How to Become a Social Media Manager? (Freelance and Full-time)
How-To Guides

How to Become a Social Media Manager? (Freelance and Full-time)

Anda Radulescu
Anda Radulescu

Table of Contents

In 2021, more than half of the world's population used social media.

Now more than ever, brands understand the value of hiring a social media specialist to manage their online presence due to its widespread use.

To find out what you'll need to be a social media manager, if you don't have any experience or a degree, continue reading.

Table of Contents

  1. How to become a freelance social media manager in 3 steps?
    1.1.Build your portfolio
    1.2.Grow your online community
    1.3.Develop and sharpen your skills

  2. How to become a social media manager without a degree?

  3. How to become a social media manager with no experience?
    3.1.Look for internships or traineeships
    3.2.Subscribe to newsletters to stay updated
    3.3.Be active on all relevant platforms
    3.4.Connect with more experienced marketers
    3.5.Listen to industry-related podcasts

  4. 10 skills social media managers must have

1. How to become a freelance social media manager in three steps?

Maybe you're a working professional who has discovered your current position isn't quite what you expected. Perhaps you're a college student and you're reconsidering your career options for the future.

Either way, you may have heard how trendy this job is nowadays and maybe you're curious about what a social media manager does daily and how to become one.

Whether you want to become a freelance social media manager or a full-time social media marketing manager, here are three things you need to do:

1.1 Build a portfolio

A portfolio can help you stand out from the crowd by enhancing who you are as a candidate.

Professional portfolios are an excellent way to demonstrate the skills you'd list on your resume or in an interview.

During a job search, portfolios help support your CV by demonstrating what you can do and how you work.

LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and even Instagram are excellent platforms for showcasing and promoting your work, whether through visual content or links to publications you've collaborated on.

Nicole Schmiedl, a former social media manager at The North Face, confesses that the job involves being responsive, culturally aware, and confident in making decisions on behalf of the company.

She also provided Socialinsider with some insider tips for prospective social media managers.

Nicole Schmiedl The North Face Social Media Manager Advice

1.2. Grown your online community

Today, any social media strategy must include digital networking and community-building.

Let's think about it.

Why are people on social media in the first place?

Individuals use social networks because they allow them to form relationships with people they might not otherwise be able to meet.

You also use social media websites and apps to connect with family, friends, and people who share your interests as you do.

This is called "social networking."

Cristian Florea, a social media strategist, feels that social media can no longer be overlooked when promoting a business. He says that many people use social media for advertising their brand while ignoring the primary goal of social media platforms, which is to connect with others.

Quote of social media strategist Cristian Florea

And while social media was initially designed to be used in your spare time, it has evolved into a professional tool for connecting with people in your sector worldwide.

Networking allows you to build a solid and trustworthy relationship with marketers alike. It also encourages people to become more involved with your brand.

Networking may help you build trust with marketers alike, but it can also help you leverage new career opportunities.

Also, attending professional events is another excellent way to share helpful information and knowledge with other marketers, whether online or in person.

The discussions during these meetings are often insightful and might lead to new ideas.

According to Albert Huisman, the founder of Y Content, it's always better to reach fewer people and convert the appropriate individuals than to have many likes and follows but not sell anything.

Quote of Albert Huisman founder of Y Content

1.3. Develop and sharpen your marketing skills

We had MySpace ten years ago. We now have TikTok.

Because social media networks come, go, or evolve, it's critical to stay updated, adaptable, and continue to sharpen your marketing skills.

Social media management is not just about following the latest news or creating engaging content. It's about using key skills to develop a data-driven marketing strategy across all platforms.

According to our study on the skills of a social media manager, these are some essential qualities you need to develop: communication, writing, customer service, data analysis, creativity, and design.

And according to Pascal Hoffman, social media manager at Tec4med, social media management is an excellent method to get your feet wet in the marketing world.

quote of pascal hoffman social media manager at tec4med

2. How to become a social media manager without a degree?

We wanted to see if having a marketing-related degree is required for being a social media manager.

For our "The Life of a Social Media Manager" study, we interviewed 300 marketing experts and 11 social media managers.

We discovered that having a specific degree or a certain amount of experience is not essential but preferred. Because social media management is such a new field, all of the resources you may need are currently available on the internet.

Degree or no degree, experts believe that, as a social media manager, you'll need to set aside time to develop specific skills, learn about different tools and platforms, and keep up with the newest social media trends and changes to thrive in the industry.

Even if you don't have a certified degree in the field, you can start by managing your own personal brand's social media accounts.

First, make your website. Then, set up your social media networks to show off your graphic design, writing, and content creation skills.

Finally, join relevant marketing groups and engage with their content.

Alternative learning methods, such as online courses, webinars, or certificates, are also available for starters.

If you're looking for training materials but don't know where to start, we've compiled a library of educational webinars that will show you what's popular and how to use various social media platforms tools.

3. How to become a social media manager with no experience?

We hear you.

You think our advice is brilliant.

But you have no prior expertise in the industry, no degree, and are baffled about how you can create a portfolio or community from scratch.

Why would anyone be interested in what you have to say? Why would anyone want to be part of your community?

Don't be concerned. We'll let you in on a bit of a secret.

All you have to do is put yourself out there, be curious, open to new possibilities, and consistent.

The process may be slow, but the impact is huge.

If you have no prior experience in the industry and want to stand out from the crowd, here are a few simple things you can do:

3.1. Look for internships or traineeships

Internships and traineeships allow young people to get their foot in the door of a particular industry by providing valuable and relevant work experience. Start by keeping an eye on LinkedIn and Indeed, two of the most well-known job-search portals in the world.

3.2. Subscribe to newsletters to stay updated

Newsletters are a quick and easy way to receive current information tailored to your specific interests. This way, you'll never miss important platform news, and you'll have access to more social media-related sources.

📌 Here are three newsletters to start your day with:

3.3. Be active on all relevant platforms

The more content you create or share, the more chances you have to get discovered.

If you're unsure what kind of material to post, start by making a social media content calendar for a fictional brand or organization you admire. Alternatively, you can share your favorite social media campaigns and explain why you like them or what you would change.

Rina A. Rasolofoniaina, senior social media manager at ONE Championship, confirms that following trends and strategizing are significant, but nothing beats the grind of daily using the platforms.

quote of rina rasolofoniaina social media manager at one championship

3.4. Connect with more experienced marketers

Follow social media professionals who have established an online community already and interact with their content.

This can boost your online exposure and lead to new career opportunities.

📌 Here are three social media experts you need to engage with right now:

3.5. Listen to industry-related podcasts

A social media manager never stops learning. And, if you don't fancy the idea of searching for information all the time, you can let the news come to you.

Podcasts are an excellent approach to passively learning new information. You can fill up the extra time and turn it into more active and productive learning.

📌 Here are three podcasts to listen to when on the move:

If you still feel like you need help getting a handle on the social media manager role, you might find Socialinsider's Social Media Insights Hub and SocialMediaPro's training resources helpful.

4. 10 skills social media managers must have

As our new report regarding the life of a social media manager has proven, there isn't one specific path to follow to become a digital marketer.

Successful social media managers can come from various backgrounds because there are a lot of skills used in this role.

Here's a list of the top 10 skills needed for social media marketing:

1. Communication skills

Social media is a communication channel at its core, so being a good communicator is a non-negotiable skill for social media managers.

Brands' motive for having a social media presence comes from the need to spread their messages to their audience and form valuable relationships with their communities.

A skilled social media manager needs to understand the brand's values and how to communicate those in such ways that they resonate with their followers.

On top of maintaining constant communication with the audiences, social media managers work with different people from various departments (product, graphic design, marketing, sales, etc.), so they must know how to share feedback, ideas, and take criticism.

Social media specialists are usually the company's image, so having good public speaking skills will help them get their message across clearly and engagingly.

And by being a people person and having excellent communication skills, making connections with other people from the industry will only come naturally.

Let's not forget that social media's bottom line is being inherently social.

2. Writing skills

While being a great communicator is essential, it all comes down to the written words at the end of the day.

Writing a good copy is crucial for a social media manager's job, from filling the company's profile information to coming up with catchy social media captions.

And because every social media platform requires different writing styles, social media specialists must be flexible and open to variety - on LinkedIn, the message should be more professional, while on Twitter, it needs to be newsy.

Driving engagement and clicks only with the power of storytelling isn't an easy job to do, especially when you have to convey the message within 280 characters.

To be successful on social media, you have to keep it short and sweet but be captivating and drive conversations.

Coming up with new and engaging ideas is a real struggle for social media managers. This is precisely what one of our respondents from The Life of a Social Media Manager report shared.

Writing also comes with editing skills because poor grammar or typos can damage a brand's online reputation.

3. Creativity

I bet you probably heard this a million times, but I’m going to repeat it for the people in the back: social media is fun, and it’s the perfect place to experiment and let your imagination go wild.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should post everything that comes to your mind, but letting your creativity sparkle is essential if you want to catch your audience’s eyes.

Improvising and allowing your sense of humor to come to the surface can help you develop exciting ideas for social content and design original social media campaigns.

Take a look at Innocent, a company that sells healthy drinks. They get very creative when it comes to presenting their products.

This is an example of how to get creative with Instagram posts.

You have to come up with engaging, entertaining, educational content that works for your audience and stands out on the feed, especially in such a saturated environment as social media.

4. Design

Designing and creating visual content is becoming more and more critical to social media managers.

Even though most of your work will be written, you’ll still need at least some basic design skills if you want to create aesthetic feeds and visually engaging campaigns.

Visuals play a crucial role in social media. People will want to see more video content in the future, as our report on the Life of a Social Media Manager has demonstrated.

Beyond videos, which are sure to be on the rise, your design skills might come in handy if you need to create a complementary graph or a fun meme to accompany your message.

5. Data analysis

A skillful social media manager is creative and analytical at the same. It’s like a left and right brain kind of way of thinking.

Their job is to look at social media metrics, measure social performance across channels, and report these findings constantly.

But their role doesn’t stop here. They need to understand the social media data in such depth that they can draw conclusions and improve the content that doesn’t perform well.

With social media platforms providing a staggering amount of data, it’s important to know how to navigate lots of data and concentrate on meaningful metrics.

This is Socialinsider's dashboard that can help every social media manager.

Socialinsider is a social media analytics, reporting, and competitors’ analysis tool that can become every social media best friend.


Because it helps you to spot trends and extract insights without worrying about the tiring task of manually creating reports.

You can track your multi-channel performance in a single place and see how your clients perform compared to their competitors.

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6. Customer care

Customer care is a broad term that involves customer service, people skills, and community management.

Social media is a place where customers often come to give their feedback or express their complaints.

As a social media manager representing your brand online, you have to learn how to listen to your audience, be proactive about what they say, and try to provide solutions if they have problems.

Taking your audience’s feedback can prove highly beneficial to your business, so try to identify why a customer is upset. By resolving their problem, they’ll become closer to your company.

7. Social media expertise

This may be an obvious must-have skill for social media managers, but it’s still worth mentioning since it encompasses several things.

Savvy social media managers need to love social media and be genuinely interested in the latest trends.

Memes, trends, challenges - social media grew on pop culture and current events.

Social media pros should be up-to-date with all that is happening in the world; both for knowing how to adapt those trends to the brand they represent, but also for knowing when to pause their social media presence in case of a crisis or a major world event.

Having a curious nature will help every social media specialist to develop and nurture this skill.

8. Behavioral psychology

Social media revolves around the consumer. All social media efforts of a brand are directed towards its audience.

I mentioned earlier how important it is for a social media manager to have an analytical mind to detect which posts are working and which should be improved.

On the other hand, behavioral psychology compliments digital marketers’ analytical skills by helping them understand why consumers prefer a certain type of content.

Understanding the audience will answer many questions - such as, Why do people engage with some posts more than others? Why do people share certain content?

If you don’t tailor the content you post on social channels to your audience’s needs, it won’t perform well.

Of course, this is a skill that comes with a lot of research and practice, but reading some basic marketing psychology concepts will sure help.

9. Organizational skills

I bet you’ve probably heard this before: social media never sleeps.

The internet is full of memes with social media managers working 24/24 from their weekends or holidays.

While this is all fun and games, it also speaks the truth.

Social media is a busy place that is constantly changing and evolving, so social media managers need to be very organized and structured to keep pace with this fast-moving industry.

As a social media specialist, you have to manage social media calendars, post daily on channels, and ensure all assets are delivered on time and approved by all parties.

So having top-notch organizational skills are indispensable for someone who works in such a dynamic environment.

10. Adaptability

Last but not least, social media managers must be adaptable if things don’t go as expected.

From trends that appear overnight to changes in algorithms and new platforms emerging, social media managers need to be quick, test, and constantly observe and adapt their strategy.

The social media landscape moves so quickly, so being adaptable is necessary for social media managers.

You may have the structure put in place today, and tomorrow one social media platform may be working entirely differently, so you need to adapt fast and develop a new plan.

You must have the flexibility to try out new things. A/B testing will help you quickly determine which copy or image performs best for your company and which aren’t.

Final thoughts

As a social media professional, keep in mind that it starts with you.

You'll need to promote yourself as a specialist before advertising to others.

To do so, you'll need to learn about blogging, email marketing, SEO, and graphic design and make profiles on all major social media platforms.

Then, to generate a sense of trust among your community and potential clients, you'll need to build a solid social media presence around your brand.

Anda Radulescu

Anda Radulescu

I am exploring with headlines that cut through the noise & content that naturally flows as you scroll. Contact me at [email protected]

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