By Cassy van Eeden

Previously, the duty of social media and community management – especially within the media industry – was generally the responsibility of a number of employees. Now there are social media managers and even specialised MBAs and other qualifications in social media management.

So, what is a social media manager?

Digital marketing specialist, Michael Patterson, explains that: “A social media manager is responsible for being the band on social media. They create content, respond to comments, answer questions, and much more.”

An important part of the function of a social media manager is forming and maintaining relationships. They are also usually required to “strategically create and distribute a brand’s content across a variety of different social networks”, says Patterson.

What do social media managers do?

A common misconception about social media managers is that they simply spend all day browsing Facebook and Twitter. The truth is that there is a lot more to managing social media than this.

Writing for the BufferSocial blog, content crafter Kevan Lee, says that the average 40 hour week for a social media manager looks something like this:

  • Four hours spend on updating social networks by posting text, photos, videos and comments.
  • Seven and a half hours are spent on planning, writing and publishing blog posts.
  • Around four hours are spend on sourcing internal and external content as well is managing he editorial calendar.
  • They spend around two and a half hours reading RSS feeds, filtering, curating and sharing content.
  • Four hours per week are spent on engagement. This includes responding to follows, mentions, dialogue, questions and comments.
  • At least five hours are spent on problem solving, unscheduled posts, social research and damage control.
  • A further two and a half hours are spent on community building, running campaigns, measurement and analytics and tactical planning respectively.

What skills do social media managers need?

Whether you’re looking to hire a social media manager or pursue it as a career, you need to know what the core skills, qualities and qualifications a successful social media manager would need.

Ellie Mirman, HubSpot’s inbound marketing team leader, says that social media managers need strong copywriting and design skills as well as a knowledge of positioning and a discernible level of creativity.

Another important skill is the ability to dig into and analyse data and to draw actionable insights. In order to do this, social media managers need to have the ability to analyse data, conduct experiments and process and present data.

She adds that social media managers need to be information-hungry. “They need to know what people are saying, what’s changing on social networks and in the industry, and be able to react and respond accordingly.” Experience in content curation and professional communication skills are necessary here.

Social media managers also need to be resourceful and have the ability to connect people and stimulate discussion in order to be an effective community facilitator. “Facilitating a community takes work, including asking questions to seed discussions and kicking out people who spam or otherwise detract from the community,” Mirman adds.

What are your thoughts? Is social media important enough to you to hire someone solely dedicated to managing it? Let us know in the comments below.