The 411 on becoming a social media manager

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September 19th 2023

The 411 on becoming a social media manager

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Welcome to every millennial and Gen Z babies’ dream job! You guessed it: it’s Social Media Management! Scrolling on social media all day without feeling guilty and getting paid for it? Sign me up – because that’s what you’re thinking, right? Well yes, but also no.

This week on Parallel we’re deep diving into what a typical Social Media Manager does during their 9 to 5, what education is required to get there, what salary you should be expecting and what companies are currently on the hunt for a Social Media Manager.

What does a social media manager do?

…in reality, it’s more like what doesn’t a Social Media Manager do. On the surface, the role typically encompasses building, maintaining and growing brand identity, awareness, and loyalty across social platforms. From Instagram to TikTok to Pinterest to Twitter and LinkedIn – expect to get very familiar with every online hotspot.

Additionally, don’t be surprised if companies sprinkle copywriting, content creation, graphic design and videography tasks on you (because trust us: they will). Social Media Managers who can provide a 360° service are utterly invaluable – and exceedingly sort after.

A day in the life of a social media manager

Oh, you think that posting on your own social accounts is exhausting? You’re going to need a cup of coffee (or four) before chasing the ever-changing Instagram algorithm. Of course: there are little luxuries. If you’re already addicted to the social grind, you’re intuitively in-sync with the pace of this 9 to 5. Or make it 11 till… 11.

Social media runs on its own timeline and it’s not always in sync with your timezone. But on the bright side, your pyjamas can be your WFH fit. Expect to be:

  • Curating, creating, captioning and then scheduling social media content across all platforms

  • Monitoring and responding to the analytics connected to a brands social media accounts on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis

  • Scouting for engagement opportunities, collaborating with content creators and organically interacting with users

  • Developing and pitching strategies, and content calendars, to meet company objectives

This career is for you if:
  • You are social media savvy (and slightly addicted to social media)

  • You’ve got your finger to the pulse on cultural/social issues

  • You’re personable with the ability to connect with others online

  • You’re a quick study – if you don’t know something, you learn it

  • You’re a multi-disciplinary creative

  • You’re strategic – scheduling doesn’t scare you

Education requirements

The trend continues! Like Software Engineering and Product Management, a degree isn’t required to fulfill your Social Media Management dreams. While degrees in Communications, Marketing, Public Relations, Photography or Graphic Design definitely add a star to your CV – courses like Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate, educational articles by Hootsuite or even your own personal social media account (influencers – it’s your time to shine) can help buff up any gaps you have in higher-education. We’ve even curated some key books to binge:

Let’s get into the money

While some clients may make the rookie mistake of initially low-balling the salary of a Social Media Manager – brands that have previously employed “superstar” Social Media Managers will know your worth.

Depending on your education, experience and how diverse your skillset is – rates and salaries differ considerably (typical of most creative industries). Currently though, Glassdoor reposts the average salary for a Social Media Manager in USA is currently at $48k.

Pro Tip: if you can successfully manage multiple clients’ social media accounts as a freelancer – you’ll likely earn more, compared to working in-house. If invoicing hourly, we recommend going no lower that $25 USD.

According to a social media manager

We spoke to Aimée Green, Parallel’s Social Lead who freelances between France and New Zealand, on her tips and tricks to breaking into – and flourishing in – the industry.

I’m going to be honest. While I definitely don’t want to endorse unpaid internships, as I’m very aware of my privilege to be able to afford to take that opportunity, almost 80% of the jobs I’ve landed stem from the connections I made back in 2018 when interning at a popular UK magazine.

The trick of it all? From internships to in-house gigs, contracting to freelancing – I’ve always carefully curated the brands I work with, targeting clients whose visual identity and mission I align with. Because of this, I genuinely connect with coworkers/clients and their audience, my creative skillset has flourished, and the combination of the two has always organically attracted future work in the industry for me.

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