Social media managers wear many hats, filling necessary and strategic roles ranging from marketing specialist to customer care provider. Engaging with audiences, addressing comments and complaints, and staying true to a brand’s voice is a never-ending, but critical endeavor in the digital age.

But what about when you’re ready to take the next step?

Fortunately, working in social media builds a broad range of transferable skills. Research, analytics, creativity and communication all provide strong foundations for social media managers thinking about their next big career move.

What’s next for social media managers, and what are the skills necessary to take steps towards a new job title? Here are eight career paths to consider, and how to get there.

1. Community management

For those attracted to the connectivity of social, community management widens the scope of brand networking and is a great next step for the social media manager. As a community manager, you’ll focus on fostering relationships with your brand’s audience through additional channels like forums, newsletters and events.

Communities aren’t limited to only your customers, either. Developers, tech support and brand advocates all have commonalities which can be leveraged to build connections within an organization. These communities can work, learn and grow together—all while moving the brand to new heights.

Consider this role if:

  • You want to grow and nurture a community that contributes to long-term business impact.
  • You enjoy interacting with people online and prioritize customer trust above all else.
  • You have strong internal and external communication skills.
Social media careers - community management

If you’re interested in community management and looking for a great resource to answer questions like the one above, check out the CMX Hub group on Facebook to connect with other like-minded social pros.

2. Marketing generalist

Want to branch out from social, but still not sure which discipline is right for you? A marketing generalist role is perfect for social media managers looking to transition to something new.

Small and mid-market businesses are always looking for a Jack (or Jill!) of all trades who can meet a variety of marketing needs from email marketing to writing to social strategy, and 78% of marketing leaders say they they need both specialists and generalists on their team. Roles in this vein might have titles like marketing specialist, digital marketing coordinator or marketing associate.

A marketing generalist will try their hand at everything. They’ll build a deeper understanding across multiple disciplines like product, brand and content marketing but also have an opportunity to manage projects. And while the marketing generalist will learn a number of new skills across functions, all generalists should have a strong foundation in certain areas. To be successful in this role, you should have a strong foundation in writing, research, data analysis and project management.

Consider this role if:

  • You’re eager to explore multiple disciplines under the marketing umbrella.
  • You aren’t ready to specialize in one area but want to open up more career options for the future.
  • You consider yourself a team player who values organization and management.

3. Content marketing

For social media managers who find the most joy in creating content, a career in content marketing could be the perfect next step. Unlike the character-count restraints often associated with social content creation, content marketing offers an outlet for every marketer’s creative proclivity. And like social, the field of content marketing is growing: A study by Conductor found that there was a 112% increase in content marketing job openings from 2018 to 2019.

social media careers - content marketing

Most content marketing professionals will get their start with content writing in the form of blog posts, website copy, emails and newsletters. Beyond the obvious writing skills needed, it’s useful to have a working knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) and familiarity with publishing platforms like WordPress.

You’ll also be faced with a choice of two paths to take within the content marketing space: Do you want to strictly produce content? Or is developing strategy more in line with your goals? Either way, successful content marketers are expected to not only create great works but to also manage, analyze and iterate for future content.

Consider this role if:

  • You have a passion for storytelling and want to explore content creation outside of the social space.
  • You’re looking for an opportunity to combine creativity with analytics.
  • You have strong research skills to complement your long-form writing ability.

4. Creative design

For social media managers with an eye for great visual content, a career in the creative department combines social know-how with artistic passion. If your favorite content is the most aesthetically pleasing, or you can tell with one look whether an image is on-brand, then art direction or graphic design sound right up your alley.

Social media careers creative designer

This role involves more than just creating photos and graphics. As a designer or art director, you’ll contribute to the development of the brand’s visual language, tone and creative elements. In addition to creating graphics and other assets, designers are responsible for ensuring all creative outputs are aligned with a brand’s key messaging and will often collaborate with video and motion graphics teams on multimedia projects.

Designers need to have strong creative skills, but they also need to bring business skills like exceptional interpersonal abilities and strategic thinking to the table. If you’re someone with a deep understanding of the latest creative trends, are able to solve hard problems and have an overall interest in the visual field, a design career may be in your future.

Consider this role if:

  • You have excellent communication skills and work well with a number of teams across marketing.
  • You have a passion for combining creativity with social marketing to achieve business objectives.

5. Social media consulting

If you feel like you’ve become a bit of a social media marketing expert, consider the role of a social media consultant. In this role, you’ll manage multiple client relationships and advise a variety of brands on how to build and deploy their social strategies. As a consultant, you’ll be helping clients develop their presence online and directly impact goals like raising awareness and increasing website traffic.

Social media consultants are often freelancers or self-employed. Businesses hiring consultants are looking for an objective but informed eye; someone who has something productive to say about their marketing strategy. Consultants are excellent at identifying problems and coming up with solutions. If that’s you, it may be time to research demand for your skills and business ownership resources available to you. Or, if you prefer to work with a team, look for strategist roles at an agency where you’ll work with a range of clients.

This role is right for you if:

  • You enjoy helping others solve hard problems and bringing thoughtful solutions to the table.
  • You’re able to flex to different industries or business needs and support others in achieving their long-term social goals.
  • You’re a social media expert and know how to supplement your knowledge with additional research.

6. Data analysis or market research

Identifying and understanding the right audience are necessary elements of any successful social strategy. Social media managers have plenty of experience interacting with customers, community members and other groups, laying firm groundwork towards career growth in market research. Learning how to design and conduct research, as well as analyze results, can easily transform a social media career into something more data-centered.

Social media analysts already leverage information to identify trends, make predictions, and better connect with audiences. Transferring skills learned from social media listening and analyzing campaign results make springboarding into an analyst role a real possibility. Successful analysts have a strong grasp on both qualitative and quantitative data and can communicate their insights to key stakeholders in an easy, digestible way.

Consider this role if:

  • You live and breathe data—all of your decisions are backed by numbers.
  • You’re able to spot and measure trends within the social media landscape.
  • You go beyond basic tracking and enjoy analyzing data to make more educated business decisions.

7. Brand strategy

As a social media manager, you’re likely already familiar with brand strategy. It’s what defines a brand’s voice and tone; informs the messaging you use when talking about the brand; and enhances the brand’s overall reputation. And as someone already trusted to manage a brand’s social media presence, making the leap from social media to brand strategy is a logical next step.

Strategists combine audience data, marketing trends and creativity to create long-term marketing strategies for brands. They help develop positioning recommendations and define brand elements and style guidelines, ensuring consistent messaging across platforms and assets. In addition to excellent communication skills, the best brand strategists can conduct competitive research, are up to date on market trends and have strong critical thinking skills. As a brand strategist, you’ll take a step back from focusing solely on social strategy and look at how social media fits into the bigger picture.

Consider this role if:

  • You enjoy thinking about the big picture and how various marketing initiatives ladder up to the overall brand goal.
  • You’re a problem solver at heart with a knack for uncovering key insights that inform overall strategy development.

8. Leading a social team

If you’ve been working in social for a while, odds are you’ve developed an idea of what it takes to make a social media team click. Even better, you’ve probably learned some lessons about what doesn’t contribute to team cohesion and motivation.

Taking on a leadership role means giving up hands-on control of social media management. Your focus will shift from publishing social content to managing a team doing the publishing for you. As a leader or manager, you’ll provide direction, support and feedback to direct reports and work with your team to develop their professional growth.

Switching to a leadership role does call for multiple hard and soft skills, like being able to set goals, recognize talent and motivate a team even as targets change. If you’re still on the fence about pursuing a leadership position, consider participating in mentorship programs and developing your team-building skills.

Consider this role if:

  • You’re looking to move into a more hands-off role that is still closely involved in the social media landscape.
  • You’re passionate about nurturing the growth of those around you.
  • You enjoy providing constructive feedback to others and have a knack for motivating your peers.

While many social media managers feel stuck at some point in their career, it’s clear that they don’t have to stay there. If anything, working in social provides the convenient problem of having many career paths to choose from.