Skills Social Media

Social Media Management: A Next Generation Freelance Skill

Social Media Management
David Wanjohi
Written by David Wanjohi

Freelance social media management is a vast industry. I will share with you what this role entails, and, by the end of this article, you will have a comprehensive understanding of what a freelance social media manager does.

Freelance social media managers plan, create and publish business content on major social platforms. Social media managers work to build online communities, grow follower and subscriber counts, engage with social audiences, develop meaningful brand relationships, and ultimately, turn fans into lifelong customers.

Freelance social media management can be a fulfilling career path. You get to be the voice of the business, engage with interesting people online, and (the fun part) get paid for it. Even better, you can manage a client’s online presence from your home office, on a long train commute, or from anywhere in the world. Keep reading for more about that.

What Does Social Media Management Involve?

By the name, you might think that social media management means posting photos online, liking, and commenting on other people’s posts. That’s not quite it! Social media managers do way more than that.

There are four key things that every social media manager does. You need to nail them across every social outlet, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedin, Youtube, Google+, and TikTok. Here they are:

1. Social Media account setup

As a social media manager, one of your primary roles in this stage is opening accounts on different social platforms. Account set up involves writing account bios, setting passwords, and sharing login information with team members.

If you are taking over an existing account, some of your job tasks include rewriting the company’s bio with current information, updating links, and auditing existing content. Carrying out a page audit is essential to understand how the client operates and what you can do to boost their results. The information gathered from the audit helps you determine what to include in the client’s content strategy.

A social media content strategy helps identify business goals, create content that aligns with a brand, and distribute content on the right platforms.
2. Content Creation

Content creation is the backbone of social media. It is the social media manager’s job to ensure that they share valuable and relevant content to the client’s audience. But what does content mean? Content could be any of the following:

  • Text messages
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Gifs

A social media manager is also tasked with adapting different content to different social platforms.

To successfully create content for clients, social media managers work with a content calendar. A content calendar helps determine the content needs of each client and to plan accordingly. Planning is a huge part of content creation because if you don’t plan appropriately, you will not be able to deliver content on time.

There are two main ways freelance social media managers create content:

1. Finding images and videos.
This mainly involves using stock photos, gifs, and viral content to convey a client’s message. A social media manager needs to look for content that they can use on a client’s page without necessarily designing it.

2. Designing images and videos for the client.
Social media managers are tasked with creating images, videos, infographics, channel art and memes to be used on a client’s page. This requires basic design knowledge and the ability to use free tools like Canva. Sometimes clients already have existing content or have other freelancers who create content for them; therefore, you do not need to create new content.

3. Account management

Account management is a lot more popular and involves activities like posting, liking, and commenting, which more people resonate with. How well a social media manager handles account management, determines if they will be able to meet their goals or not.

Account management is very time consuming, especially when working with large social media accounts. A social media manager may outsource this task to a team member or use an automated tool. The primary account management activities include:

  • Posting content – After creating content, the next stage is sharing on social platforms. Successful posting is always done with the target audience and goal in mind.
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  • Liking and commenting – Engaging on social media through likes and comments is one way that social media managers use to drive account engagement and interactions.
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  • Customer Service – through replying to comments and DMs. Businesses increasingly use social media channels as a customer service channel where clients can make inquiries. This makes the social media manager act as a link between customers and the business by replying to their DMs and comments.
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  • Curating the account – Have you ever gone through an Instagram account and thought, “wow, that account looks good”? That’s because a social media manager is curating the page and thoughtfully posting images and videos that complement the overall design of the account.

Social Media Management

4. Analytics and Reporting

A more technical part of a social media manager’s job is measurement and reporting. The social media manager is tasked with studying account metrics and giving actionable recommendations based on the analytics. Every social media platform has built-in analytics that you can use to determine audience growth, audience engagement, audience demographics, and the best times to post content.

This is a core component because businesses use this information to determine how well they meet their social media goals. The social media manager’s job is to report how well KPIs have been met and give reports on performance, such as customer conversion on social ads and posts.

Native social media platforms aren’t enough to plan, schedule, post content, and give in-depth analytics. So you may need complementary apps. Below is a summary of useful tools for social media managers. You can use the free version (limited features) or a premium version (more features).

Social Media Management Tools

Buffer Fantastic tool when working with a team. Helps in planning and queueing content.
Hootsuite Great for following conversations on social media and keeping an eye on industry trends.
Social Pilot It offers the best in-depth reports and analytics on posts and ad performance.
Loomly Amazing app for scheduling social media content.
Sprout social It gives amazing analytics and provides a feature to engage in all social media platforms from one place.
Canva Excellent design tool for creating social media graphics
Picmonkey Paid tool for creating designs and photo editing.

When managing a handful of client’s accounts, it can be overwhelming to keep track of everything manually, but the apps above can ease your workload.

How Much Does a Freelance Social Media Manager Earn?

Freelance social media managers earn an average of $50,000. More experienced social media managers earn more while less experienced freelancers earn less than the average. Several factors that affect pay Include:

  • The type of clients you work with. Are they small companies or big companies?
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  • Your location. Freelancers living in bigger cities tend to be paid more due to higher living expenses.
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  • Your experience level. More experienced freelancers tend to earn more.
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  • How you sell yourself. Do you undervalue or sell your skills appropriately?

A useful rule of thumb in pricing is that specialists usually earn higher pay than generalists. A social media manager who specializes in a category, for example, e-commerce, fashion, or foods, typically earns two to three times as much as a generalist.

There are different pricing strategies that social media managers use, including hourly pricing, project-based pricing, package pricing, and retainer pricing. These pricing methods largely determine the earning potential of a freelance social media manager. Here is how hourly pricing might break down by experience level:

Beginner $15 – $50 per hour
Intermediate $50 – $100 per hour
Expert $100 +

Who Hires Freelance Social Media Managers?

There is a massive demand for social media managers around the world. Contrary to popular belief, the social media management industry is not oversaturated. If anything, it is understaffed.

With new social platforms on the rise and rapid changes to algorithms, fewer entrepreneurs are willing to keep up with social media. This takes a lot of time, which is better suited for a professional.

Everyone who has an online presence and wants to grow their audience needs a social media manager. This includes entrepreneurs, large corporations, personal brands, government agencies, and more.

Where Do Freelance Social Media Managers Get Work?

There are several ways to land clients as a freelance social media manager. Some of those include:

  • Social media marketing agency: The agency deals with customers and channels the workflow to you. This means that you don’t have to spend time looking for clients. However, when working with an agency, you do not have control over the clients you work with.
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  • In-house or corporate job: Companies with a lot of social media needs and a huge budget often choose to hire in-house social media managers compared to contracting agencies. With a corporate position, you have an assured paycheck, but your employer dictates your working hours.
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  • Freelancing sites: Freelancing sites like Upwork offer a great way to land clients. It is an excellent start for social media managers who want to get a foot in the industry. Working through Upwork is also a great way to build your portfolio.
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  • Social networking: By building your online presence, you stand a chance to have potential customers contact you and offer you contracts. One way to do this is to build your personal social media and share your knowledge and experience. Use Linkedin to connect with people and create valuable content. Once people see the results you help clients earn, it will be easier for them to contact you for business.
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  • Cold outreach: In this method, social media managers send proposals to companies/individuals they would like to work with and pitch them. This is the most laborious client acquisition technique, but it’s also the most rewarding. You set the terms of engagement, and you have a better chance to negotiate higher rates.

What Training Does a Freelance Social Media Manager Need?

There isn’t any required training to be a social media manager. However, there are few colleges and universities that offer degrees in the field. Some related areas that you can study at universities include film, communication, and journalism.

The most important aspect of social media management is hands-on experience and proof that you can grow a social account
The most important aspect of social media management is hands-on experience and proof that you can grow a social account or run an ad campaign successfully. Clients do not give a hoot about your educational qualifications. They want someone who can deliver on the job.

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore learning. There are online courses that teach how to run ad campaigns and everything social media management entails. For instance, you can find free, valuable, and certified courses on Hubspot Academy and Facebook blueprint.

Learning social media management online will help you understand the process faster instead of engaging in trial and error methods. Just don’t get stuck learning forever.

Is Freelance Social Media Management Worth It?

Social media management is an evolving industry, and you might wonder if it’s too late to join the game. Here’s the truth, it’s not. While many people want to become social media managers, very few pursue it as a career.

Social media management is not a get rich quick scheme. It is a competitive industry, and you need to stay in front of the game through continuous learning, experimentation, and personal growth. You also need to deliver great results for your clients consistently.

If you are passionate about social media and are willing to put in the work to become good at what you do, you will succeed as a freelance social media manager, and you can build a truly rewarding career.

About the author

David Wanjohi

David Wanjohi

David Wanjohi is a freelance content writer who enjoys all things mindset, personal growth and development, and entrepreneurship. During his free time, he enjoys reading books from Robin Sharma, Tim Ferris, and Stephen Covey. In his current role, he is using his expertise to help businesses and entrepreneurs communicate their message effectively on the web. For more information, find him on Upwork and LinkedIn.

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