How to Become a Social Media Manager in 2021

How do you become a social media manager? With the rise of TikTok, that question is popular again, and it is hard to answer because this profession changes every year, but I will answer this question: How to become a Social Media Manager? for you.

A little background

Every year, thousands of brands fight for the attention of people on the internet, with good quality content, memes and viral videos. All to get one second of attention.

Behind those brands are the social media managers and the community managers. Yes, being a social media manager is different than being a community manager.

And now, a brand isn’t only a company, but it can be a person too. For example, famous YouTubers or famous TikTokers are now brands; they sell T-shirts with their brand name on it, and they might hire social media managers or community managers for their social media accounts.

The social media world evolves fast, too fast; every year the landscape changes abruptly. If ten years ago a trend lasted a week, now it lasts just a day or two days, tops.

For example, if a song is popular on TikTok now, you have between two and four hours to make a video with that song to jump on that trend, and have the chance to go viral. 24 hours later would be too late.

That is the landscape now. Everything goes too fast.

If a brand wants to be successful on social media right now, it has to be a brand that evolves fast and must have a strong voice and a clear message.

I remember that when I used to be the social media manager for some big brands, the social media content calendar that I was writing wouldn’t be updated for a week, but now that would be almost impossible.

Now we are living in the era of social media trends.

Learning how to become a social media manager now requires a little more effort than it did years before, but it is not impossible.

And If you want to learn how to become a social media manager this is the moment. In the United States: The average employee age for social media managers is 39 years and the social media manager workforce reached a whopping 26,725 in 2020.

For that reason to invest time to learn how to become a social media manager is a good idea right now.

Trust me, there is good online courses that can teach you how to become a social media manager in short time.

When I wanted to learn how to become a social media manager there was not online courses. I just watches tons of YouTube videos to learn how to become a social media manager.

What is the difference between a community manager and a social media manager?

A community manager and a social media manager are two different jobs. Let me show you the differences.

My knowledge comes from my experience working in a digital marketing agency and because I did both jobs.

If you want to learn how to become a social media manager it is important that you know the difference between these two jobs.

What does a community manager do?

A community manager is the front line of the brand with its followers. He is responsible for uploading the content to the social media accounts and answering questions from the audience. Also, a community manager has to have their eyes wide open in case of a possible crisis.


And the community manager has the duty of drafting the first version of the content plan for the brand, because they are the one who talks to the audience, so they know what the audience wants from the brand and what they are asking.

The tasks of a community manager are:

  • Plan and implement social media and communication campaigns
  • Provide engaging text, image and video content for all social media and professional accounts
  • Respond to customers in a timely manner
  • Monitor, track and report on feedback and online reviews
  • Organize and manage events to boost brand awareness
  • Coordinate with marketing, PR and communications teams
  • Liaise with development and sales departments
  • Build relationships with customers
  • Stay up-to-date with digital technology trends

In some cases, the community manager also has to know how to design graphics and how to edit videos. I do not support this but it is the reality now.

The life of a community manager is a very busy one, because the community manager is on the frontline.

Their primary job is to engage with the community of the brand. For that reason the community manager has to investigate the audience to create a content plan for the brand.

The community manager has to propose events, live streams, videos, podcasts or other events that help engage the brand with its audience.

One thing to have in mind is that the community manager helps to develop the brand strategy, but this isn’t their main job.

The community manager follows a strategy, and at the end of every month, has to do a report that helps to improve the strategy.

I have been there on the frontline and it is a very difficult job, because, in an ideal situation, the community manager will just take care of one brand, but the reality is that in a digital agency, the community manager has to take care of three or four brands at the same time.

And that means every one or two weeks, the community manager has to write three or four content plans and later write three or four reports, besides the regular job of engaging with the audience.

To learn how to become a social media manager you need to know what a community manager does.

 What does a social media manager do?

The role of the social media manager is, essentially, to create the strategy for the brand.

The main difference between a community manager and a social media manager is the development of the brand strategy.

The social media manager is responsible for the strategy and achieving the objectives of the strategy.

I can tell you from my experience in digital agencies that if the agency has a creative director, the social media manager can share the responsibility. But if not, the social media manager is alone with the responsibility.

Here are some of the duties of a social media manager:

  • Develop, implement and manage the social media strategy
  • Define the most important social media KPIs
  • Manage and oversee social media content
  • Measure the success of every social media campaign
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest best practices and technologies
  • Use social media marketing tools
  • Work with copywriters and designers to ensure content is informative and appealing
  • Collaborate with marketing, sales and product development teams
  • Monitor user engagement and suggest content optimization
  • Hire and train others in the team
  • Provide constructive feedback
  • Adhere to rules and regulations
  • Present to senior management (if the social media manager is working in a company)

In some cases, but I see it more often every day, the social media manager has to know how to run campaigns on Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram ads.

As you can see, the role of a social media manager is a senior role. In most cases, the social media manager is in charge of the community manager.

From my experience, I can say that the social media manager does not have to be on the frontline as the community manager.

The social media manager has to be focused on the numbers, whether the strategy is doing well, following new trends and anticipating events.

Like I told you before, learning how to become a social media manager these days will require learning more new skills than before.

And if you really want to learn how to become a social media manager you need to learn now skill really fast, because everyday something new appears.

Why do people confuse these two jobs?

If you are not familiar with the terms or with the digital world, these two jobs will sound similar.

I have seen companies requiring community managers to carry out the duties of a social media manager.

Ok, if you are a freelancer, you can do both jobs and charge for one. I have done this, but you will have a very heavy load of work.

If you work for a company that wants to start a digital marketing department, it is ideal that the community manager only cares about creating content plans to engage with the audience of your brand, and does not care about SEO, paid advertising or other duties.

I have seen community managers going from SEO to paid advertising and not doing those tasks well.

In an ideal world or in an ideal company, the digital marketing department would have a community manager, a designer, a social media manager or coordinator, an SEO professional, a data analyst, a digital paid analyst and the head of the department.

But right now, all that work is being done by two or three people.

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So, I have to answer one question in this post about how to become a social media manager:

How do you become a social media manager?

I will answer this question in parts:

First, become a community manager

The first step is to become a community manager. As a community manager, you will learn how to create a content plan, be interactive with the audience, be the voice of a brand and what to do when a crisis appears.

You could say: but if I don’t have any prior experience, how can I get a job as a community manager?

Well you can link here: How to find online Social Media Jobs

Or you can become your own brand.

If you are learning how to become a social media manager you can show what you have done with your own brand.

What I mean by this is that your name is your main brand. You can work on your own social media accounts and show that you are an expert on social media.

So, when your future boss asks you for your experience, you can show your own achievements.

One recommendation that I can give you is to work on your digital presence.

How do you become a social media manager? First, you have to become a community manager. This is the first step to learn how to become a social media manager.

the technology savvy social media manager

You have to love strategies

After a year or a year and a half working as a community manager, you will have the desire to create strategies for the brands that you manage.

This is the moment when you know you can become a social media manager.

The main responsibility of a social media manager is to create strategies. For this reason, you must love strategies.

Great social media managers play games such as “Magic The Gathering”, or roleplay games like “Dungeons and Dragons”, because they are games where having a good strategy is mandatory.

You need to love strategies: that is the difference between a good social media manager and a bad one.

To learn how to become a social media manager, you have to have great strategies for brands.

You have to chase trends

Social media right now almost happens in real time. So, chasing new trends is vital for the brand.

The community manager will be busy answering every comment on the brand’s accounts, so your job as a social media manager is to chase trends.

For example, TikTok trends change every day, so you have to monitor the trends to create content with the community manager as fast as you can.

To learn how to become a social media manager, you have to be alert to the new trends in the digital world.

the technology savvy social media manager strategy

You have to find new insights

Finding insights is something that you will master with time.

There are several ways to find new insights, including:

  • Reviewing the data of Google Analytics
  • Watching people on the street
  • Reading studies about human behavior
  • Reading a book

As a strategist, it is very important for you to learn how to find new insights for your brand. This is a skill that you have to develop while you learn how to become a social media manager.

You have to learn to be a leader

As a social media manager, you will lead a team of community managers. For that reason, you need to learn how to be a leader, but not a boss.

As a leader, you have to collaborate with your team to achieve the goals of the brand.

And sometimes that means you will have to work side by side with the community managersRemember that every human being can contribute unique ideas so you have to learn how to communicate with every member of the team.

While you learn how to become a social media manager, you will develop new skills to face new challenges in the digital world.

You have to be good with numbers

Community managers will write reports on their brands during the first days of every month.

But the responsibility of the reports being immaculate is yours. For that reason, you have to be good with numbers.

As you can see, learning how to become a social media manager requires multiple skills.

I have seen many good social media managers evolve by planning inside digital agencies, and that means creating more complex strategies for brands.

Other ex-social media managers are now the heads of digital marketing departments inside big companies.

While I was learning how to become a social media manager, I was also re-learning math. Trust me, it is a skill that you will need.

Can one person do both jobs?

As I said before, yes: one person can be both a community manager and a social media manager at the same time. It’s not ideal, but it is possible.

For example, on Fiverr, you can offer your services as a community manager or a social media manager.

You can offer a service to manage the social media account for just one brand, and another service just to create the strategy.

I have done both jobs for five brands at the same time, and trust me, it is not pretty.

Conclusions on how to become a social media manager

For me, getting experience is vital when learning how to become a social media manager. You start as a community manager, and you will learn the necessary skills to become a social media manager, while also learning from your mistakes.

It is not an easy career choice. It is a very difficult and demanding job. For that reason, if you want to learn how to become a social media manager, take into consideration that sometimes you will not have weekends, because the audience can write to your brand at any hour.

A piece of advice that I can give you, if you want to learn how to become a social media manager, is to read about how to create strategies and live and breathe strategies.

If you already like to read about strategies, you are on your path to learning how to become a social media manager.

And finally, I can say that this is a great career choice. It is a fun job and the best part is that the digital world is always changing, so you will never get bored.

Today, people’s favorite app is TikTok. Tomorrow, who knows? Everything changes so fast that you have to evolve fast and think fast.

In order to learn how to become a social media manager you will have to learn new skills really fast.

Because if you really want to learn how to become a social media manager you will need to read a lot.

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