What is Social Media Management? And What Do Social Media Managers Do?

What is Social Media Management? And What Do Social Media Managers Do?

For many of us, social media is a place where we spend a lot of time. And for those of us who can remember, social media has changed a lot since the turn of the century. While people still use social media to connect with friends and family, it has also become a thriving marketplace.

As a marketplace, social media has moved far beyond selling the couch you no longer need or can’t take with you. Instead, while these activities continue, social media is a place where people talk about products and services every day. So much so, that these days 74% of consumers use social media to help make purchase decisions, and 80% get product advice there. For this reason, brands need to monitor their social media presence. Part of this effort is competent social media management.

What is social media management?

what is a _____?

Briefly, social media management is the practice of managing a brand’s social media presence. This can include any combination of networks. In addition, if a company has many brands or different subsidiaries, they might have multiple profiles on the same network.

Managing a social media profile includes a lot more than posting content. Rather, a social media manager will respond to engagement from other users. They will also create or oversee the creation of content, analyze results, and adjust strategy as necessary. In other words, the answer to what is social media management is “the practice of making sure your brand looks great and engages with people well on social media.”

What are the benefits of social media management?

What are the benefits of social media management?

With that in mind, it might be easy to wonder what the benefits are of managing social media. As the saying goes, social media was made for people, not brands. To that end, many social media networks have made it harder for brands to reach people through their organic feed. In addition, it might seem like branded or paid social isn’t worth it, since it often seems like brands are drowned out by the chatter of “real people.”

However, thinking that the answer to “what is social media management” is “a waste of time” is largely incorrect. While social media management requires effort, it can really pay off when done right. Let’s look at the benefits of this practice.

It is cost-effective

Remember, social media is free and even Paid Social can be more effective than other types of advertising. Meeting people where they are, and where they spend time, has been proven effective time and again. In fact, there are many benefits to social media marketing generally, and social media management is an important part of this marketing modality. 

It can reach huge audiences

Social media has a huge membership in general. Besides Facebook, where over 70% of the North American population have an account, there are many other options. Even companies that want to market in China have effective tools, such as TikTok/Douyin, to reach customers through social media.

But you don’t need to know how many total people use a social media network to understand its value. Social media influencers, for example, can have many thousands of followers. In addition, many brands have a lot of followers who want to hear about their products and services. Lastly, public figures and other major personalities can attract huge followings.

Further Reading: 55 Compelling Social Media Marketing Statistics You Need To Know For 2024

You can easily engage with the public.

Another great reason to do social media management is that you can engage with the public. While all companies reach out to the public through press releases and other, more traditional, forums, social media works better. In particular, social media is sufficiently ubiquitous that it’s easy for people to see what you have to say. Plus, readers can share your social media content for further distribution.

However, the real magic with social media is that you can directly engage with individuals. A lot of brands use social media for customer service functions. In addition, people can and do ask questions of brands in response to their postings. Together, this communication represents real opportunities to reach out to the public.

Social media management generates business.

Finally, we could answer what is social media management is “a great sales opportunity.” Nearly everyone has seen the paid social ads in our feeds, regardless of network. However, paid social isn’t the only opportunity to make a sale. When people build a relationship with your brand, they are more likely to buy from your company when the time comes. For instance, a retail outlet that uses Twitter to respond to customer complaints and questions demonstrates that they are customer-focused. A good experience with customer service through social media can encourage people to buy.

In addition, social media is the best place to do influencer marketing. As I’ve said before, influencer marketing is the practice of having influencers sell or raise awareness for a brand or product. And, it’s one of the more effective ways to gain new customers, especially in a world where people are desensitized to traditional advertising. On the other hand, influencer marketing has a very high ROI, making social media also an important marketing channel.

What tasks does a social media manager do?

What tasks does a social media manager do?

Part of understanding what is social media management is knowing what social media managers do. Briefly, social media managers are people who plan and execute a brand’s social media strategy, either alone or as part of a team. It’s different than managing people, in that social media itself doesn’t have feelings. But the people do, which means that this is one of the more important relationship management jobs in many companies. Here’s what you’ll find in the average job description.

Social media strategy creation, execution, and revision

Generally speaking, a social media manager works with other marketing professionals on a company’s social media strategy. For instance, this person might decide that their brand will do a lot of social media-based customer service. A lot of retailers do this, as do many consumer products companies. On the other hand, another common approach is to simply raise brand awareness or use social media as an extension of the corporate PR department.

Of course, there’s more to strategy than setting goals. A social media manager will help determine how to reach those goals, such as through influencer marketing or targeted content creation. And in some cases, they’ll have to respond to issues in real-time, like many of them did when COVID-19 arrived two years ago.

Further Reading: 12 Social Media Strategy Examples to Empower Your Marketing

Audience research

Another part of what is social media management is finding out which audiences are most likely to respond well to marketing efforts. This often means taking the company’s buyer persona and seeing which parts of the social media community best match it.

At the same time, a social media manager will look at analytics results and engagements from social media campaigns to find opportunities. For instance, they might find that a brand appeals to some customers that are younger than originally planned. Or, they could discover that some people of more modest means than expected considering a product to be a sufficiently good value that they brag about it.

Similarly, once the manager has identified the audience, they need to determine what makes them respond well to marketing messages. Careful analytics work, competitive analysis, and other techniques can tease out this information. 

Decide which social platforms to engage on

While a few large brands engage on all the major social media networks and some of the minor ones, not every company has the resources for this. In addition, a brand’s corporate strategy isn’t always compatible with certain social networks. Finally, not all social networks are appealing to a corporate buyer persona. For example, Pinterest is very female-dominated and, therefore, is less important to brands that primarily appeal to men.

Design social media profiles for each account

No matter which networks a brand chooses to work with, their profiles are important. While some platforms have more customization opportunities than others, each profile should be consistent with brand voice and social media strategy. A social media manager will craft the best possible profile within the parameters. Then, they’ll update the profiles as appropriate to keep current with trends, guidelines, and customer feedback.

Develop social media content strategy and perform social media content creation for each account

Defining what is social media management means that managers develop strategy and make the content that helps execute that strategy. For strategy, the social media manager will decide how to best reach marketing goals through social media. So, they might decide that a contest is the best way to boost brand awareness, while a special offer can bring in new customers.

At the same time, social media managers create content for each social media profile. They might do this directly, assign an employee to do it, or outsource the work. In the second two options, the manager ensures that content meets brand expectations and is of sufficiently high quality. 

Further Reading: The Ultimate 7-Step Guide to Social Media Content Creation

Social media ad creation and management

In some companies, the social media manager will create and manage social media advertisements. Creation is usually a similar process to creating regular content, except that options for content type and formatting can be different. In other companies, there might be a specific performance marketing group in charge of social media advertising. For these companies, the social media manager will have less input.

Monitor engagement and respond where necessary 

As with most things in social media, postings from a brand often elicit responses. They can be positive or negative, and range from simple “likes” all the way to lengthy comments. Unless there is a dedicated community manager who does this, a social media manager will monitor engagement and respond when it is necessary. For instance, if a customer asks a question then the manager should answer it. On the other hand, “likes” usually don’t require a response.

Most social listening for medium to large brands happens automatically using a social media dashboard or listening tool. However, managers still need to pay attention to the data, because it can contain important information. For instance, an airline might find out that passengers are angry about a perceived injustice. 

Further Reading: The 23 Best Social Listening Tools to Monitor and Empower Your Marketing

Influencer management

For companies that do influencer marketing, it’s important that someone manage those projects and people. In many marketing departments, the social media manager is the person who performs this task. In other workplaces, there might be a dedicated influencer marketing lead. Even if the company mostly uses an influencer marketing platform or agency, someone needs to monitor the progress and results of campaigns. 

Further Reading: Influencer Management: How to Effectively Manage Influencers for Effective Influencer Marketing

Analyzing and optimizing all of the above on a regular basis

While social media marketing dashboards help tabulate data and gather analytics, somebody has to analyze the data. After all, making sense of many different data points typically requires a human. In addition, the social media manager understands how the information fits in with the overall corporate strategy: what might be great numbers for one company can be terrible for another.

Reporting on all of the above on a regular basis

Finally, in most cases, the social media manager will be responsible for reporting to management. This means presenting managers with the good news, and the not-so-good news. Then, this information becomes the basis of performance evaluations and strategy tweaks.

What skills does a social media manager need?

What skills does a social media manager need?

Of course, not everybody has the right skills to be an effective social media manager. Part of what is social media management is reacting quickly to changing social media environments. In addition, it’s easy to argue that these professionals have a lot of agility due to their demanding job descriptions and the skills they need. Here’s a list of basic skills for this position:

  • Communication skills: Specifically, the ability to interact and communicate effectively with both the marketing team and the general public.
  • Analytical skills: Knowing how to take the numbers that come in, such as engagement rate, and turn them into something useful. Also, being able to process customer data to help shape strategy. 
  • Writing skills: Content creation requires writing skills. This is especially valuable the more words a social media post contains. However, all social media posts need to be well-written, including captions. 
  • Visual editing: Whether they use Canva or something else, social media managers need to turn raw materials like pictures and logos into something special. 
  • Reporting and presentation skills: Like all employees, a social media manager is accountable to management. These skills will help ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that the SMM can demonstrate that the company is getting adequate ROI. 
  • Research skills: Nailing that audience information requires great research skills. That includes knowing what questions to ask, and how to get the answers. 
  • Social media experience (as a user): It’s hard to be a good social media manager without a good background in social media. In this case, it’s being a competent user, not necessarily experience running someone else’s accounts. 
  • Adaptable to different environments: The social media environment is always changing, and a good SMM needs to be able to respond to those changes. In addition, when a crisis rolls around, whether in the company or outside of it, the SMM needs to quickly pivot and craft an appropriate response.

Finally, I’d like to look at the tools that many social media managers use. For SMMs who work with medium to large businesses, part of what is social media management is using the software that makes their job easier. Note, however, that I did a large article that has more tools if you want to check it out.


AgoraPulse is a part of my tool stack because it’s a great all-in-one tool. Features include a social inbox, which gives you all the comments and DMs from around your social media accounts and lets you respond in-app. They have a scheduler, analytics functionality, social listening, and much more.


Sendible has the same basic tools as Agorapulse, but it’s geared more towards agencies. To that end, it’s easy to use even if you have several clients and all of their social media accounts. However, it’s still useful for single-brand users. Standout features include the mobile app and enhanced collaboration tools.


This software tool is also great for people that need to schedule a lot of posts at once and connect multiple accounts. So, if a social media manager works with several brands at once, SocialPilot is great. Special features include in-house Facebook post boosting and content curation.


Like the others, Crowdfire has the basic content scheduling, analytics, and engagement tools you need. Crowdfire’s special angle is the customized best times to post. So, rather than having to second guess yourself or stick with the automatic posting times, you can respond to changing circumstances.


With PromoRepublic, you get all the basic features needed to keep your social media management efficient. However, if you’re a small business or have franchisees, this one’s especially valuable. That’s because it’s easy to use for small businesses, and has non-editable design features for franchisees. In addition, the dashboard facilitates social sharing, which is especially common with local businesses and franchise promotion.


Finally, there’s SocialBee. Besides the basics, this app stands out in how they let you post and manage your accounts. In particular, they have an automatic recycling feature for evergreen content, a bulk content editor that lets you work more quickly, and category-based scheduling. This offers users maximum flexibility for relatively little effort. It’s also the only one that advertises the ability to work on Google Mybusiness, making SocialBee great for SMBs.

As you can see, the key answer to what is social media management is the practice of being active on social media for a business. Using the expertise of a social media manager, any business can maximize its reach and get great ROI by being visible on social media. This is true for businesses of almost any size, from local shops to multinational corporations.

Hero photo by Meghan Lamle on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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