How to Land a Job as a Social Media Manager

Jan 03, 2016

Are you a lover of all things social? Do you want to get paid to curate engaging content, dream up innovative social media campaigns, and actively steer the online conversation about a brand?

Then a job as a social media manager may be the perfect position for you. According to the CMO Survey, spending on social media is expected to climb to an almost quarter share of marketing budgets in the next five years, up from a 5.6% share in 2009. There’s no longer a debate about the necessity of social media marketing—companies know they need to do it—and as the opportunities on social media grow, so will the need for highly-skilled marketers to fill social media manager roles.

There are currently more than 10,000 social media manager positions posted on LinkedIn in the United States alone, and the average salary  on Payscale is $46,402, with a range from $30,653 to $72,720, depending on the industry and geographic location. There’s a lot of competition for these roles, but there a few things you can do to position yourself as the best person for the job. 

Gain as Much Experience As Possible

It’s no longer enough to say that you know how to use Facebook and Twitter. Employers are looking for marketers who have moved beyond familiarity and on to mastery, and they will look for candidates who have already demonstrated their capabilities. If you haven’t worked much with social media at your current job, or if you’re just starting out in your career, you’ll need to look for other ways to gain that critical first-hand experience. Ask a friend if you can help grow their business by managing their accounts and check Craigslist, Freelancer, or VolunteerMatch for opportunities to put your skills to work. 

Document the goals and results of your campaigns as well as your top-performing posts and practice walking through your strategy and planning process before an interview. In addition to growing your portfolio, work on cultivating the skills that successful social media managers possess. On his blog, digital marketing influencer Michael Goldrich looks at what makes social media marketers effective and the traits and skills hiring managers should be looking for.

Pursue a Certification  

Whether you’re lacking in experience or want to add a credential to your resume, pursuing a certificate is a great way acquire more knowledge. A number of universities have introduced continuing education programs in order to meet the growing demand for education in social media marketing. Look for one that includes project work on a real campaign. Academy of Art University, the University of Delaware, and UCLA Extension all have social media programs leading to a certificate or award of completion that are worth checking out.

You can also look into taking shorter online courses, like the ones offered by MediaBistro, HootSuite, and the Online Marketing Institute. Because so many businesses still struggle with how to measure the impact social media has on their bottom line, it’s more important than ever for social media managers to know how to analyze the results of social media performance and report on its ROI. Enrolling in a class or program is a great way to formally acquire those skills.

Establish a Presence

If you’re looking to break into the field of social media, you should be using social media to network during your job search. Set up accounts across multiple platforms and use them to share insights and content that is relevant to the industry. Follow companies and individuals you’d like to work with. Keep them professional, but allow your personality to shine through.

If you’re not doing so already, set up a blog and begin to post consistently about subjects that interest you. Don’t become paralyzed by the pursuit of perfection, the most important thing is to get you writing out there. Block off a set amount of time to brainstorm and write daily and aim to publish 1-2 times per week. Then use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn to build relationships with influencers and direct readers back to your blog or online portfolio. 

Stay Ahead of Best Practices and Trends

Because the social media landscape is ever-changing, keeping an eye on emerging trends is part of a social media manager’s job description. Demonstrate employers that you’re already doing this by showing up to an interview ready to discuss best practices and current trends in addition to sharing industry news with your social media followers. This will help establish your credibility and demonstrate to employers that you can be looked to as an expert from day one. These articles from SproutSocial, Forbes, and VentureBeat can help you get started.

It’s also a good idea to subscribe to a few industry blogs and newsletters, as well as join social media and digital marketing groups on LinkedIn.

Know the Space You’ll Be Working In

Research is an essential part of preparing for any job interview, but it’s even more crucial that you have a thorough grasp of a company’s brand and presence when interviewing for a social media job. Look through the company’s accounts and take note of what they do and don’t do well. It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask for your opinion on the current state of their activity on social media. Come prepared with ideas for campaigns and posts, and be ready to discuss any changes you would make the areas where you see the most potential for growth.

Make sure you also have a strong understanding of the company’s target audience. The most important platform for B2B companies is LinkedIn, followed by Google+ and Twitter. B2C brands will want to focus on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. And while it will be your job as a social media manager to know about new networks, it will also be your responsibility to determine if the company should jump on board. Just because a new platform is introduced, doesn’t mean you need to use it. Sure, Snapchat and Vine are rising in popularity, but they may not make sense for a particular business to be on, especially if their audience isn’t there. It’s better to have a strong presence across a few platforms than a weak presence across many.


When it comes to social media, experience plus education equals expertise. Read up on the industry, continue to learn new skills, and experiment with different strategies on your personal accounts. Build an engaging and  thoughtful social media brand for yourself and you’ll have no trouble convincing others they should hire you to manage theirs.

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