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The Essential Elements of a Social Media Manager

Social media manager, specialist, or strategist — whatever the title, there’s no question that the folks behind the handle possess a variety of skills developed, honed, and improved over time (after all, innovation is a constantly evolving expectation for this role). 

At first glance, the duties of a social media manager may seem intuitive, but there’s a lot more to it. Social media managers need to have the right combination of five essential elements that enable them to create high-quality content, understand analytics, and keep exploring new trends. 

Writing Chops

Good social media managers are also good writers. They have to be! While the tone on most social media platforms is informal and playful, most brands still adhere to regular grammar guidelines and organizational tone requirements. The person responsible for writing public-facing content on behalf of an organization needs to have a solid understanding of basic syntax and grammar rules as well as their own brand’s standards.

In addition to a strong writing foundation, social media managers also need to be able to write compelling, intentional, and engaging content. Having a writing background is one thing, but that extra bit of spice, wit, and quirk is what will make a brand’s content stand out from the crowd. 

Creative Juices

Writing is important, but social media isn’t just about words — graphics and videos are all fair game. A strong social media manager has to have the chops to help create that content. Most social media managers don’t necessarily need a formal background in graphic design or multimedia creation, but it’s important that they can get their hands dirty in photo- and video-editing tools from time to time.

In the last year alone, video content has become a force to be reckoned with. Video has always been a popular medium on YouTube and Facebook, but the popularity of TikTok and now Reels makes video something no social media manager can ignore. The good news is that the content within the video usually matters more than the production value of the video itself. That means that social media managers can rely on their smartphones or contributions from their team for quick video content instead of spending weeks storyboarding high-cost video projects. Regardless of the type of content being shared, the important takeaway is that a social media manager must have the creative ability to help execute it.

A Foundation in Community

At their core, social media managers are community people (community leaders, in fact!). Ideally, they understand what it means to foster and grow an online community and build trust and loyalty among their followers. Accumulating a lot of followers may be the goal, but having loyal, active followers who share a vested interest in the brand’s success is a gamechanger — and a good social media manager can help make that happen. 

Tactics like giveaways, contests, or influencer programs will help any social media manager grow their community, but it’s helpful to have a deep understanding of their community. They should know what type of content their followers like or what kind of tone and delivery lands the best. This in-depth knowledge of their followers and their community is an essential skill. 

Hunger for Data

A social media manager also has to be a bit of a data nerd, because the world of social media is full of analytics just waiting to be measured. The platforms and apps themselves are full of valuable metrics, but there are also a variety of tool sets available that aggregate all of an organization’s social media metrics into a single spot.

Measuring and quantifying social media initiatives is valuable on two fronts. First, it helps one curate and hone in on the type of content an organization’s followers want to see, which will ultimately help engage and grow the social following. Second, it helps show the impact of social media on a company’s growth. Measuring and reporting on key metrics is a win/win for any social media manager.


Finally, a social media manager needs to have an innate curiosity about the world of social media and internet culture. There is so much happening online at any given moment; it takes a certain type of curious but creative thinker to explore and figure out how to embrace what’s already out there. Far too often, folks feel like they need to reinvent the wheel, but so much of what trends on social media is simply a slightly different take on a familiar video or meme. 

Social media managers who spend time studying trends, researching what others are doing, and exploring new avenues for connecting with their followers will almost certainly find success with their content. Being a curious social media manager means having an interest in online culture and understanding how to apply what’s out there to a specific organization.

With each passing year, social media management becomes more necessary and more robust. Most organizations would benefit from a dedicated social media manager, but an organization will see even more value if that person possesses these essential elements: writing and creative chops, an interest in analytics, an understanding of community, and a curious nature.

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