The role of the social media manager is still relatively new. Ten years ago, if you told someone you were seeking a career as a social media manager, they’d more than likely have no idea what you were talking about. But as social media started to grow, the communication platforms turned into a vital piece of the marketing puzzle. Now businesses are hiring individuals and building teams specifically to tackle social media.
In fact, job openings for social media positions on LinkedIn grew by more than 1,300% since 2010. The role of a social media manager is the top position in the industry based on the number of members using the title on LinkedIn.
Generally the people working as a social media manager or seeking a job as one come from some marketing-related field and their skills/knowledge transfer over well into the world of social media. Depending on what their background, social media managers have certain advantages and disadvantages.
We’ve put together a list of seven different types of social media managers. If you’re looking to hire a new person for your team, you can use this as a guide for what to expect. If you’re currently working as a social media manager, then try to see which type you are and what skills you can borrow from the others!
1. The SEO-Minded Social Media Manager
Most companies specifically ask for someone with experience or knowledge of Search Engine Optimization skills within the job description. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a lot of people in these positions used to work in SEO. Social media and SEO are closely tied together and the work done for one usually impacts the other on some level. For example, if your SEO strategy includes outreach marketing, you’ll probably be doing some connecting on Twitter and LinkedIn.
You’ll notice the use of specific keywords when an SEO-minded manager tweets.
The SEO-minded social media manager has the goals of using social media as a part of a bigger strategy. They look to connect with other people on social media as a way to earn links, get a guest post or another content opportunity. Some signs of a SEO-minded manager are:
- You view social media as a means to an end
- You’re an analytical thinker
- You make decisions based on data and trends
Pros of SEO-Minded SM Managers
- Understands the use of keywords and how to take advantage of social media optimization
- Works well with the SEO team and can contribute the search strategy
- Good at finding opportunities to earn links through social media
- Takes an analytical approach and isn’t afraid of data and trends
Cons of SEO-Minded SM Managers
- Sometimes the created content can be too focused on keywords
- Not as much focus is given on building long-term genuine relationships through social media
- Tend to see social media as just a piece of the SEO strategy instead of its own entity
- May not spend as much time engaging and interacting if there isn’t an opportunity to gain something in return
2. The Advertising Social Media Manager
The advertising social media manager has a lot of potential, but at the same time, they could ruin your social media presence if you’re not careful. This type of manager is heavily focused on creating and executing campaigns through social media instead of simply using it as a tool to keep in touch or share blog posts.
Here’s an example of the type of Tweet an advertising social media manager might send:
— Pepsi™ (@pepsi) October 23, 2015
Some of the biggest signs that you may be an advertising social media manager are:
- Almost everything done on social media is a part of a specific campaign
- Your instinct is to promote on social media
- You’re always thinking of creative ways to use social media within your business
The Pros of Advertising SM Managers
- Extremely creative and comes up with out-the-box strategies
- Not afraid to use social media to generate leads
- Takes strategic approaches
The Cons of Advertising SM Managers
- Sometimes too sales driven on social media
- Focuses on the “big campaign” and spends less time on the day-to-day social media activities
- Not as much focus on building an organic and loyal social media following
3. The Social Butterfly Social Media Manager
Unlike most of the other types of managers on the list, the social butterfly social media manager more than likely hasn’t worked in marketing specifically. They tend to be younger (millennials) and grew up using social media for personal use. They may already have somewhat of a following on their own social media accounts and now they’re looking to use what they know for business.
Social butterfly social media managers spend a good amount of time replying to other people, even when they aren’t tagged.
They love the social aspect of social media, and they tend to have a bit of a different and fresh perspective on social media marketing since they’ve primarily used it as a consumer. Some of the signs of a social butterfly social media manager are:
- You’ve built up a large following on your own social media accounts
- You’re always the first to try new social networks
- You understand the unique differences of how each social network is used
The Pros of Social Butterfly SM Managers
- Genuinely enjoys using social media
- Able to approach social media marketing from the perspective of a consumer
- Can give brands a unique voice that appeals to the masses
The Cons of Social Butterfly SM Managers
- Lacks experience with online marketing
- May not know how to deal with PR issues or crisis management appropriately
- Tends to take a less strategic approach to social media management
4. The PR Social Media Manager (A.K.A. The Jerry Maguire)
Jerry Maguire is a movie about a sports agent (Tom Cruise) who gets fired from an agency and starts his own with a single client, Rod Tidwell. The problem is that his client doesn’t exactly have the best reputation or attitude. Throughout the movie, Jerry tries to get Rod to improve his public persona. Jerry’s job is to make sure Rod doesn’t slip up and make mistakes that will make him unmarketable. And that’s a similar to the way public relations social media managers approach their role.
The public relations social media manager focuses on reputation management and making sure your company looks its best on social media. They might have come from a background in communications or even advertising. Having a social media manager experienced in the world of public relations can prevent social media fails like these from happening.
PR social media managers aren’t shy about letting followers know about their social initiatives.
You may be a PR social media manager if:
- You prefer to resolve issues rather than avoid them
- You’re careful about what gets Tweeted or posted to Facebook
- You take a socially conscious approach to social media
The Pros of PR SM Managers
- Specializes in avoiding humiliating situations that could damage brands
- Prioritizes consistent branding and voice through all social media channels
- Knows how to respond to negative attention on social media
The Cons of PR SM Managers
- Lacks experience in the more technical areas such as SMO
- Can paint an image of the company that appears unrealistic or non-genuine
- Can have difficulty putting together a solid plan to generate leads on social media
5. The Content Wizard Social Media Manager
Content marketers are also a fairly new position in marketing that really started to take off over the past few years. In today’s social media age, companies place more emphasis on producing content for SEO and branding purposes and social media is driven by content. As a result, we’re seeing a lot of content marketers and even bloggers take on positions as social media managers.
Content Wizards share the best and most relevant content, even if it’s from another company or website.
Content Wizards have a deep understanding of how to match great content with a target audience. They also know how to create that content and get it shared. The top signs of a Content Wizard social media manager are:
- You’re a strong writer
- You constantly consume and collect content from around the Web
- You experiment with all types of content including video, audio, graphics and text
The Pros of Content Wizard SM Managers
- Creates the type of content that can go viral
- Great at curating content for target audiences
- Focuses on quality instead of quantity
The Cons of Content Wizard SM Managers
- Doesn’t take an analytical/data driven approach
- Focuses more on engaging with influencers on social media rather than customers and leads
- Can spend too much time working on content that doesn’t deliver a positive ROI
6. The Scientific Social Media Manager
The scientific social media manager thrives off metrics and data. Nearly every decision they make is based off of past results and trends. If something is able to be tracked, you can guarantee they’re going to track it. Sometimes they have a SEO background, but this type of social media manager takes an even more analytical approach than the SEO-minded manager. They’re “numbers people.”
Scientific social media managers are formulaic and like to stick to a specific format for social media posts because they know it works.
You could be a scientific social media manager if this sounds like you:
- You frequently check your social media reports
- You like information represented in charts and graphs
- You’re good at noticing trends and patterns within data
The Pros of Scientific SM Managers
- Can easily explain decision-making process
- Makes it simpler to calculate social media ROI
- Interprets data and uses the information to make smarter decisions
The Cons of Scientific SM Managers
- Doesn’t like to take risks on ideas that don’t have research behind them
- Often reactive rather than proactive when coming up with new initiatives
- Tends to neglect the parts of social media that aren’t easy to track
7. The Purebred Social Media Manager
The purebred social media manager has been groomed for the position. They go beyond just helping companies be present on social media and actually help them build their business around it. These managers are rare, but they’re typically the type of person most companies have in mind when looking for a social media manager.
Most of the time purebred managers are younger and have a mixture of real life experience through working in an entry level type position in social media, and some formal education through online courses or college classes. For them, the role of social media manager was something they knew about early on and aspired to work toward.
Purebred social media managers know how to create the type of content that’s going to connect with their audience, and go beyond the “norm.”
— Nike (@Nike) September 25, 2015
They don’t just know what to do to be successful on social media, but they know how to execute it too. Some signs you might be a purebred social media manager are:
- You’ve worked in a social media role before (a social media associate, coordinator, consultant)
- You have a working knowledge of how to create and execute social media marketing strategies
- Social media is the primary marketing channel you’ve studied and are familiar with
The Pros of Purebred SM Managers
- Creates and executes entire social media strategies from start to finish
- Successful with any social media channel
- Forward thinking and constantly coming up with new ideas/strategies
The Cons of Purebred SM Managers
- Are easily spread too thin
- Often in high demand and hard to find
- Not particularly strong in any single area
Which Social Media Manager are You?
Are you a scientific social media manager, content wizard or a combination of a few of these seven types? Let us know in the comments!
And if you’re trying to become a better social media manager, check out the 5 Habits of Successful Social Media Managers!
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Great article, thanks for sharing. I feel like I'm a bit of everything, maybe more PR focused. Good to know there are separate position out there so one doesn't have to do everything!
LOVE this! I am definitely a social butterfly for www.arcreactions.com and it's FABULOUS! :) It did make me wan tto cultivate some of the other talents from the other types, so well played!
@BuffyE awesome! Taking bits and pieces from each type is a good move.
Nice Dominique... one thing to add is that larger brands (like Nike, for example) probably have a team that consists of there various types of managers; one in charge of measurement, one of community, one for content planning, etc.
@JasKeller I agree with you there Jason. Ideally you'd want a mix of these different types of managers to build a well-rounded strategy.
Awesome article, Dominique. Would you be willing to share the pdf of this? I would love to have this in print. Cut & Paste is just not going to do it. Thx!
@Karyn Smith Hey Karyn, thanks for checking the article out. I actually don't have a PDF version of the post but here's a tool I like to use to turn blog posts into printable PDF's. It's really cool. http://www.printfriendly.com/
@Claudis Awesome Claudis! glad you liked the article.