Whether you’re managing a brand’s social media in-house or as part of a social media management agency with multiple clients, you’ll need clear directions and processes. Which is precisely what this article will provide. Think of this piece as your social media management “pilot book,” the trusty guide that will help you navigate the (often) treacherous waters of social media marketing.
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of social media management, the pillars of a social media strategy, and a few tool recommendations for managing social media. Let’s dive in.
What is social media management?
Social media management involves creating and publishing social media content, monitoring engagement, nurturing user interactions, and measuring performance on multiple social media platforms.
Think of social media management as the glue that holds all your social media efforts together. It’s the ongoing process that provides clarity to your social media strategy, direction and context to your content, and valuable audience insights for future scaling initiatives.
What does a social media manager do?
A social media manager executes, monitors, and measures the social media efforts on one or multiple platforms.
SMMs manage social media for brands, products, corporations, small businesses, and even individuals in some cases. As a social media manager, you manage an organization’s social media and:
- devise a marketing strategy
- supervise content production
- gather, analyze, and contextualize data
In some organizations, a social media manager is also responsible for creating viral content and coordinating messaging with PR & Communications.
The role comes with a lot of responsibility and requires excellent time management skills. Social media management is exciting and fast-paced but not without challenges.
What does social media management cost?
If you’re researching social media management services as a brand or business, expect to pay between $50 and $190 per hour.
This range assumes the following factors:
- Social media management company or service provider is based in New York.
- Social media managers involved in the project are all seniors.
- Full-time (160 hours/month, Monday to Friday).
- Social media management agency provides the following services: strategy, content creation, design, community management, and reporting/analysis.
If you are a social media manager trying to figure out how to price their services fairly, try out our pricing calculator to get a range:
Why is social media management important?
Social media management offers quantifiable benefits:
1. Boosting lead generation
It’s well-established at this point that social media is a great lead-generation tool.
And, of course, successful lead-generation initiatives go hand in hand with good social media management. Specifically:
- Optimizing social media accounts. Profiles should be visually and thematically consistent across platforms.
- Creating lead magnets. Everything from gated content, trial offers, and templates to resources valuable to your target audience.
- Partnering with influencers. We wrote a helpful piece on how to get started with influencer marketing, so check it out for more details.
- Starting referral campaigns.
As you can see, all the initiatives mentioned above require careful planning and coordination, which are the two tenets of social media management.
2. Raising brand awareness
Brand awareness campaigns are complex, multi-stage initiatives often involving cross-departmental collaboration, with social media management at the center.
Fortunately, on a strategic level, brand awareness and lead generation initiatives require the same steps, which often overlap. Partnering with influencers, creating lead-gathering-friendly content, and optimizing social media accounts are just some things you can do in this sense.
3. Increasing social media presence
This is not a direct advantage but rather a natural consequence of keeping everything neat and tidy. Keeping everything tidy and organized => posting more frequently => increased social media presence.
Keep in mind that posting frequently doesn’t unlock some hidden algorithmic backdoor. I meant “presence” in the most literal sense of the word. By posting consistently, you’re likelier to appear in your audience’s social media feeds with regularity, leading to more shares/interactions, thus increasing the chances of a snowball effect.
4. Saving time
With the appropriate social media management tools, businesses can easily schedule and automate their content posting, and save time and effort.
As a one-person team managing a charity, Planable frees me up to complete other tasks by making our social media management fast and efficient.
Sophie C., verified G2 review
The 7 pillars of social media management
For your social media management efforts to be successful, you need to plan ahead of time and perfect your execution systems.
Start by considering the following pillars of social media management:
- social media strategy
- social media audit
- social media channels
- social media content creation
- social media calendar
- social media campaign
- social media campaigns
1. Social media strategy
A social media strategy is a plan that pinpoints the steps required to reach social media marketing targets. It’s a vital component of your social media planning process. It includes social media channels to target, social media tactics, team assignments and roles, and relevant metrics.
Social media managers use this action plan to guide their social media marketing strategy and ensure that everyone is in-sync and that business goals are met. Some of these goals can be driving more traffic to your website, boosting brand awareness, and increasing customer retention. Check our piece on social media strategy linked above for more details.
Social media strategies differ in scope and size from company to company, all successful social media strategies will help you:
- increase brand awareness
- reach new audiences
- nurture customer loyalty
- provide proactive customer support
- attract inquiries
- convert leads into sales
2. Social media audit
A social media audit is the process of identifying and reviewing key social media metrics. Companies perform social media audits to assess their overall social media strategy and adjust where necessary to meet business goals.
With social media growing and evolving with each passing day in terms of raw numbers and audience behaviors, social media audits are essential for growth and staying relevant.
Think of a social media audit as an industry-equivalent “health check” that ensures you’re targeting the right audience with the right content and that you’re tracking relevant metrics.
Here are the metrics you should include in your audit:
- Growth: anything from the number of followers to subscribers. If you’re managing social media for multiple platforms, it’s a good idea to corroborate those numbers and see if there’s a pattern between them.
- Engagement: likes, shares, and comments.
- Reach: the number of users who have seen your post.
- Views: for videos.
- Demographics: requires audience research.
Here is a short step-by-step guide to conducting a basic social media audit:
- Collect data from social media users. Locate handles and profiles and centralize this data.
- Scan for patterns. What are they interested in? What’s their behavior? What content engages them the most?
- Compare channels. Think of it in big-picture terms and look at your overall strategy. What platforms are performing the best and warrant a budget and manpower increase?
- Reevaluate your goals. If you’re doing a social media audit, chances are you’re looking to make some adjustments, so you may reevaluate your goals and assess their long and short-term feasibility.
3. Social media channels
The social media landscape is larger than ever, so choosing the right social media platforms to target can be daunting. Remember that no two businesses are alike, so the social media channel you focus on should reflect this.
Mainly because each social media platform has particular characteristics and quirks. A Twitter regular will not engage with the same kind of content that piques the interest of a LinkedIn user. The same goes for Facebook and Instagram, with their differing internal “cultures” (despite being owned by the same company). The right platform varies according to business, too.
When researching potential channels to include in your strategy, consider the following:
- Target audience. Who are you targeting, and what platforms do they use? Not all audiences use the same social media networks.
- Competition research. Which channels have competitors been using? How did they optimize their social media profiles?
- Budget. How much budget will you be able to allocate towards social media? Do some platforms offer better ROI for the price than others?
- Content types. What kind of content does each platform favor? Not every platform is suitable for all types of content.
- Analytics. Measuring is caring… or so they say. Does the platform offer decent analytics that can help measure performance?
Only when you understand the strengths and limitations of each platform can you harness their full potential, social media management-wise.
On that note, let’s zoom in on specific social media platforms and pinpoint their unique characteristics.
Ideal for: B2C, eCommerce, some B2Bs
Facebook is still very much alive and active, just not in the same form it was 5-10 years ago. And with 2.85 billion monthly active users, chances are some of your target audience will be there.
While Facebook has never been the friendliest of places to B2B marketers, it’s still a viable option for B2C businesses to gain visibility — mainly through ads.
Scheduling Facebook posts in advance can help you save time, ensure your content is published when your audience is most engaged, and help you post consistently.
Ideal for: B2B, B2C
Social media platforms have always strived to generate organic and natural user interaction. However, no platform has managed to create an “internet’s watercooler” feeling and culture more masterfully than Twitter.
Despite the avalanche of social media platforms launched since its 2006 inception and never turning profitable, Twitter has maintained its relevance in internet discourse.
Thanks to its central spot in internet culture, Twitter is the best place to stir up buzz around products and services naturally by joining and actively contributing to conversations.
The focus should be on creating valuable content that draws people organically.
Zero-click content, such as Twitter threads, is the way to go if you have the right content to support it. Anything from graphs to bite-sized chunks extracted from blog posts works as long as you don’t go in with a “business-first” mindset.
Scheduling tweets ahead of time ensures your content is timely and relevant, even if you cannot be on Twitter 24/7.
Ideal for: B2B
Professionally oriented, LinkedIn is the best platform to promote products from the B2B sphere. As a social media manager, it’s the most natural place to create and distribute content targeted toward decision-makers because it’s where they usually gather.
However, recent trends, such as the advent of LinkedIn influencers and the wider variety of “informal” content, show that the tides are shifting. LinkedIn’s reputation as the premiere platform for sales-oriented and employer branding content may no longer be valid.
And as the line between professional and generalist content is muddying by the day, social media managers need to generate content that strikes that very specific balance.
So, if your question is, “should I go to LinkedIn even if I don’t manage social media for a B2B?” the answer is a resounding “Yes.” Find out more about scheduling LinkedIn posts with Planable.
Ideal for: B2B, B2C
With 2.1 billion monthly active users, YouTube is worth pursuing simply because it’s one of the best ways to build a strong foothold and show the human face of a brand.
Moreover, if you run social media management for a B2B SaaS, YouTube videos can be great companion pieces to mainline content, regardless of their funnel positioning. The first pieces of content that come to mind are generalistic product videos, tutorials, demos, and webinars optimized to showcase your product from all angles.
Of course, there’s the not-insignificant caveat that YouTube videos can be time and money-sinks. Then there’s the risk of them not catching on. But YouTube videos can provide value even internally, particularly to sales, in the same way a product-comparison page can.
Social media is not a one-man show, and neither is YouTube. Schedule videos for YouTube in Planable’s workspace and holler at your team to leave feedback.
Ideal for: B2C, eCommerce
With over 200 million business profiles registered on Instagram as of 2021, it’s clear that Instagram is now officially part of nearly every business’s marketing tools roster. And there’s a good reason why Instagram caught on so well, especially with the hospitality and e-commerce industries.
For one, it’s highly visual. With Instagram’s interface and native editing tools, it’s easy to make your product pictures pop.
Secondly, Instagram low-key doubles as a search engine, just like TikTok. Many people today would instead type “best donut shop in x city” in Instagram’s search bar (because they’re, like, right there anyways) than do the same thing on Google.
Thirdly, the sheer number of avenues you can pursue content-wise on Instagram as a social media manager means lots of space to experiment. Whether you’re creating Stories, Reels, or Grids, Instagram is ideal for getting eyeballs on a business. You can schedule your Instagram posts with Planable.
Ideal for: B2B, B2C
TikTok is long past its “that thing social media marketers experiment with” phase. Nowadays, it’s up there with the likes of Instagram and Twitter. Currently, it’s still the platform where one has the highest chance to become viral.
And the bubble, if there is such a thing — I hope this won’t age terribly — is unlikely to burst any time soon. TikTok has truly changed the face of social media marketing.
Out of all social media platforms, TikTok has the youngest demographic, the highest rates of organic engagement, and it’s lush with varied content. On top of that, ads are so seamless in terms of UI and content you barely register them as such. Naturally, businesses from all industries have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon with great results.
However, with the platform still relatively new, the TikTok social media management handbook is still being written. As a social media manager, it’s up to you to find ways to exploit this exciting new platform to your client’s or company’s advantage.
Promoting user-generated content. Finding new and capitalizing on established trending audio. Building relationships with influencers. And, most importantly, not being — and I try to use this word sparingly. Start TikToking by scheduling TikToks with Planable’s TikTok integration.
Google Business Profile (Google My Business)
Though niche, as a social media manager, you’ll also have to manage social media content for this platform at some point.
Google Business Profile is a must-have for any business that wants to rank on Google and be visible in local searches. That’s because Google Business Profile is, in effect, an SEO-rich landing page with all the essential business information: hours of operation, phone number, address, website URL and business-related content.
Not only can you create a profile page, but you can also post reviews and track them. Plus, Google Business Profile allows you to respond to customers’ queries directly on the platform, making customer service more efficient.
Google Business Profile offers great opportunities for businesses to get discovered by prospective customers and foster relationships with existing ones. And the easiest way to do that is to schedule Google My Business posts with Planable.
4. Social media content creation
The next pillar of social media management is social media content creation, aka the most satisfying and frustrating aspect of social media content management. You know exactly why — because coming up with new content ideas is so hard.
Now, for simplicity’s sake, we’ll focus on two avenues:
Original content is anything you create from the ground up, using your resources and creative juice — be it visuals, copy, or unique concepts. This type of content should reflect your brand’s identity and help move your client’s business goals forward.
Content curation is the process of collecting existing content and publishing it. This type of content will help round out the overall story you’re telling with original content and organically build relationships with other creators.
A good content curation strategy can be a massive time-saver for social media managers, as it relieves some of the pressure of constantly coming up with fresh content ideas.
Here’s how to get started with content curation:
- Set realistic goals. This means setting precise goals for what you want to achieve by curating content, whether gaining new followers and/or leads, boosting engagement, or increasing authority.
- Pinpoint your audience. How else would you post only relevant content without knowing who you’re creating it for in the first place?
- Find content sources. Admittedly, this can be as daunting a task as creating fresh content in the first place. Truth is, not all content is worth curating, so you have to put yourself in the audience’s shoes and figure out what content they would jive with and where it should come from. Podcasts, industry newsletters, niche blogs, subreddits, anything goes.
- Decide on a frequency. You’ll need to settle on a ratio (e.g., 2 curated posts for every 5 original social media posts) and use a content calendar to schedule social media posts.
While content curation can do wonders for your workflow, don’t fall into the trap of prioritizing it over creating original content. Only share user-generated content with providing value to your audience in mind.
5. Social media calendar
A social media calendar is a tool that helps marketers get an overview of their content by date and campaign.
It is one of the best ways to stay organized and on top of your campaign’s pacing.
It also helps you manage deadlines for upcoming social media posts and track brand-relevant events.
With a social media calendar, you can set aside time for creating original and relevant content — essential to building meaningful relationships with your audience.
More granularly, a social media calendar will help improve the following aspects of your workflow:
- Ensures posting consistency by eliminating the tedious parts of social media publishing processes. Having to publish social media posts for each platform individually is a huge time sink that’s effectively eliminated with a social media content calendar.
- Helps you save time by providing social media scheduling functionalities. Schedule posts once and go on with your day.
- Makes spotting editorial gaps and low-performing content more manageable by providing historical context for your content campaigns. The more accurate the overview, the less time you’ll spend fixing past mistakes.
- Nurtures a culture of accountability and transparency in your team. It’s harder to miss deadlines when everything is in one place for everyone to see.
Some essential things that a social media calendar should include are:
- post copy
- assets (visuals, gifs, videos)
- post format (story, reel, youtube shorts)
- social media platforms
6. Social media campaigns
In social media management, a campaign is a planned, long-term marketing effort that uses one or more social channels to support or further a company’s business objectives.
A campaign’s greater emphasis on targeting and measurability sets it apart from regular social media initiatives, which are smaller in scope.
While social campaigns differ on a case-by-case basis, the most successful social media campaigns are those that are creative and make use of different channels to reach their target audience.
Social media ads
Social media advertising is a powerful way for businesses to reach their ideal customers. Your ads will appear on various social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.
Social media ads are targeted and cost-effective, as you can target your ideal audience with laser precision. Ads may also be tailored to different stages of the buyer’s journey, such as awareness, consideration, and conversion.
Collaborations & partnerships
Businesses often partner with other brands to increase their reach and amplify their message.
Collaborations and partnerships are mutually beneficial for all parties, as each brand brings something unique to the table. Collaboration does not have to be limited to a specific set of platforms either; it can span multiple social media channels or include physical activations.
Working with influencers
Influencer marketing involves creating relationships with individuals who have a sizable and engaged following on social media. Influencers can help amplify a campaign’s reach and create more engagement around it, thus increasing social presence.
Influencer marketing can be a potent tool for brands and their campaigns. But when done wrong, it can backfire — so make sure you research the influencer you’re considering working with before committing.
7. Social media performance
Performance in social media management is an umbrella term that covers how your social media efforts have performed. It’s expressed in quantifiable metrics such as “engagement,” “reach,” “response rate and time,” and “conversion rates.”
Performance is a vital component of social media marketing as it provides context through raw numbers. Social media managers can corroborate these metrics with empirical insights to set future directions.
Whether you’re a fresh or seasoned social media manager, working for a client or in-house, social media performance can feel intimidating. The name by itself gives off a “day of judgment” type of vibe.
Then there’s gathering all the data and metrics in one place and translating them into lay language without omitting nuance and complexity.
I am talking, of course, about creating a social media report. However, a social media report doesn’t have to be a “post-campaign” sort of endeavor that you present to teams/clients and then file under “never touching it again.” It can also be a master document that keeps you on track and responsible.
Here’s what you need to know to put together a foolproof social media report:
Audience, audience, audience
Whether the audience is your client, your boss, your team, or other stakeholders, the report’s talking points should account for their skill level and knowledge. This means not bloating your report with basic concepts if the audience is composed of experts or stuffing it with jargon if it’s for clients or industry outsiders.
Set and define goals & focus on key metrics
Keep your report firmly in relevant KPIs and metrics territory.
Here are a few metrics that you could include in your social media report:
- post engagement
- clickthrough rate (CTR)
- conversion rates
- reach per post/campaign
- competitor metrics for similar initiatives
Again, the audience is a huge factor in terms of what information to present. If your goal is to generate leads, then salespeople will definitely be interested in that. If the report’s purpose is to provide insights into a social media campaign sprawling across multiple platforms and months, then include relevant metrics related to each platform and corroborate the data.
Reporting timeframes are also important because they can indirectly dictate the campaign’s direction and resource allocation. The most common reporting timeframes are:
Phew! That was quite the mouthful, wasn’t it? Don’t go just yet.
The best social media management tools
As social media has evolved as a profession, social media tools have become a fixture of social media management. Nowadays, creating, approving, and publishing content on time is virtually impossible without using one.
So let’s tie a bow on this article by going through a few social media management tools that will help you take your game to the next level.
The first item on our social media management tools list is Planable, a social media collaboration platform. Thanks to its robust scheduling, approval, and collaboration functionalities, Planable has become the go-to solution for marketing teams worldwide.
What distinguishes Planable from other solutions is that it’s designed to facilitate nearly all aspects of social media management, particularly approval and collaboration.
Planable is an excellent social media management software that has greatly improved my team’s workflow and productivity. The platform is easy to use and has a clean, intuitive interface that makes it simple to schedule and publish content to multiple social media channels.
Michael S., verified G2 review
Here’s a brief list of reasons why Planable may be the ideal social media management solution for you:
- Clean, intuitive UI made to resemble the feel and flow of social media.
- Sleek calendar that offers an overview of your campaigns and allows you to schedule social media posts with ease.
- Comprehensive multi-level approval system for managing complex approval workflows.
- Multiple ways to view content: List, Grid, Feed, and Calendar.
- Easy to use in-app image editing tools.
- One-click, cross-platform content syncing.
- Straightforward collaboration functionalities — leave comments and replies next to the post requiring feedback.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s how Planable makes social media management not only easy but fun:
Zoho Social is a social media monitoring, management, and analytics tool. With Zoho Social, you can monitor, engage with, measure, and report on your audiences’ performance across most existing social media platforms in one place. Other features Zoho offers are competitive analysis and real-time updates, which help you keep track of the latest social trends.
Additionally, you can customize social media reports and track campaigns. As far as social media management tools are concerned, Zoho Social is a good choice for social media managers who need real-time performance analysis without compromising on quality and accuracy.
Sprout Social is another excellent social media management software that allows you to monitor, manage, and measure content across platforms. Like Zoho, Sprout sports powerful monitoring functionalities for managers needing to track real-time content performance.
Sprout Social also offers a wide range of analytics functionalities and reporting tools that allow you to keep track of your progress over the long term. Additionally, it supports the creation of custom dashboards with key performance metrics so that you can quickly assess where changes should be made.
Next up on our list of social media management tools is Hootsuite, a social media listening and management solution and one of the oldest in the business. It allows social media managers to manage multiple accounts, track their performance and measure insights.
Moreover, Hootsuite offers competitive analysis features to monitor and compare your campaigns with competitors regarding reach, engagement and followers. It also allows social media users to schedule posts in advance and integrate with other popular tools such as Slack and Salesforce.
CoSchedule is another option you should consider if you’re on the lookout for a social media management tool. Coschedule offers an impressive array of analytics capabilities that allow you to track progress over the long haul.
With its Google Analytics integration, it takes things up a notch for even more detailed insights. Additionally, users can build custom reports based on specific KPIs and easily export them in various formats for easy sharing with stakeholders.
Agorapulse has quickly established itself as a go-to solution for social media marketers looking for reliable social media management tools. Their platform encompasses nearly every essential social media marketing activity, from content creation and keyword tracking to community engagement and performance analysis.
Agorapulse offers a comprehensive suite of metrics to help you track your campaign performance over time. You can also monitor the success of specific posts, view audience engagement patterns, and compare performance across different platforms.
And that’s a wrap for today. Social media management is essential today, as it’s basically the only way to ensure your social media efforts are both on track and trackable. Follow our tips, consider the social media management tools we recommended, and you’ll have an easier time making sense of it. Good luck out there!