The field of social media management is concerned with the monitoring, filtering, contributing to, measuring, and overall guidance of the social media presence of a product, brand, service, corporation, or individual. It is quite similar to the field of public relations (PR) and website community management. In fact, a social media manager often works from within a company’s PR department. The focus is on communication with stakeholders, particularly the public, answering questions and stimulating interest in services and products, with the goal of improving a brand’s reputation.
The role, as such, is interactive. On the one hand, social media managers generate new content, such as articles and images, and share these through different platforms. On the other hand, these managers communicate directly with customers who respond to this content, or who post their own content. It is a strategic role, in which managers set goals and measurement parameters, analyzing whether these have been met.
Because social media is now so commonly used as a communications platform, there are many employment opportunities as well. The demand for professionals who are experts in this particular field is certainly high because practically all businesses would want to use social media to boost their reputation and market reach. Since it is expected that most companies would be doing this, no one would like to be left behind or else they would be clobbered by their competitors.
That said, the field is also highly competitive. Those who are able to understand trends and patterns, and who can provide insights on what certain brands are doing, are the ones with the greatest amount of opportunities.
According to Payscale.com, social media managers do not currently earn a lot of money. In fact, their average annual salary is just $41,000 per year. However, they do have a lot of job satisfaction. For instance, a social media manager can expect to earn a bonus of around $5,320 per year, as well as $1,400 in profit sharing, and $2,600 in commission.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), social media managers can be found in a variety of different occupational groups. These include online community managers, social media strategists, and digital engagement specialists.
Geographical location is always a key factor when it comes to having a feel of how much someone can earn in the field of social media management. That being said, it is important to understand that those areas with relatively high salaries also often have a higher cost of living. This means that you need to consider more than just the location.
According to the BLS, some 218,910 public relations specialists were employed as of May 2015. Their average annual salary was $56,770, which is above the national average.
What is perhaps of greater importance than geographical location when estimating the potential salary, is the company that someone works for.
Indeed.com has released a report on the common employers for social media managers and their associated salaries. This report showed that those working for:
- Zed Zed Ltd., earned an average salary of $600 per day.
- Real Peoples Ratings LLC, earned an average salary of $124,850 per year.
- Avispa Technology, earned an average salary of $52.04 per hour.
- Michael Page, earned an average salary of $107,239 per year.
- Beyondsoft, earned an average salary of $89,206 per year.
- Headhunter Services LLC, earned an average salary of $87,381 per year.
- Robert Half Finance & Accounting, earned an average salary of $82,711 per year.
- Hirewell, earned an average salary of $78,616 per year.
- AT&T Mobility, earned an average salary of $48,704 per year.
- CyberCoders, earned an average salary of $66,879 per year.
In order to gain a lucrative career in the field of social media management, you will likely need to have a good education, and this usually starts with a bachelor’s degree. For the convenience of students, and to remain relevant with the developing digital world, many schools now offer some of their degree programs online, although on campus studies continued to be popular and are still very much available. One example of a bachelor’s degree in social media marketing is the one offered by Lewis University. Their curriculum includes:
- Basic Macroeconomics
- Basic Microeconomics
- Principles of Accounting
- Business Statistics
- Decision Science
- Principles of Marketing
- Principles of Management
- Business Communication in the Digital Age
- Principles of Finance
- Introduction to Information Systems
- Business Law
- Finite Mathematics
- Business Calculus
- Web Design Applications
- Principles of Project Management
- Search Engine Optimization
- Multi Media Internet
- Social Media and the Business of Public Relations
- Web Analytics
- Social Media Marketing Strategies
- Introduction to Social Media Marketing
To really advance your career, you should consider getting a master’s degree. This will give you the opportunity to gain advanced skills and knowledge in your field, and set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. Fortunately, many master’s programs are now also offered online, which makes it easier than ever to complete a degree without having to completely stop working.
An example of a graduate degree in this field is the Social Media Management degree offered by Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies, Center for Continuing & Professional Studies. This program is offered both online and on campus. Some of the courses included are:
Measuring & Calculating Return on Investment for Social Media
Capstone Course in Social Media
Social Media Strategies & Tactics
Policies and Procedures to Manage Risk
Using Social Media Tools Effectively
Strategic Communication Planning
Writing for Social Media
Each school is entitled to set its own admission requirements, although they are usually quite similar across the board due to the fact that these requirements are designed demonstrate whether or not the applicant has the academic capacity to complete a program at graduate degree level. The admissions requirements for the master’s degree offered by Georgetown University, for instance, are:
- A bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.
- A minimum of 1 to 3 years of professional work experience in a communications, marketing, public relations, or media role.
Schools are allowed to specify the components of their curriculum as they see fit. This is why it is very important to study with an accredited university, as this guarantees prospective employers that your degree included courses that meet the minimum requirements for the profession.
The curriculum for the master’s degree program offered by Georgetown University includes:
- Measuring & Calculating Return on Investment for Social Media
- Policies and Procedures to Manage Risk
- Capstone Course in Social Media
- Using Social Media Tools Effectively
- Writing for Social Media
- Social Media Strategies & Tactics
- Strategic Communication Planning
Completing a higher education, especially a master’s degree, is very expensive. You will need to invest both time and money. Fortunately, most colleges and universities will be able to signpost you to available financial aid, and they may also have scholarships and grants available that you can apply for. At the same time, there are a number of external scholarships that you may want to consider. These include the:
- Appreneur Scholar Award, to the value of $5,000.
- Austin Alliance for Women in Media Scholarship, to the value of $5,000.
- Carole Fielding Student Grants, to the value of $5,000.
- Chantell Cooley Scholarship for Women, to the value of $20,000.
- Dan Klepper Memorial Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarship for Outreach and Health Communications, to the value of $5,000.
- EDSF Board of Directors Scholarships, to the value of $5,000.
- ESA Foundation Scholarship Program, to the value of $3,000.
- Franchise Services, Inc. PIP Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- Guy P. Gannett Scholarship Fund, with varying amounts.
- Hoods Memorial Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- Interpublic Group Scholarship and Internship, to the value of $5,000.
- Judy Corman Memorial Scholarship and Internship from Scholastic, to the value of $10,000.
- Media Fellows Program, to the value of $5,000.
- MIT Inspire Competition, with varying amounts.
- New York Women in Communications Inc. Foundation Scholarship Program, to the value of $10,000.
- OutputLinks Communications Group John A. Lopiano Endowed Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- OutputLinks Communications Group Woman of Distinction, to the value of $5,000.
- Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, to the value of $20,000.
- RTDNF Ed Bradley Scholarship, to the value of $10,000.
- Sandy Schenker Capell Scholarship, with varying amounts.
- Stoody-West Graduate Fellowship, to the value of $6,000.
- Collective Bill Caspare Memorial Fund Scholarship, to the vale of $6,000.
- James Alan Cox Foundation for Student Photojournalists, to the value of $2,500.
- Upper Midwest Emmy Chapter/Foundation Scholarships, to the value of $3,000.
- William B. Ruggles Journalist Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- Youth in Print Scholarship, to the value of $2,000.
- Yuchengco: Maria Elena Yuchengco Memorial Journalism Scholarship, to the value of $3,000.
Generally speaking, applying for a scholarship means that you have to meet certain requirements. These include studying at a certain school, taking on a certain concentration, aiming to work in a certain field, demonstrating financial need, holding a minimum GPA, belonging to a certain minority group, being a member of a professional organization, or being of a certain gender.
What is of interest for the field of social media management is that there is a huge array of scholarships available. Secondly, the amounts that these scholarships offer are a lot higher than those in many other fields. This is reflective of the expectation that, while social media is something that everybody engages in, there will soon be a need for those who have a professional understanding of how it works and its potential impact.
It is not required to become certified in the field of social media management, but it is often recommended. Through certification, you are able to demonstrate that you are committed to your own professional development, and to the advancement of the field. That said, obtaining a certification does require a further investment of time and money, and you often have to maintain certification through continuous education credits. Nevertheless, most would agree that this is a very worthy investment, as it opens new career doors. Some certifications that you may want to consider in the field of social media management are the:
- Social Media Specialized Studies Award
- Advanced Social Media Strategy Certification
- Social Media Management Certification
- Social Media Professional Certification
- Marketing Certificate with Concentration in Social Media and Web Analytics
- Social Media Marketing ‘mini MBA’
- Social Media Marketing Certification
- Social Media Basics for Healthcare Certification
- Social Media Graduate Certification
It is advisable to become a member of the appropriate professional organizations as soon as you decide to study towards a social media management degree, even at the bachelor’s degree level. This is because professional associations and organizations often offer scholarships and grants that you could then become eligible for. also, by being a member of such associations, you will always be at the forefront of new developments within your field, ensuring your skills are always up to date. In addition, you may be able to complete certifications and continuous education credits. Finally, you can build a professional network that will serve to further your career.
Some of the associations in the field of social media management you may want to consider becoming a member of include the:
- Communications Media Management Association (CMMA)
- Social Media Association (SMA)
- Professional Association of Social Media Managers (PASMM)
- Institute of Association Management
- Sales Management Association – Social Media in Sales
- Torpey, Elka. You’re a What? Social Media Specialist. (2016, Nov.). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2016/youre-a-what/social-media-specialist.htm
- Social Media Manager Salaries in the United States. (2017, Apr. 29). Retrieved from https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Social-Media-Manager-Salaries?from=serpsalaryblock
- Social Media Specialist Salary. (2017, Mar. 25). Retrieved from http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Social_Media_Specialist/Salary
- Social Media Marketing / Bachelor of Science. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lewisu.smartcatalogiq.com/Undergrad-2016-2017/undergraduate-catalog/College-of-Business/Social-Media-Marketing/Social-Media-Marketing-Bachelor-of-Science
- Social Media Management: On Campus & Online. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://scs.georgetown.edu/programs/395/social-media-management/