What do you want to become?
Social Media Manager
Alternate Career Titles:
Career Overview: Social Media Managers write and schedule content for an artist or music company’s social pages. They also interact with fans and provide customer service on the social sites they manage.
Average Annual Salary: $50,500
General Salary Range: $40,000 to $70,000
Become a Social Media Manager
Social Media Manager Jason Pollak operates a wide range of social media sites for clients like Lil Wayne and Young Money Entertainment. He tells us, “The basis of the job is all about being organized. I have different schedules for each page I manage, about ten per day normally. Every day I will go through the new content that was posted from the artists across their social channels to make sure I have all the new content. I will check in on these thirty or so channels throughout the day as well, just in case something new should pop up, which it usually does.
I also check the analytics across our pages, to make sure I’m hitting the goals I set forth for each page and everything is performing as I expect it should. If not, it requires adjustment in the daily strategy and the content I am posting on each channel. To do this, I need to be organized with daily schedules for each channel, from 9 am to 11 pm, so I can plot out the day accordingly and keep track of what I am posting and perhaps what needs to change. There are some days that require travel as well, in which case I have to plan ahead in terms of scheduling. Every day I will make at least sixty posts, if not more, so planning and staying a step ahead is essential.”
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Social Media Managers usually start out as Interns in a music organization before becoming a Social Media Assistant or Coordinator. (The exact titles will depend on the structure of the company.) Advancement in this situation might mean becoming Head of Digital Marketing or it might mean working with more well-known clientele. For him, Pollak says advancement would mean that “besides continuing to grow within my role with current clients, I would like to manage an artist myself and develop a full-service creative and management agency.”
Education & Training
A degree in Communications or English could be helpful for working as a Social Media Manager, as strong writing skills are a requirement. Some schools also offer degrees in social media related fields or offer relevant coursework as part of a more traditional degree program. “It seems as though there are more programs that deal particularly with social media, entrepreneurialism, and digital marketing these days, so I would definitely try to take those types of courses, if offered at a college you are going to,” Pollak recommends. “If you aren’t enrolled in college, you can perhaps sign up for some classes.
If not, it is not a dead end when it comes to social media. Instead, I recommend you start up your own social accounts and learn all the basics. To be honest this is probably the best way to get started before investing money into classes if you aren’t enrolled in college at the moment. You can also go through all of the tips that each platform offers in their help sections. When I was in college from 2006 to 2010, these programs and classes did not yet exist and social media was still for friends and family, mostly. Facebook was basically just for sharing photo albums from your night out with friends, Twitter was in its very early stages, Instagram did not yet exist at all and LinkedIn was just starting out. So I wouldn’t say you need to take these courses in order to master social media and/or marketing but if the Teacher is well versed in it, it could be worth it at some point.”
Experience & Skills
Obviously, a Social Media Manager needs to know his or her way around the big three social sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). They must also keep an eye on new developments and new social networking opportunities. Pollak says, “Before I started working in this field professionally, I had started my own WordPress site and was using whatever platform was available to me to get page views. It was good practice. That was how I learned everything, just by doing it myself in my spare time, in between working as a Journalist.
I was also an English major so writing was always a strong point for me, which I do think you need if you wish to manage an array of accounts with various types of language. For example, a post about Nicki Minaj, which is targeted to her fan base, will have different language than a post for someone like Lil Wayne or Drake and their fan base. You aren’t going to be writing more than 200 words in a post probably, but understanding and mastering the English language would be advisable. It will give you a leg up, especially when it comes to managing high profile clients. Every post will need to be perfect and you could be making sixty per day. You don’t want typos.
I also interned at Hot 97 for Funkmaster Flex, which taught me a lot about working for a high profile type of client for a big company. So, start off with a local artist to get your feet wet and grow from there.”
To succeed as a Social Media Manager, Pollak says, “I think you need to be a dedicated, organized, collected and studious individual. You will always be learning something new when it comes to social media as they evolve and create new rules or tricks for each platform. It requires staying on top of updates, conducting weekly research and studying what others are doing. It could be something big like Facebook updating its news feed, where a type of content that was performing through the roof just last month is no longer as viable as it was.
However, if you know what Facebook has changed and what they are asking for at the current moment, then you can find a way to adjust. But you need to stay calm and pay attention. It might sound simple and funny, but you don’t want to be the one that is using the emoji or language everyone else was using last year. You need to stay current. You will also need to find a way to communicate all of this to your team who may or may not be in the social media trenches every day. For example, [try] Instagram Story Highlights. Everyone has a link in the bio, but why not put up a new Story Highlight as well, with a link to swipe up to get to the content, too? You need to figure out how to utilize new tools and updates to your advantage because if you don’t, someone else will.”
“The best part of the work lifestyle is that I can work anywhere,” Pollak explains. “I don’t have an office to report to and I don’t have an office myself. I prefer it this way because I can invest in a more quality apartment with space to work and then have the freedom to work from wherever I want. If I want to travel somewhere for the week, I can. I can’t do that all the time because it does get pricey when it comes to travel expenses; staying anywhere for a week is usually $1,000 at a minimum but I do travel and work occasionally. For example, Lil Wayne had a merch launch at Neiman Marcus in Miami so I flew down for the week. Or when Lil Wayne has his annual Lil Weezyana Festival it is always a good excuse to spend a week in New Orleans. So I try to merge both travel and work together.
I wouldn’t say there are typical hours when running your own business or social media. I think you are generally always on the clock should something pop off or someone needs advice on something. There are days/nights where there might be a single release at midnight, at 3 am in the morning, or on a weekend. Perhaps your client is hosting an event or at an event over the weekend and you need to be on because there might be content you need to post.
However, most days, I would say working between 9 am to 7 pm is the norm. For the most part, I am in contact with the heads of the label and management company for Lil Wayne and Young Money, an artist’s Manager, Touring Managers, or even an artist themself. There are also a lot of third-party vendors we work with.”
To land a first job in social media management, Pollak says, “You have to hustle, bottom line. If it’s not you, it will be someone else who is putting in the legwork to get a job, to make a connection or to get a client. It’s as simple as that when it comes to finding an opportunity, especially within the music industry. Music labels, radio stations, etc. will usually have internship openings listed so that is good to get a start but there are usually more opportunities or upcoming opportunities that aren’t listed.
There really isn’t a standard job board with job openings. I can tell you for a fact that no music artist will have a job board with openings if you want to join their team. It’s about timing and finding a way to meet people. I started working with Lil Wayne because I emailed the web design company who was creating his website and asked if they needed help managing it. From there, I was connected to his team. So don’t ever give up. You need patience and dedication and you need to turn over every stone. However, once you can find your first big client, you will be able to meet more people and find more opportunities. It doesn’t necessarily always land you a job or client, but it will give you an in, which is always good to have. You never know, perhaps there will be an opportunity for working with someone you meet down the line.”
How a Social Media Manager earns income and how much they earn will vary widely based on their work situation. The longer someone has been working in the field, the more likely they are to earn a higher salary. Location will also affect pay as will the size of the organization for which the Social Media Manager is working. Larger organizations may have the resources to make this a salaried position whereas smaller companies or individuals may hire a Social Media Manager as a freelance employee.
Unions, Groups, Social Media, and Associations
There are no professional organizations for Social Media Managers but it’s no surprise that due to the nature of the business itself, there are loads of networking opportunities to be found online. “Get your social media up and market yourself,” Pollak advises. “Networking on Instagram or LinkedIn will probably present the best opportunities, at least for the time being. Like and comment, search around and pay attention to who is engaging with your content. There is nothing wrong with reaching out to someone you find on social media. You simply never know if someone will respond.
I would say reaching out two to three times is an acceptable amount before you start to annoy someone and they will just ignore you. Perhaps they saw your message and just can’t help you at the moment. Perhaps they just took a mental note and will get back to you when they can. If you keep messaging them, then forget it. You will be put on the ‘ignored’ list and never have a chance, if/when there is one.
Try to go to networking events. I have found people mainly just go to get freebies, whether it is advice, food or drinks. I wouldn’t rule them out, though. You never know. Also, go to shows and concerts, try to build up your own social channels so you can get into events. Be consistent, but always switch it up.”
- “Get your hands dirty and start your own social media channels.
- Go through the help sections and learn how to use them inside and out.
- Practice making different kinds of posts.
- Perhaps start your own hip-hop Instagram and a pop music Instagram to get an idea of the different kinds of content that works for different audiences.
- Take classes and get a degree if possible.
- Apply for internships.
- Network on social media and in-person.”
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Work hard. Hustle. Patience is a virtue.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“They give up, stop innovating, stop learning. They think they know everything and they think it will be something that happens quickly. Everything takes time. There is always someone more experienced than you. Never stop learning. A CEO could learn something new from an Intern, to be honest. A good leader knows how to listen to people.
So don’t be insecure or rather, too secure, and always know there is something you can learn. It doesn’t make you weaker, it makes you stronger. I think that’s a popular misconception. Also, if you are working with people who don’t share your values, leave the situation. Don’t hang on for the sake of hanging on. Don’t get too caught up in the visions of grandeur to ignore what is going on day-to-day. Your time is the most important thing you can’t waste. Dedicate that time to building your career, not to people that don’t share your work ethic and vision or who don’t treat you properly. You shouldn’t burn bridges, you just have to move on in a polite way.”
What is the question people should ask about this career but rarely do?
“I think it goes back to the first question. People don’t fully comprehend the everyday grind and what it takes. I think there’s a misunderstanding when it comes to digital marketing and management. People use social media in their everyday lives and assume it is just posting content, adjusting filters, etc. like they would do on a night out or at a party but there is more to it.
I approach it like a television programmer. It’s not just about posting content but understanding timeliness and what an audience wants to see at a specific time of the day, not just the popular time when most people are online. You also need to have different programs, so to speak. Just posting a picture of someone smiling and having a good time won’t cut it. While you don’t have to call each one a specific series, it’s important to have an array of content. There can be fashion-centric posts, lifestyle posts, posts just for song releases, posts designed to engage the audience, posts about a recent performance or a behind the scenes series. There can be funny viral posts that you mix in strategically, etc. It’s all about understanding your audience and analytics.
On top of that, you can mix in big moments like new interviews, live sessions, appearances, strategic sponsorships, get a hashtag trending, [and] release different variations of the same video, such as a selfie video, the music video and a live performance of a video. There is, of course, the streaming side of it, which is increasingly becoming, as expected, the place where people will find your music the most. So, incorporating the big streaming services into your social strategy and managing those channels is very important, too, especially if you want to get on big playlists and generate revenue. There are always multiple steps to shine a different light on your various interests.”
What is one thing I should have asked which I didn’t?
“[About] the advertising aspect of social media. Traditional advertising is really shifting towards digital. I think one day a spend on TV ads will be next to irrelevant. It will be more for nostalgic purposes than any actual purpose. The TV audience is shrinking. Cable subscribers and TV owners are shrinking. Screens at home are shrinking. Not to say TV shows won’t be popular; they will be but not on a traditional TV channel or screen.
I think the biggest ad buys will be within the confines of social media, YouTube, and similar platforms, encompassing/multipurpose apps like WeChat, branded partnerships and services like Amazon. That’s where the audience is going and it’s already vast and super connected. In order to build a social media channel, advertise a product, and roll out a release, you need to budget a spend for it and you need to understand how to create ads.
I don’t think there is enough knowledge when it comes to creating an audience for an ad. It’s very delicate, time-consuming and requires a lot of testing. Most people treat advertising as second fiddle to organic, but with social media, it’s really like peanut butter and jelly. Both are equally important to create a tasty sandwich, so to say.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
Jason Pollak currently owns his own entertainment company, Runnin’ With It, and manages over 100 million social media followers daily. Some of his partners include Young Money Entertainment, Lil Wayne, and The Blueprint Group. Over the past five years, he has garnered over 30 million social media fans for Lil Wayne, Young Money and more.