Updated: Apr 18, 2020
I'm going to tell you all how to become a social media manager in 2020! In this post, I'm going to walk you through the step-by-step guide I used when I started my freelancing business. You'll learn about what a social media manager does, what skills you need to have, how to start your freelance business, and how to get clients!
So, let's get right into what a social media manager does. There are a ton of things you can be responsible for while running people's social media platforms and each job is different depending on how big your business gets. Here's a list of possible duties while in your social media manager position.
Learn What Social Media Managers Do
Creating content and captions for social media
Posting on social media
Creating social media calendars
Editing videos and photos
Replying to comments
Liking and following similar brands
Reaching out to potential brands for collaboration
Planning giveaways to followers
Finding ambassadors to represent the brand
Shipping out products to influencers
Analyzing the engagement of your followers
Growing the follower count
Creating ideas for campaigns
Now, this is just a general list of things I've been exposed to but I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting. If you work in the industry feel free to put more down in the comments below! By no means are these every day tasks but this is basically the gist of it!
Let's talk for a second about how I got my first job as a social media manager and turned it into a freelancing business. Like I mentioned in my last post I had no experience in social media management when I got first sm job. The reason I got my job was that I already had a blog that I designed myself with a good following for my blog on Instagram. I had been using marketing analytics to track it's performance and taught myself what to look for in doing so. I also have a substantial graphic design background from my time in college so I would say I have a good eye for design! Now I still have this employer as a client for my business. Don't ever burn bridges, my friends.
Gather Your Social Media Management Skills
Really quick let's talk about two things that are important when building your skills as a social media manager. The first thing you to know if the difference between the front end and the back end social media management because you going to need both if you're going to make it. I'm going to walk you through 8 skills every social media manager should have.
What is front end social media management? This means you are the face of the business behind the screen of course. Essentially, you are the one creating the content, planning the layout of the Instagram, liking posts of followers, returning comments, reaching out to brands, etc.
5 Front End Management Skills
An eye for design: This would be the most important thing for me to have seeing as that I'm creating all the posts for their Instagram and making sure they look good in the feed after they've been posted. Also part of this is having a good sense of graphic design. Content creation is a huge part of social media management when you're working for a business. Not so much influencers.
Being reliable: This so important because if you're flaky and don't get your work done and posted on time it makes the brand as a whole look bad. This is really irritating to your employer. Social media managers tend to have a high turnover rate so making yourself reliable is super important.
Be personable: Now this might not be necessary for all companies but I know for mine it is super important to be outgoing and extroverted because you're likely going to be talking to people on the phone and replying to emails all day long. I know I am. These types of businesses take lots of collaboration between departments, influencers, and potential clients.
Self-motivated: By self-motivated I mean you don't need constant direction to keep on task and can kind of flourish working by yourself. This is important for me because I work from home and you likely will too before you get an office and become and social media boss. I don't want to be getting sidetracked surfing social media and procrastinate the work I have to do every day.
Highly Organized: You HAVE to be organized in this industry because it's likely you'll be working with different clients whether in a firm or freelance. Say you accidentally upload the wrong content for the wrong client, or send a mock-up design to the wrong client that could cost you repeat business or your job. It looks super unprofessional.
What is back end social media management? In the back end, you'll focus more on the data. In doing this you'll analyze how the brand is performing, the platform growth, how well followers are engaging with the brand.
3 Back End Management Skills
Instagram Business: Learn how to analyze Instagram business accounts. You can't see the analytics of a regular Instagram account so make sure your clients have a business account. You'll be able to see growth in followers, engagement and more to learn when to post to get the highest engagement, your brand demographics, etc. This is huge for reviewing people's Instagrams which is a service I offer. You need to be able to put in a report to show how the brand is growing and why.
Google Analytics: Same basic principals as above, just on a different platform. This will be more useful for people's blogs and websites if you're managing them. You'll be able to see how much of their traffic comes directly from social media and how much is organically searched.
SEO: Search engine optimization is a key part of back end social media. This is how easily your clients find your business by using keywords in your website. Learning how to create the best SEO is essential because its how easily your clients can find you. Without using the right keywords your posts, blog, or website could end up only generating on the 21st page of google. There's so much information on the internet and you don't want your business to get lost along the way.
Chose What Kind Of Business Should You Work For
Do you want to work in a firm or do you want to freelance? There some BIG differences.
It's a little harder to get a job at a company doing social media management work. The best way to get this type of job if you're fresh out of college or still in college is to first get an internship. That way you'll get experience and hopefully get hired on after you're done. Usually, universities build contacts with local and large businesses to bring in fresh college students so I would look into that with an advisor.
If you're later in your work career I would try and get ANY position in social media you can to get experience. Before you start looking for a job I would do as much research as possible. Teach yourself as much as you can about social media marketing and management as possible. Youtube is a great resource to learn about everything social media. I would then, start by searching websites like Indeed and type in tags like social media, freelance, graphic design, fully remote, etc.
If you choose to work for a marketing firm my advice ends here but good luck!
If you want to start freelancing that this definitely an easier way to get started but it's more difficult to get clients. I would only recommend this for people who have an established portfolio because who's going to hire you if they can't see your work right? Don't be discouraged though!
Setting Up Your Freelancing Business
I would recommend creating both a website on a platform like Wix, Squarespace, or Wordpress and an Instagram for your work. Make it as professional as possible! There are some great templates and video walkthroughs that can help you build one yourself. If you're really not tech-savvy I would recommend hiring someone to build one for you. A website it a priority one.
Then I would go on Instagram and search for some social media managers and marketing firms. Start following people they are following! Make sure not to do more than 30 or 40 a day so you don't get blocked. This can really mess up your business because you won't be able to post, like or comment for a while! Building a good Instagram following is key because who's going to trust a social media business that doesn't know how to market themselves. Use everything you've learned to grow your own platform.
As your start freelancing and building followers I would recommend mixing your Instagram posts with aesthetically pleasing pictures, social media tips, and your work. This way people come to follow you not only if their potential customers but also to get the information you're providing. It also makes you look like you the business and can follow through. I also would recommend you make business cards to hand out to potential clients you meet in person. This will make you seem professional.
How To Get Clients
If you're just starting out and don't have a large portfolio I would recommend offering your services for a discounted price or even free with the promise of a review or testimonial. This is a great way to test the waters and get repeat customers if they like your work.
One of the best ways to get new clients to become a part of Facebook groups. My searching entrepreneurs of "your city" you'll be able to find a ton of people looking for help with their businesses social media. You can post weekly about your services and contact information. You'd be surprised at how many small businesses know nothing about marketing on social media.
Another great way is to reach out to businesses on Instagram. If you have a client you like to unfollow them and refollow them and it'll show a list of similar businesses. Many of them will have an email button where you can send you to pitch directly to their business email. I would recommend starting out by stating why you like their business and why you would want to work with them. This adds a personalized touch and gets rid of that resume blast feel. Next state exactly what you do and, this is important, how they would benefit from hiring you.
Another way is to go on job searching sites and finding social media manager positions. That's how I found my very first position. Be careful with this though because your marketing yourself as a freelance business not as an employee of their company. Make sure they're looking for a fully remote position and you might be able to get another client.
Final Words Of Advice
If you're wanting to start your own business freelancing you need to breathe social media. Make sure you know as much as possible to be able to answer any question a client throws your way. Lastly, be honest. If you don't know how to do something don't take on the challenge but instead, offer to learn more about and revisit it later on.
I hope this helped and inspired you to start your social media manager journey! Good luck!