What Does a Social Media Manager Do? (Skills & Traits of Social Media Manager)

Small and medium-sized businesses usually operate their social accounts in one of three ways. Sometimes, one of the owners might run the social accounts in addition to his or her other duties. Alternatively, if the business is large enough to employ staff, they may give the task to one of the employees, possibly one of the younger clerical staff. The third option that smaller businesses use is to outsource their social media management, either to a specialist agency or perhaps to a freelancer.

Larger businesses, however, have an additional option. They often choose to hire a specialist social media manager to take charge of all things social. Indeed in some cases, they hire an entire team to run their social accounts, often expanding into such areas as reputation management and social listening.

So what makes an excellent social media manager, and what does he or she do?

What Does a Social Media Manager Do?

Desirable Skills and Traits of a Social Media Manager

Like all people, your social media manager will come with a range of skills and traits. The question you need to ask yourself is how easily you can find somebody who brings the right combination of skills and traits to the job. And there is a difference between the two terms. Skills are tangible factors that the person brings to your organization. They are measurable, and most people can learn them with enough training and on-the-job experience. A trait, on the other hand, is a personal quality that somebody has – it is an essential part of that person, part of their core personality. Someone's traits often affect how good they are at learning and performing a skill.

When choosing your social media manager, you need to look for somebody with the right mix of skills and traits. Here are some of the skills (enhanced by suitable traits) that you are most likely to focus on when selecting your social media manager.

Core Understanding of How Social Media Works

There is little point in appointing somebody to run your social accounts if they don't have a solid understanding of the world of social media. They need to know the mechanics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and other sites that are relevant to your organization. They need to understand the differences between each platform and how to get the best results from each.


Good copy is essential for all social media marketing – even on inherently visual platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. You only have so many words you can use for most social sites, and you don't want to waste them. You want each post to stand out. You need your profile pages and bios to sound exciting and say precisely the right information about you. You want your social posts to tell your story and drive engagement.

Design Skills

social media manager design skills

Source: canva.com

No matter how good your copy, you are unlikely to set the social world on fire if you don't share some eye-catching visuals. Your text may tell your story, but the design of your visuals can help deliver that message in a visually appealing way. Posts with visuals receive higher levels of engagement. It is the visual platforms like Instagram and YouTube that have enjoyed the highest growth in recent years.

Customer Service Skills

It is surprising how many people use social media to ask questions or express concerns regarding a brand. Your ideal social media manager can use social media for informal customer service. It could involve answering questions people ask about the product. It might be some form of reputation management or trying to resolve things when a customer has made a very public complaint.

Confidence Speaking to an Audience

The ability to speak to an audience may appear less clearcut than many of these skills and traits. However, it is becoming more important, thanks to the rise of live-streaming. More and more people watch live-streams on Facebook, Instagram, or one fo the specialist sites, such as Twitch or Mixer.

The need for this depends very much on your audience, of course. But ideally, your social media manager will feel comfortable enough to go live on your preferred social app and talk with your target market.

While most of us can be nervous talking publicly, your audience is unlikely to expect perfection. Your ideal social media manager should be able to do it without drying up and not knowing what to say. 

Ideally, they should also have interviewing skills, so that they can bring other relevant people into their live-stream, and keep a conversation going.

Understanding of Analytics

Source: awario.com

It is all very well somebody making social posts on behalf of your firm, but that person needs to understand whether those posts are successful or not. An understanding of analytics, in particular, social media metrics, is an essential skill for any social media manager to have. 

Any marketing should begin with setting goals. In the case of social media marketing, the goals may relate to increasing awareness, engagement, following, or even using social media posts to drum up additional sales. However, you need to have some way of measuring whether you are meeting your goals. The metrics on which your social media manager will focus should relate directly to your chosen goals.

You have to trust that your social media manager understands how the various social networks operate. He or she should be able to advise you which social channels should be your primary areas of focus.

Easily Adaptable

Adaptability is more of a trait than a skill. Social media is a fast-changing industry. You don't want a social media manager who is stuck in their ways and unwilling to change. There has been a definite move from all-text posts to image posts to video posts in recent times, along with increased popularity in live-streaming. Your social media manager needs to be able to keep up with the trends (for your average audience) and be willing to change his/her approach accordingly.

Main Responsibilities of a Social Media Manager

Creating Your Social Media Strategy

One of the first jobs a social media manager will have to do is to create (or review) the firm's social media strategy. He or she will need to work in with management for this. In particular, your manager will need to determine the goals and future direction of future social campaigns. This needs to tie in with the overall business goals.

Implementing the Social Media Strategy

Once your social media manager knows the direction to take for future social campaigns, he or she can begin the process of running the social accounts as planned. Your manager may well choose to work with a Social Media Marketing Platform to help with planning. He or she can use this to set a schedule of posts in advance, and in some cases, may even assemble the posts on the platform.

If your social media manager oversees a social team, he or she will have to allocate specific tasks to the various team members. Many of the platforms can simplify communications between the team.

Content Creation

While your social media manager may not be responsible for all of your content creation, he or she will take responsibility for it, and oversee the creation process. This includes overseeing the content used in influencer campaigns, although the influencers will most likely create those content pieces themselves.

Social Media Monitoring

The social media manager will need to continually measure results to see how successful the posts are at meeting the organizational goals. He or she will need to adjust the metrics to follow for each campaign, not continually relying on the traditional "old favorites" or vanity metrics such as follower numbers.

Essential Tasks for a Social Media Manager

The specific tasks that your social media manager will need to do will relate to the responsibilities we set out above. For instance, communicating with all relevant stakeholders and putting together a social media strategy will have to be one of his/her first jobs. It is only once the plan is clear that the social media manager can get on with the task of sensibly operating the social accounts.

Your social media manager will have day-to-day responsibility for the operations of your social accounts. He or she will track the results and deal with any issues that may crop up. Depending on the size of the social team, your manager might post new content and engage with your followers. He/she may have to answer customer questions and comments and share other relevant material, including posts from influencers and other important people.

Your social media manager may also be responsible for much of your brand advocacy, and possibly even employee advocacy. He or she will find and reach out to suitable influencers in your niche, ensuring that your account is visible and seen a being of value. 

Your social media manager (or another member of the social team) may also have the responsibility to go into groups and forums to discuss issues relating to your business and its niche.

Your social media content manager is likely to spend quite some time writing copy and designing visuals for posts. This will be particularly so if you also run a blog or a YouTube channel. He or she is also likely to write comments on posts, both your own and others in the niche. The comments on influencers' posts, in particular, will need to be well thought through and add value to the original content.

To be able to measure campaign results, your social media manager will first need to develop benchmarks against which you can compare the results of specific campaigns. He/she will then compare the actual results with these benchmarks to determine the success of the campaign, and then report back to senior management. 

Your manager might even go further than this, and analyze how your firm is performing socially compared to your main opposition.

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.