Will 2010 Be the Year Social Media Salaries Start to Make Sense?

With 15,740 social media experts out there, it's no surprise that there are lots of 2010 social media prediction posts out there. A running theme among these posts is, again, not surprisingly, that 2010 will be the year the community/social media manager position becomes mainstream.

I agree that 2010 will see a lot of social media/community manager hires; unfortunately, as I've blogged about MANY times already, the titles and salaries associated with the position commonly called community manager or social media manager are all over the place. On one end of the spectrum, you have companies who think the position is perfectly well-suited to an unpaid intern or volunteer; on the other end, you have consultants charging basically whatever they want because, well, they can. The salary discrepancy is even worse in the association world; there are basically no benchmarks against which to classify positions such as mine--online community & social media manager--so assigning a salary to it is basically spinning the wheel and seeing what you get. In the association world, where salaries are set by comparing the position to a like position at other associations, what do you do when there are hardly any like positions? The process, in my opinion, is arbitrary, at best.

So hopefully, as more companies (and, hopefully, associations) ramp up social media hiring in 2010, clearer lines will begin to be drawn as far as what the position is called and what the appropriate salary for it is. I personally am committed to trying to shed as much light on this issue as possible because already women are bearing the brunt of the ambiguity--in 2009 alone the gap between the average male and female online community/social media salaries widened, with men earning an average of $86,644 (up from $85,423 in ’08) and women averaging $75,624 (down from $77,319 in ’08). Not cool for women, and also not cool for interns who are doing a job for free that is apparently worth a decent chunk of change. Also not cool for association staff who are not earning anything near those averages.

My association friend and colleague Ben Martin has put together a social media salary survey to try to gather and disseminate as much information as possible. Please--if you have a social media job, do me a favor and take his survey--the result will hopefully be more clearly defined job roles, titles and salaries for all involved in--or aspiring to--online community and/or social media positions.