Social media managers are responsible for managing the various social media channels that their company or organization uses, be it to deliver a specific message, enhance the public image or increase visibility. To this end, they develop a suitable communication strategy for their own objectives and target audiences. They establish profiles and groups in the respective channels and forums, create the content for these and keep it up-to-date. Depending on the size and type of company, social media management can be carried out by a single person, a whole department or be one of the tasks of the media spokesperson.
As with (online) journalism, the focus may be on content, i.e. the writing of articles and informative texts. In this case, the activities mainly aim at the exploitation of additional information channels, and the creation of direct communication and feedback channels for the respective readers, e.g. via forums or comment sections.
In many cases, however, the goal of social media activities is not only the creation of content, but also online marketing, i.e. increasing awareness of the institution, maintaining its image or social branding. In order to be found by internet users as quickly and easily as possible, targeted search engine optimization (SEO) is particularly important.
Another important marketing tool in social media are so-called influencers (e.g. bloggers), who influence the consumer behavior of certain target groups through their strong web presence and a high number of followers. The boundaries between content and advertising may often be blurred and not always clearly distinguishable for the target audience in this context. Some advertisers use the published content only to generate as much traffic as possible on their own websites and thus earn money through advertising. In order to increase their own traffic, some also resort to the controversial method of click-baiting.
No matter if it is advertising or information transfer – in social media marketing, it is usually also important to know and increase the visibility of your own content. This is measured via key performance indicators (KPIs) such as customer loyalty, awareness or image, and determined by the number of clicks, shares, comments and likes, the range of the posts, the number of followers as well as their age, gender and origin. Analysis tools provided by the social media companies themselves or by third-party providers can be used for this purpose. Monitoring, evaluating and reporting on user behavior will therefore be an important part of the work.
The content formats of social media editorial departments range from informative articles and tutorials to raffles and other participatory activities. Since there is already a lot of information available on the internet, it is also one of the tasks of social media managers to filter out the most relevant or exciting material for their own target group from the existing material, and to present it to the audience in a new way, which is referred to as Content Curation in the industry.
There is no specific professional training path one can follow to become a social media manager. Some employers offer their own traineeships in this field and there are some training courses on the market to prepare for the job which are subject to a fee. However, a direct entry after graduation from university is also possible. Above all, a high affinity for texts, target group-oriented thinking and, of course, a routine in dealing with the various social media channels are important. Experience with content management systems or in search engine optimization etc. may also be useful.