8 tips for writing a clear, effective social media manager job description

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8 tips for writing a clear, effective social media manager job description

The idea that social media is “something the intern can do” is about as outdated as saying the internet is all cat videos.

And yet, you don’t have to scroll too far through #MarketingTwitter before you find social media managers venting about feeling overworked and undervalued.

It took me three hours to create a 7-min long video on Canva! Social media management and digital marketing is not a one-person job!

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) January 12, 2022

Even Burger King had something to say about it.

*works in social, always working*

— Burger King (@BurgerKing) December 20, 2021

It’s no question that social media is crucial for businesses today. In fact, 89% of business executives or leaders think social media is essential to success.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely in that 89%. And you know you need a qualified person behind the scenes and screens of your channels.

Finding a great candidate starts with a great job description. Follow these 8 tips for writing a clear, effective social media manager job description, then to put what you learn into practice.

The power of strong social media manager job descriptions

When consumers follow a brand on social, 91% go on to visit that brand’s website or app, and 90% buy from them, according to the Sprout Social Index™. So it’s important that the person representing the voice of your brand online—your social media manager—is stellar.

A clear job description:

Helps you find qualified people

Social media is a highly visible space, and can be highly volatile. You need someone capable of both building community and managing escalation or crisis communication when it matters most. Knowing the right keywords to use in your job description can also make you more discoverable to people searching for open roles.

Social media professionals understand the following about your company:

• Marketing
• Comms (especially crisis)
• Branding
• Industry trends
• Customer service
• Creative (graphics, imagery, photos, video)
• How to create and nurture brand advocates

The future CMO/CCOs

— Matthew Kobach (@mkobach) August 5, 2019

Breaks bias in your wording

From word choice to layout, implicit bias can sneak into job descriptions in many ways. Mindful writing can increase inclusive language and decrease the possibility that you’re discouraging marginalized groups from applying.

Allows you to prioritize what you want out of this role

Writing job descriptions gives you a chance to organize your expectations for the role too. What defines success? What projects do you want this person to own? How do they fit in among the larger team, and what do you want them to do?

Shows candidates that you value social media

Too often, social media professionals feel overworked and underpaid, and burnout is rampant in the industry.

Should we start calling out companies posting these unrealistic social media manager job descriptions!? It really has gotten out of hand.

— Codi (@Codishaa) March 22, 2021

A job description that sets clear expectations and highlights impact shows candidates that you value the importance of their work, understand the job and want to set them up for success.

Tips for writing a clear social media manager job description

1. Have a clear understanding of the role

The duties of a social media manager go beyond running social media channels. Behind every post there’s strategic work, data analysis, editing, community management and more.

Not understanding what this role entails can result in a job description being too vague or looking more like a social media director job description—not a manager’s.

Why am I seeing brands post social media manager roles with social media director level responsibilities? 🤔

— Anthony Yepez (@AnthonyYepez) January 5, 2022

“The biggest thing that makes me scratch my head is how a social media manager is supposed to come in and develop a strategy for a brand across social media, manage a team and still be responsible for the daily management of each social channel,” says Anthony Yepez, Social Media Director at Bodybuilding.com. “To me, that is two separate roles!”

To avoid this, familiarize yourself with what skills social media managers should have and what they do:

  • Experience with your priority social channels
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Creativity
  • Good time management skills
  • Digital marketing
  • Customer care
  • Curiosity (do they stay on top of trends?)
  • Data analysis
  • Content creation (video, photography, basic graphic design)

Similarly, know what experience level you’re looking for and if it lines up with a manager-level role.

Seeking someone with one to two years of experience? You might be looking for a specialist, coordinator or intern.

Three to five years of experience? You’re in manager or strategist territory.

Seven to eight? You might be looking for a senior-level position, or a manager you can help grow.

Pro tip: The responsibilities and skills needed for this role can vary depending on team size, company size, industry and more. Talk to social media managers in your industry to build an idea of what this role will look like, and have your marketing team do an internal review of the job description.

2. Have realistic expectations for one person

It’s true that social media managers wear many hats at once.

But that doesn’t mean they should be treated as a hat rack.

“Social media” is sometimes used as a catch-all term for multiple roles in one.

One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from social media professionals is being overworked under leaders who don’t understand how demanding the job is. This can lead to over-packing a job description and burnt out staff.

If you’re hiring a solo social media manager, write down everything you want this person to do. Then, look at that list. “If you’re realizing it’s too much work for one person, can you hire more than one person?” says Rachael Samuels, Senior Social Media Manager at Sprout.

3. Create a description that focuses on value, impact and growth

Most job descriptions, regardless of industry, often feature these three elements:

  • Company overview
  • Responsibilities/Duties
  • Qualifications/Skills

To nail each section:

Be specific

Some of the most looked-at parts of a job description are the day-to-day details. A new hire could get overwhelmed if the job is more demanding than the posting made it out to be.

See where you can include details and, as Samuels puts it, “Don’t hide expectations in buzzwords.”

For example, if you say, “You will run our employee advocacy program” without mentioning that the program has 8,000 participants, you’re not clearly communicating the depth of the project.

SMM job descriptions are so broad and, dare I say, wild cause higher-ups really don’t know what they want to accomplish by being on social media.

— Vuh-suun-dher-ah (She/Her) (@ThisDhara) October 26, 2021

To outline more specific responsibilities, ask yourself:

  • What do I want them to accomplish with our social channels?
  • If they’re managing a team, how many people are they overseeing?
  • Will they be creating graphics and images, or requesting them from others?
  • If you say “open to working nights and weekends,” does this include support? Is this within business hours?
  • What teams will they work closely with?
  • Are there emerging social media channels, like TikTok, we want them to grow?
  • Will this person monitor all questions and comments on social?

Focus on impact and value, not just tasks

“One common mistake I see in social media job descriptions is a list of tasks vs. the value of the role,” says Samuels.

Social media managers often feel undervalued. Show you’re different by illustrating the value this person will bring and the impact they’ll make.

This healthcare business mentioned that their new hire will grow their young social channels.

Using language like “your impact” or “Where we need your help” like Allbirds has in this social media manager description lays this out explicitly.

Here at Sprout, our job descriptions include a timeline of how they will grow and the impact they’ll make through their first year, clearly illustrating expectations, what success looks like and responsibilities.

Avoid fluffy titles

Social Media Ninja.

Content Guru.

Community Wizard.

The social media world is full of fluffy titles that can downplay the work your new hire will do. Being called a “wizard” removes the hard work you do from the conversation, replacing it instead with “magic.”

Social media managers are often told, “work your magic!”

It’s not magic.

It’s marketing, communications strategy, and subject matter knowledge.

— Jenny Li Fowler, 이경실 (@TheJennyLi) August 2, 2020

4. Include growth opportunities

If you want to attract great talent, you should also try to keep great talent.

Considering that 41% of workers feel like they don’t have a clear path for advancement, offering development resources is a great place to start.

This social media job description from Grammarly prioritizes how they plan on growing their new team members, company culture and benefits.

While asking yourself how this person can help your channels grow, don’t forget to also ask: How can I help this person grow?

5. Identify the resources you have to support this role

Being a social media team of one can be overwhelming. How can you provide support?

If you say, “must be available to work nights and weekends,” can you identify other team members who can help break up the work?

If you want your new hire to build out Reels and TikTok content, can you provide support for visual production with a freelance budget?

Can you expedite content publishing and reporting with a social media management tool?

A tool like Sprout makes publishing posts and finding optimal posting times easy, and even aids content discovery with an RSS feed.

A screenshot of the weekly calendar view in Sprout Social's publishing tool.

Think of ways you can provide support to this role and outline what those resources look like in your job description.

6. Include the serious elements of the job, as well as the fun

When a brand goes viral for the wrong reasons or gets slammed with online hate, it’s not the company on digital crisis control duty—it’s the social media manager.

Treading through negative comments and trolls can be dangerous territory. You want someone who can navigate turbulent comment sections, proactively identify negative posts your brand is tagged in and know when and how to respond…and when not to.

Add the following to social media manager job descriptions ALWAYS:

✔️ crisis communicator
✔️ community advocate
✔️ solution supporter
✔️ miracle worker (only a little JK here)

H/t to all those out there every day championing this gig for their orgs and for the communities. pic.twitter.com/bhZ7EQrPxB

— Katie Nelson (@katienelson210) September 16, 2020

Focusing only on the creative and fun elements of the role in your job description can set you and your new hire up for failure if they’re not prepared or qualified to handle crisis communication.

7. Show your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion

Data shows that 42% of all workers would reject a job offer if the company was not diverse or didn’t have goals for improving diversity.

If DEI is a core value for your company, make that commitment clear in your job descriptions.

If you talk the talk, be transparent about how you’re walking the walk and the actions you’re taking to be more inclusive. At Sprout, we include a report highlighting our DEI efforts so far, and beyond.

screenshot of the equal opportunity employer section of sprout's job descriptions.

Don’t let perfection scare you away. You don’t have to be perfect to show that you are actively evolving.

8. Break your bias

Implicit bias in your wording can inadvertently deter diverse candidates. Here are a few areas to be mindful of while you write.

Consider capping your qualifications

Women often feel they need to meet 100% of qualifications to act on a job description, while men typically apply after meeting 60%. And requiring a four-year degree can limit the amount of diverse applicants or applicants from non-traditional career paths.

To avoid discouraging applicants who feel they need to meet every bulleted requirement, start with the core skills of the job:

  • Writing skills
  • Social media experience
  • Customer service and some crisis communication skills
  • Understanding of analytics
  • Organizational skills

Beyond these, think about presenting additional skill sets as “preferred” or as those you can help develop and grow.

Avoid gendered or age-limiting language

One study shows that women were less likely to feel like they belonged in a job position with masculine-coded words—think ninja, aggressive, competitive.

Another study argues that companies advertise social media jobs with traits typically associated with women—e.g., flexible, emotional management and sociable—which has contributed to social media roles becoming increasingly feminized and reinforced a gender gap in the tech world.

Be mindful of your word choice—review your writing to identify if your language could deter certain age groups. And use the Gender Decoder tool to find gendered words in your job description.

Write a social media manager job description and find someone amazing

First impressions matter.

Your job description is one of the first chances you have to impress candidates as much as you hope they impress you.

You have the right tools to create a job description that shows your candidate who you are, what to expect and how you can help them grow.

Time to get writing. and use these tips to find amazing candidates, and to help them find you.

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