing. Find out more about what a Social Media Specialist does.

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A Social Media Specialist is responsible for creating and publishing content on all social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to grow an audience, build brand awareness, and ultimately, boost sales.

A Social Media Specialist may also oversee site metrics, interact with readers, and be responsible for creative design.

A Social Media Specialist should understand the targeted audience for each social channel, creating persuasive content that strikes a chord with the intended audience, and unique to the typical interactions of each channel.

A creative Social Media Specialist will also likely be responsible for devising strategy, community management, creative directing, customer service, copywriting, and analyzing data.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Social Media Marketing Specialist?

Social Media Marketing Specialists are responsible for planning a brand’s social media strategy. This involves building out a cohesive plan that suits overarching company goals, strategizing tactics to achieve those goals, and generally exploring, testing, and optimizing different social media channels to suit a brand’s audience.

The steps of a Social Media Specialist can be broken down into strategizing, engaging, creating, scheduling, listening, measuring, and experimenting. Although larger social or digital marketing teams will likely include a Social Media Manager or even a dedicated Social Media Strategist, everyone on the team will be expected to have an understanding of strategy and a mind for the big picture.

First, you’ll need to establish a specific goal (such as traffic or registrations), and align your social media tactics to meet that goal. For example, if you’re looking to build awareness amongst young shoppers, you might decide to build an influencer program on Instagram.

From there, you’ll need to engage with your audience on social, build a brand voice and create content that resonates with your audience. Each channel has its own algorithm and tactics for optimization, in this way, scheduling is also a big part of what Social Media Specialists do, ensuring that posts are scheduled regularly and at optimal days and times on specific channels.

As those elements are established, a Social Media Specialist also needs to measure results by tracking metrics and insights on each platform. There are social media marketing tools that help consolidate these results so that it’s easy to see which channels are most effective and what content elicits the most engagement. With this data, Social Media Specialists are able to experiment with new content and optimize high-performing social media posts.

Some Social Media Specialists will also be responsible for paid strategies and will need to be adept at using tools such as Facebook Ads Manager or other paid options on channels like LinkedIn or Quora, for example.

Social Media Specialist Job Description

Social Media Specialist responsibilities could vary depending on the job and the size and configuration of the overall digital marketing team, but the standard Social Media Specialist job description on most job boards will likely list all or most of the following job responsibilities:

  • Develop, implement and manage our social media strategy after conducting competitive research, platform determination, messaging, and audience identification
  • Plan, create, publish and share new content (including original text, images, video, and code) on a daily basis that builds meaningful customer connections, increases brand awareness, and encourages community members to engage with the brand
  • Collaborate with sales and marketing teams to develop social media campaigns
  • Stay up to date with the latest social media best practices and technologies
  • Set up and optimize company pages within each platform to increase the visibility of company’s social content
  • Monitor SEO and customer engagement and suggest content optimization
  • Moderate user-generated content in line with the moderation policy
  • Collaborate with sales, web design, web development, digital marketing, customer relations and product development teams
  • Create editorial calendars and syndication schedules
  • Capture and analyze the appropriate social data/metrics, insights, and social media best practices to measure the success of every social media campaign, then use that information to refine future campaigns
  • Work with copywriters and designers to ensure content is informative and appealing
  • Bolster your network by interacting with industry professionals and influencers via social media

What Does a Social Media Specialist Do All Day?

Social Media Specialists spend their days planning and executing social media strategies, creating and publishing content to a variety of platforms, and interacting with their communities and audiences.

A Social Media Specialist also needs to measure results by tracking metrics and insights on each platform. There are social media management tools that help consolidate these results so that it’s easy to see which channels are most effective and what content elicits the most engagement.

The goal is to gradually achieve superior customer engagement and intimacy, website traffic, and revenue by strategically exploiting all aspects of the social media marketing roadmap.

Social Media Specialists should have a solid understanding of how each social media channel works and how to optimize content so that it is engaging across multiple social media channels. You are responsible for joining relevant conversations on behalf of the brand and “soft selling” the product by providing support to current and prospective customers.

What Is the Role of a Social Media Specialist?

A Social Media Specialist is responsible for directly interacting with network users and virtual communities through their company’s social media accounts to build brand awareness, which in turn, generates results and sales.

Generally, their work involves getting people excited about a topic that is associated with a brand through the creation and distribution of engaging content that people identify with. Often, the Social Media Specialist collaborates closely with the marketing department to improve the company’s online presence across multiple social media platforms.

To succeed as a Social Media Specialist, you must be fluent in social media with hands-on skills and knowledge of multiple social media platforms and awareness of current trends. You should have excellent communication skills including writing, editing, SEO, storytelling, and presentation ability with a strong sense of who the segment audience is and how to give them content that will appeal to them.

It’s also important to have competence with networking tools, such as Hootsuite and others, that make it possible to manage several social media accounts from a single dashboard.

What Is the Difference Between a Social Media Specialist and a Social Media Manager?

The difference between Social Media Specialists and Social Media Managers is that in larger companies with more developed social media teams, Social Media Specialists have more of a focus on day-to-day operations than Social Media Managers, although they may assist with social audits and strategy as well.

Social Media Specialists are mostly concerned with implementation. They write social copy, communicate with the public through comments, and always keep an eye on what’s trending. They also need to have an awareness of key influencers in their industry to spread their brand message and make valuable connections.

Social Media Specialists also track and analyze social media KPIs and check up on ROI. And don’t forget: they also publish and promote content on social media, usually by scheduling it in advance with the help of an editorial calendar.

While Social Media Specialists usually have social strategy as an important part of their role, Social Media Managers might have more control over guiding the process, setting budgets, and evaluating performance. (Social Media Strategists, meanwhile, make social strategy their top priority.)

Generally speaking, Social Media Managers plan an organization’s strategy around marketing, advertising, and finding new leads. They also likely are involved with performing audits to evaluate the effectiveness of their strategy.

That said, although Social Media Manager jobs are typically more senior than Social Media Specialist positions, some organizations do use the terms almost interchangeably, so the specifics of every job will be different.

How to Be a Good Social Media Manager

Social media professionals tend to have a lot in common. Even though the specifics of every social media job are different, there are some characteristics every successful Social Media Marketer seems to share.

Here are nine tips for being a good Social Media Manager:

1. They Love Social Media

Social Media Marketers spend an inordinate amount of time reading, browsing, scrolling, posting, responding, and interacting on social media. They live their lives on social media and rarely step away from their feeds.

An effective Social Media Specialist genuinely loves jumping in on online discussions, growing communities, and interacting with others on the job.

From there, the best digital marketing pros become experts in their field, standing out from the pack by writing thought-provoking blog posts, speaking at events and conferences, and networking with other influencers and thought-leaders.

That raises their profile and in turn, makes them more valuable to prospective digital marketing employers who see the extent of their influence and social media experience.

2. They Understand How to Communicate With Different Audiences

There’s no getting around it: succeeding as a social media pro requires top-notch communication skills. Social Media Manager job duties will require that you know how to communicate clearly and courteously when replying to comments from customers or community members. Social media pros have to know how to be warm, friendly, and helpful while staying true to the brand voice that’s been established.

An effective Social Media Marketer is almost like a public relations expert and will know the brand’s audience inside and out – while also understanding how that demographic will change depending on the specific social media channels being used. Ensuring customers and users only have a positive experience is one of the biggest Social Media Specialist job responsibilities.

3. They Know How to Write

Again, writing and communication skills are a must for any social media job.

With the surplus of information swirling on the Internet, you need to know how to write clear, concise, and compelling content that will engage a reader (and, if you’re writing blog posts for a company website, your writing must also incorporate keywords and search terms to leverage SEO tactics).

It is important for businesses on social media to maintain a steady flow of well-written, accurate, and timely content. It’s the social media marketing professional’s job to ensure that the brand’s pages stay relevant by publishing share-worthy content.

4. They “Get” Pop Culture

Every effective social media pro needs to have their finger on the pulse of pop culture, sports, politics, and everything else that’s going on in the “real world.”

Any trending topic could potentially affect the social content that you’re planning, promoting, and programming. In a world where scheduled tweets collide with real-time marketing and real-world events, a social media pro has to be completely on top of everything that’s happening to both identify opportunities and also spot any huge reputational risks that could come with an ill-timed tweet or post.

Further, being “in” on discussions that are happening will lead to fun ideas for highly shareable content.

5. They’re Creative Thinkers

Social media platforms give brands the opportunity to showcase what makes them unique. Standing out in a crowded social media landscape means thinking outside the box.

A Social Media Marketer has an eye for fresh and relevant material. Consumers have their own systems of filtering out and unfollowing content and brands that do not hold any relevance for them. This also means having the time management skills to post content while it’s still timely. In an age of instantaneous information, your social media profiles must provide strong material that followers aren’t seeing elsewhere or you’ll fall to the wayside.

6. They Have an Eye for Design

It’s rare that you’ll simply be posting text to social media. Research has found that social media posts with images receive much more engagement and roughly half of consumers want to experience more video content in the future.

Designing and creating eye-catching visual content is becoming an essential part of any social media management job.

7. They’re Analytical

Every great social media strategist keeps numbers top of mind. They define KPIs and monitor whether or not they are meeting their job goals at every step of a social media campaign, sometimes adjusting course if their content isn’t connecting the way it should be.

All Social Media Marketers need to understand how to leverage data, not just to improve their content and unearth insights about their customers, but also to prove the social ROI of the work you’ve been doing.

If math isn’t your thing, there are lots of social media marketing tools that can simplify analytics. Using those in combination with Google Analytics should give you a great view of how your campaign is performing.

8. They’re Savvy About Business

Being able to author viral content is great – but understanding how your social media marketing strategy fits within a larger overall business strategy is even better. A social media pro who really sees the big picture and understands his or her role within it would be extremely valuable to any digital marketing team.

Effective social media marketing experts understand which metrics are most relevant to the business and how a social media marketing strategy can help to boost them.

9. They’re Dedicated to Learning

Knowledge is power no matter which industry or profession you’re working in, but in fields as fast-changing as social media and digital marketing, certainly it requires a dedication to lifelong learning to thrive.

You’ll need to constantly stay updated about the latest social media tool updates, algorithm changes, and SEO trends. You should also stay open to upskilling with additional training, an online certification course or a bootcamp. BrainStation’s Digital Skills Training Survey found that 89 percent of digital marketing professionals said they would benefit from additional training, so adopting that attitude would be a wise thing for any would-be Social Media Marketer to do.


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