The Misunderstood Role of a Social Media Manager

Not long ago, I was having a conversation with someone about jobs. She has a good job, works a hard 40-hour week and makes good money. We were discussing work culture in today’s society and it led to our individual jobs. To make a long story short, she said “I wish I had a job like yours. I want something easy that doesn’t require me to have to have my brain on 24/7 and isn’t so demanding.”

I’ll let you digest that in a minute, while reminding you she said it about MY job…my job as a Social Media and Content Manager in Marketing.

Is your jaw hanging? No matter what job you are talking about, who says that about someone else’s work?

But beyond that, it speaks volumes about how misunderstood the social media field is.

And to make it worse, it’s not the first time someone’s made a comment about how I get paid to be on Facebook all day, how anyone could do it or why do they pay social media managers so much when the receptionist could “just do it between answering phonecalls.”

I know.

Then there’s “Can you teach <my wife, me> how to do that so I/she can stay home all day?”


In a nutshell, social media management is marketing and public relations rolled into a package of online content written and shared to build and protect a company’s brand and reputation. We aren’t marketers or public relations per se, but we do facets of both and work closely with those departments to ensure our strategies align. (Some of us have gone to school for marketing or public relations, but both those roles are not necessarily social media focused so I want to be clear that I’m not saying they are the same.)

Social Media managers, specialists, coordinators, whatever the title, are responsible for getting a company’s name out there in a positive light and helping to turn the tide against negativity. We answer questions – 24/7 – from happy and unhappy people and grow communities to engage and interact with our current and potential customers. What we say is seen by thousands upon thousands and every little piece of punctuation is planned and carefully chosen and re-read several times before it sees any public light of day in order to ensure accuracy and eliminate the possibility it confuses, can be misconstrued or taken the wrong way. Once it’s out there, it can’t be taken back, so content isn’t just something spit out spontaneously.

Social media is not new but it’s a newer field in the big picture. It’s not traditional marketing but an adjunct, wonderful addition and it should be taken seriously. Businesses do, and they can speak to the necessity of having a successful online presence.

Anyone in the social media field spends hours a day/week staying on top of media; we listen to what others are saying in the field in addition to what others are saying in the fields of those we represent. The internet, policies, social media, netiquette, tools – it’s all changing at the speed of a keyboard and we have to stay on top of it. Not only does it require a lot of education and experience to get into a social media job, but it requires ongoing learning.

Speaking of education and experience – maintaining your own Facebook page and Twitter account or even being good at YouTube videos is not enough to be a social media. You can get into the field by starting on your own, but jumping into a management position making a lot of money isn’t going to happen unless you invest in yourself, your education, and work your way up. Trust me, even if that sounds arduous and painstaking, there is no fast, easy shortcut and you will be happy later on if you learn from the ground up. There are nuances and a history you will need to rely on during difficult and stressful days and that doesn’t come from solely hosting a Twitter party for your friend’s babysitting service and starting their Facebook page. (Please don’t misunderstand me – I’m in no way denigrating doing that, because I know a lot of good social media people who do those things as a part of their business, but if that’s your sole experience, hold off on applying for the big jobs.) In short, keep your expectations realistic and understand that competition is heavy. Anyone in any field who wants to be good at their job and stay that way understands they will never know it all and they learn something new every day.

A typical day for me has me all over the internet – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, the blog, YouTube, FourSquare, Yelp. I write articles and I share them appropriately; the content I write/share needs to fit the schedule and timing and I also have to ensure I’m promoting company sales/products at the right time to help conversions. Ultimately, I should help the company make money, and that’s a big responsibility. Numbers are looked at and reviewed and you have to answer to that. I spend a lot of time creating and updating reports, figuring stats and then reviewing the results to put them into an actionable format. My editorial calendar is huge and I spend a lot of time reading and responding to people on all our channels. (I am not officially customer service, but there is crossover and I do have to properly respond and show them genuine interest.) Curating the channels, creating attractive images (usually in Adobe) and getting creative with A:B testing to see what works and what doesn’t. Call to action development. This list is by no means exhaustive and I’m missing a lot. If things blow up on a weeknight or weekend, I’m there trying to fix it.

There goes that image of it being easy and not demanding, right?

My job is done here.

I love social media and I don’t ever see that changing — I’ve done it so long and still enjoy every new day, normal problems aside. Just like any other field, it’s not for everyone. Even you don’t like social media, or don’t understand social media, realize it’s an actual, viable, high-dollar career that’s not going away. It’s not a catch-all career but a focused field with heavy responsibility.

Ever run into a situation like this? Let me know how you’ve replied!

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  1. Thanks for the article! I’m very new at this and I’m just starting to learn exactly what managing social media entails. I’ve had a lot of that same reaction when I tell people I’m a writer (screenplays). Everyone kind of thinks it’s super easy and you just have to sit down, sit a cocktail and write for a couple of hours a day until you have a wonderful script that is ready to shoot in a week… Even my husband felt that way until he tried to write a script of his own!

    1. Oh wow, people really don’t get how they sound when they say things like that, do they? I wish I could do something as creative as a screen-play, how cool!

  2. This was a great read! I will admit that I never knew the depth of reach of a social media manager… I have a hard enough time remembering to promote my own blog that I couldn’t imagine being in charge of another person or company’s account! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Karianna! I love what I do but it is definitely a lot more complex than is initially realized. (And it’s funny, I tell people how it’s so frequently like the cobbler’s kids having no shoes, he’s so busy doing it for other people. I have to remind myself to promote my own blog more!)

      Have a great day!

  3. I think its always a case of “the grass always looks greener….” Having a full-time job or even a part-time job is time consuming. I think it just boils down to loving what you’re doing.
    If you love your job/career, you’ll never work a day in your life.

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