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Social Media Manager - Working in an AD Agency or In-House?

I am currently actively searching for a job in Social Media Management or something similar to my specialisation in marketing and after already having 6 years of experience in social media related positions I realised companies have no idea what a social media manager even is or what is it expected a person in that role should be doing.

If we go to the basics of what is the primary role of a Social Media Manager, I have prepared a short list from my experience working at an advertising agency and a digital marketing agency. My role in both agencies was as a Social Media Manager and my tasks were managing from 5 to 7 social media accounts. Let's do a little list of my responsibilities as a Social Media Manager in an agency.

Creating Monthly Social Media Strategy

I was responsible to create a strategy on what are we going to post on a certain social media platform for a specific brand one month upfront. Social media strategies consist of ideas for visuals, copy, and hashtag strategy, but also competition analysis, and customer journey mapping. For example, if I would need to create a strategy for the month of February, I would have to create it in the first half of January in order to have enough time to send it to a client for review and get feedback on time before February starts.

Working Closely With the Design Team

Once the strategy is approved it is sent to the Design Team. A graphic designer then creates the visuals that you have in mind and sends them to you in a review again. Once they get a green light you can start scheduling the posts for the month of February.

Managing Social Media Accounts

This means posting already prepared and approved posts and replying to comments under them, answering DMs, engaging with followers, and communicating with influencers that would be relevant to the brand.

Reporting monthly insights and analytics to the client

After every month ended I had to create a monthly social media report. For example, at the beginning of March, I would gather the data and insights on how posts were performing for the month of February. Monthly reposts are always sent out to the client that is why I was always including possible new ideas for posts in the future for the client to see that we are proactive as an agency and to get more possibilities and direction regarding what content we can use.

But working in-house as a Social Media Manager is a whole new story. I just wanted to emphasize that this is my personal experience and it doesn't mean that it is universal for everyone that works in this position.

I have experience of working in-house for 2 years and a half in really different sectors. My responsibilities as a Social Media Manager have been the same as those stated above plus I suddenly had to become an Office Manager, a Graphic Designer, a Performance Marketing Manager, Video Editor, a Copywriter, and even a PR consultant.

I have a feeling that being a Social Media Manager, or even a Specialist at that point is not seen as a proper job in the eyes of companies. When companies search for a Social Media Manager, they are actually searching for someone that is going to take over 5 different jobs in the company, so they can save on that 4 different salaries, and then they expect a happy employee, who is not going to get burnout and will magically lead the company to become the next Oatly.

The last time I had a 1:1 with my boss I had to explain to him why all the expectations that he has from me are not possible because he was expecting me to work as a team of 5, while I was the only person in a Marketing department.

I am not saying that advertising agencies are better than in-house positions, they tend to have super toxic cultures but the only thing I really appreciated in an ad agency was the clear hierarchy, the description of what are my roles' responsibilities, and who do I answer to. While most of my in-house experiences have been from start-ups and they were just a huge mess.

The requirements for Social Media Manager positions on LinkedIn are also ridiculous. Somewhere I have noticed they are searching for someone with 15 years of experience in managing social media and it was around 2015 that brands actually started migrating to platforms like Facebook or Instagram, I mean if taking photos of my dog and applying some original Instagram filters count, then I have already around 13 years of experience.

Another thing I am absolutely allergic to is this statement that you can find on every Social Media Manager listing: " You live and breathe social...". I mean, I have the proof that I am spending more than 4 hours per day on Instagram, would that be plus points for me?

I have strained from the main topic but I am very frustrated with the way Social Media Managers are treated and I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing and creative people in the industry that are every day humiliated just because they chose a creative job they enjoy.

I am really interested to hear about your experiences as Social Media Managers, what do you think are the pluses and minuses of working in an advertising agency or in-house? Or did you decide that you have enough and became a freelancer instead? :D


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Miska Sage

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