• Social media management is the process of creating and scheduling content to grow and nurture an audience across social media platforms. It's about strategically creating content, fostering connections and building a loyal audience.
  • Effective social media management goes beyond posting great content. It's about nurturing a community. It helps businesses build relationships with their target audience to increase brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Successful social media management requires a team with a variety of skills. Important skills your team should hold include creativity, adaptability and critical thinking.

Social media management is a catalyst for positive business impact. A strong social media presence amplifies a brand’s awareness, supports customer care and extends reach to new audiences. Effective influencer collaborations can create lasting audience connections. Well-timed creative visuals and copy can change how consumers perceive an organization.

Over the past few years, we’ve watched businesses like Duolingo and Patagonia earn new fans—and customers—from their innovative brand accounts. Their success is part of a carefully crafted approach to building and maintaining a social media marketing strategy.

In this guide, we’re breaking down all the moving parts that go into making social strategies run smoothly. Use these social media management fundamentals to inform your company’s processes, so you can build a follow-worthy presence across the platforms that matter most.

What is social media management?

Social media management is the ongoing process of creating and scheduling content designed to grow and nurture an audience across social media platforms. This includes, but isn't limited to:

  • Social media content strategy
  • Online reputation management
  • Community management and programming
  • Paid social media strategy and execution
  • Team member management and development

The benefits of social media management go far beyond raising brand awareness and staying current on the latest internet trends. The channel is key to building personal connections with target audiences at scale.

The evolution of social media management

The definition of social media management is anything but fixed. Platforms and trends are constantly changing, meaning the responsibilities that go into managing a brand account are always changing too.

For example, in less than a few years, we’ve seen the creator economy completely transform how we post on social. The rise of social messaging has brought conversations from public to private, creating more personal connections between people and the brands they love. Social commerce has revolutionized how business leaders perceive the channel, taking it from awareness-focused to a full-funnel experience.  Artificial intelligence (AI) marketing tools empower professionals to support content creation, customer personalization and data analytics.

These developments prove one thing: Social is driving how consumers interact with businesses, making social media roles business critical.

The role of a social media manager

Social media managers are responsible for developing the strategies that maintain and grow a social presence, on top of administrative and team development tasks. Any given day might involve content creation, campaign strategies, career planning, reporting—the list goes on.

Being successful in such a fluid role requires a unique set of skills, including but not limited to:

  • Adaptability
  • Organization
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Critical thinking

Combined, these talents help social media professionals manage the evolving needs of this business-critical channel.

How to manage social media profiles

It's both an art and a science to manage social media accounts. Your data can give you a good idea of how to spend your resources—in terms of both money and time—but social moves fast. The platform delivering results today might take a dip tomorrow.

Diversifying your network strategy is a reliable way to make sure you’re ready for whatever challenges are thrown at you. An algorithm update on one platform is less of a shock to the system if you have a well-maintained presence across the social landscape.

This is where a social media management tool becomes a must-have. Posting natively (logging into each social network individually to post) across social media profiles is a huge time commitment. Factor in engagement and monitoring, and it becomes more than a full-time job.

Tools like Sprout help businesses scale social operations sustainably. Publishing workflows support customization by network while minimizing risk. After all, managing quality control is much harder when your team is running social natively.

A preview of Sprout's Smart Inbox showing a draft post for Sprout Coffee Co. There is a button to schedule the post in the lower right corner.

These publishing and scheduling features automate and complement existing processes so you can get out of the weeds and into the bigger picture.

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Find your brand’s target audience on social

The key to creating impactful content is identifying your target audience. These are the people that sit within your brand’s total addressable market. Zeroing in on these individuals will allow you to create more effective messaging across your social media profiles.

To better find and appeal to your brand’s target audience, ask the following questions:

  • Who's your current audience?
  • What kind of information are they looking for and why?
  • Where do they go for this information?
  • What topics and cultural moments interest them?
  • Which brands do they trust and what can you learn from them?

The answers to these prompts will inform your approach to social—what platforms you’re present on, how your brand sounds online, what trends appeal to your audience and how you connect with customers.

Getting to know your audience isn't a one-time-only practice. Asking yourself and your team these questions on a routine basis can keep everyone in a customer-first mindset.

Social media planning and content creation

Content creation is a fundamental aspect of social media management. According to The Sprout Social Index™ 2023, people aren’t using their favorite social networks for just connecting with friends and family—they’re using social to discover new brands, discover deals and watch entertaining content. A majority (68%) of consumers say they primarily follow brands to stay informed about new products and services.

A bar chart from The Sprout Social Index™ breaking down consumers’ primary reasons for following a brand on social. The top reasons include: to stay informed about new products or services (68%), access to exclusive deals or promotions (46%), entertaining content (45%) to engage with the community or customers (28%) and values or mission alignment (21%).

A successful social media management strategy will create lasting connections with your audience, but the competition is stiff. On social, you’re up against direct competitors and other elements vying for attention on these platforms. Marketers need to account for other sources of content, like media outlets, publications and creators. They also have to consider the audience social media was originally built for: friends and family. Brands aren’t just competing against other brands, but against a best friend’s vacation photo dump and cute pet photos.

To stand out, you’ll also need to know what people want. Index data shows that consumers want more authentic, non-promotional content, transparency about business practices and sourcing, educational posts and customer testimonials from brands.

A chart from The Sprout Social Index™ ranking what consumers don't see enough of from brands on social media. The list is as follows: 1) Authentic, non-promotional content, 2) transparency about business practices and values, 3)information about how products are made or sourced, 4) educational content related to the brand’s industry and 5) User-generated content or customer testimonials.

Our data serves as a great benchmark, but remember to pay attention to what your specific audience seeks from your brand on social. Does your audience enjoy funny or educational content? Commentary on trending topics? A community? Tips and tricks? Finding out where you fit can help your business maintain relevance in an always-on social landscape.

Centering your audience also supports your content planning. For example, if you discover your audience wants more short-form videos, you can plan for this with your content calendar.

Video is a powerful way to capture your audience’s attention without requiring a major time commitment on their end. However, a diversified social media marketing strategy makes use of all types of content. This may seem overwhelming, but it’s‌ an opportunity to save time and resources because you can repurpose and reuse the content you create to further promote your brand.

An Instagram post from Sprout Social promoting their podcast Social Creatures. The caption shares details about an episode featuring Gymshark.

You can use a single live video stream to create dozens of short-form video clips, GIFs, text posts and more. At Sprout, we use our Social Creatures podcast to inform posts across networks like Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok.

Team member management

Data from The Sprout Social Index shows 64% of modern social media teams are organized by network, which means one member is responsible for a specific platform. For example, one member might oversee only TikTok while another focuses on Instagram.

This popular structure is changing as consumer preferences shift and new platforms emerge. Teams must commit to ongoing development and nurture social media skills that prepare them for a changing landscape.

A data visualization from The Sprout Social Index™ showing the most prominent modern social team structure. The chart shows 64% of respondents are aligned to specific social networks, meaning there is a designated person for each platform.

Here are four skills to work on as you build your social media team:

  • Reporting and analytics: As you move into a people management position, you’ll find yourself having to speak for your team’s efforts more often. Understanding how to gather and synthesize information through storytelling with data is key to explaining the impact of your social media management strategy.
  • Time management: This one is especially critical in hybrid or remote work. Stand-ups, one-on-ones, project kickoffs and all the other meetings that need to happen to execute a strategy can quickly eat away at your calendar. Protect your time by scheduling designated focus hours and conducting regular meeting audits.
  • Feedback: Being able to give and receive constructive feedback is more than a skill. It’s a catalyst for improving performance and a pillar of workplace culture. Gallup data shows employees are 3.6 times more likely to strongly agree they're motivated to do outstanding work when their manager provides daily (vs. annual) feedback.
  • Empathy: Most social media professionals have to stay online through brand crises, world tragedies and times of uncertainty. Don’t wait until someone is battling social media burnout to start taking preventative measures. Advocate for your team and keep mental health at the forefront of your conversations.

Reputation management

Have you ever thought about buying from a company only to find out they have poor online reviews? Did you follow through on that purchase? If you didn’t, you’re not alone.

A Brightlocal study shows 91% of consumers say local branch reviews influence their overall perceptions of brands. Consumers also use social networks like Instagram (34%) and TikTok (23%) to research businesses as alternatives to local business review platforms.

Social media reputation management is a critical yet often overlooked aspect of social media management. While it may not fall under a social practitioner’s core responsibilities, it’s vital to the success of all businesses.

If you’re new to reputation management, here are three rules to guide your strategy:

1. Ask for reviews with tact

Don’t wait for reviews to roll in on their own. But how do you ask for reviews effectively?

Reach out to fans and power users to see if they’d be interested in sharing their experiences with your product or services. Be sure to make the process as easy as possible. Providing a specific prompt or template can increase customer follow-through.

2. Respond to both the good and the bad

That same BrightLocal survey found 88% of consumers would use a business that responds to positive and negative reviews, compared to 47% that said they'd consider using a business that doesn’t respond to any reviews. Responding to negative reviews is difficult but a powerful way to show consumers you value and respect their feedback.

3. Be proactive about risk management

Feedback won’t always come through direct channels. People often talk about your business on their personal profiles without tagging or mentioning your brand account.

Sprout's  Sentiment Summary which shows the percentage of positive and negative sentiment and changes in sentiment trends over time.

A social listening strategy helps you stay on top of the many conversations surrounding your business and industry. A social listening tool like Sprout supports an opportunity-driven brand reputation management strategy that helps you create lasting connections with your audience.

Customer care

Providing excellent social media customer service supports reputation management, boosts customer loyalty and increases brand awareness. Index data shows a majority of consumers (76%) notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support. Consumers (70%) also expect brands to provide personalized responses to customer service needs.

To meet these expectations, social teams must anticipate customer needs and take a proactive approach to customer care. This can be achieved through:

  • Self-service tools like FAQs and help center
  • Educational social media content about your product and services
  • Interacting with customers throughout the buyer journey
  • Responding to customer complaints, concerns and questions from social

Being responsive and providing ample resources will help your social team support customer care and mitigate potential crises.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has transformed over the past decade. Brands are working with influencers that have various following sizes and different niches to nurture community, build trust and appeal to new audiences.

Knowing how to find and choose the right influencers for your social campaigns, along with understanding how to define and measure success, is a necessary part of social media management. You also need to consider which influencer marketing trends are relevant to your industry and target audiences.

For example, The 2024 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report found the food and drink, beauty and fashion industries are the most popular influencer marketing topics across all consumers.

Social media management and scheduling tools

Managing an active social media presence with native publishing tools was challenging five years ago. Today, it's virtually impossible to do it alone. Between sharing content, responding to consumers and managing paid initiatives, social media calendars are more jam-packed than ever. Businesses must invest in social media management and scheduling tools to keep up with the demands of a modern social media strategy.

The benefits of a social media management tool include, but aren’t limited to the following:

  • Increased brand awareness with optimized post times for improved performance.
  • Better engagement by consolidating inbound messages into a single location for faster response times.
  • Improved analytics that provide a more holistic view into the overall performance of your social strategy.
  • Increased time savings through automation and capabilities like post scheduling, enabling you to manage multiple social media accounts from one dashboard and removing the need to log in to platforms separately
  • Improved collaboration through task assignments, editorial calendars‌ and approval workflows, which streamline the content creation and posting process.

Adopting a social media management tool enriches your entire marketing tech stack, making it easier to connect the dots on social's impact across your organization.

Managing a social media calendar

Your social media content strategy outlines the overarching themes that inform your publishing schedule and how it relates to business goals. Your social media content calendar provides a more granular look at what you're posting and when across platforms.

In an ideal state, your content calendar can support organization and brainstorming. A bird's eye view of your upcoming social media posts can help determine if you're hitting the content mix outlined in your strategy.

For example, say recruiting top talent is a high priority for your business. A look at your social media content calendar can tell you whether you have enough employer brand posts scheduled over the next week or month.

A preview of Sprout Social's publishing calendar in month view. The calendar shows scheduled posts and campaigned across networks.

This visibility will make it easier to identify which content themes need more attention. Pro tip: If you're using Sprout, you can use Calendar Notes to keep track of potential content ideas.

Paid social media ads

If you’re weighing the merits of relying on organic vs. paid social media, don’t worry—there’s no need to choose.

Your organic efforts support long-term relationships with your followers. Your social media advertising strategy, on the other hand, will help you reach new audiences quickly and reliably through targeting.

Manage your social media organic and paid efforts together to keep your brand top of mind with existing and prospective customers. If you can manage them within the same tool, that’s even better.

A preview of Sprout's Facebook and Instagram Paid Performance dashboard.

For example, Sprout supports in-platform paid social promotion and reporting so marketers can keep their finger on the pulse of their performance. That way, you can make sure you spend money effectively and adjust the budget if needed.

Social media community management

Online communities have been around for a while, but they’ve never been more important than they are today. Take Oatly’s TikTok account for instance. The food company joined the platform in October 2022 , earning over 600,000 followers and 8.5 million likes in only six months.

Oatly uses the TikTok comments to showcase their brand voice, interact with their audience and respond to organic conversations. For example, when comedian Simon David made a funny video about Oatly’s theme song, the brand responded quickly in the comments. Their comment earned over 20,000 likes—almost a third of all likes on the video.

This example shows how conversations with your community don't have to be product-focused all the time. Posts that aren’t product-related still provide social teams with an invaluable look into the needs of their audience. If you want to stay in tune with your target audience, you must use community management on social media to give them a place to make connections.

Like Rome, building an active social community isn’t possible in a day. Whether it’s the TikTok comments or Facebook Groups, if you’re launching a new program or an entirely new community, take a slow and steady approach. Consider starting with an invite-only or beta program designed for loyal customers and power users to test-drive your strategy. Once you’re in a groove, you can expand to a larger audience.

Additional social media management resources

If you’re looking for more resources on social media management, we’ve gathered additional reads below:

Navigate the changing world of social media management with confidence

Social media provides businesses with the insights and intelligence needed to understand where they fit in today’s cultural landscape. A strong social media management strategy does more than just maintain an online presence. It can help a brand gain relevance, earn fans and future-proof itself for years to come.

When you take native publishing out of the equation, you open your team up to a world of possibilities. Sprout’s social media management tools minimize manual efforts so you can focus on strengthening your strategy and connecting with your customers. Try out Sprout for yourself and sign up for a free 30-day trial.


What is the importance of social media management for companies?

Social media management is important for companies because a strong online presence contributes to quality community engagement, brand reputation and customer care. A successful social media management strategy fosters brand awareness and loyalty.

What are the business functions of social media management?

Social media’s primary business function is marketing and customer service. By publishing relevant content and communicating directly with customers, brands can identify opportunities to improve their products and services. Effective social media management can also contribute to sales and improve targeted efforts like influencer marketing where a strategic approach is key to success.