Association Social Media Staffing

It's Friday night and I REALLY should be doing something other than blogging...but I happened to leaf through the Association Buyers' Guide (can't link to it b/c it's not online yet--if it's posted I'll come back and update with link) to an article called "WatsNxt4Tech?" According to the article "Today's top trend in association technology? Hands down, it's social media." This supports one of the main findings of NTEN's 2010 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report that I blogged about the other day: "one-half of organizations indicate that they will increase employee staffing related to commercial social networks in the coming 12 months."

The article goes on to talk about the importance of hiring the right kind of person to ensure the success of their social media endeavors, and how "more times than not, associations' social media attempts leave visitors searching for real value" because "many organizations simply plopped the community manager role onto a communications person's already-full plate and hoped for the best."

Here's the thing: if, as the article asserts "we've fully entered the time of mass adoption [of social media], and the key to success is hiring someone with the right skills and experience to drive an associations' social media and online community initiatives...where are the salary benchmarks associations need to attract and keep qualified candidates?

I've blogged about this issue so often that if you Google "social media salaries" or "social media manager salary", my posts appear in the top 3 results. Yes, I am known to obsess over certain issues...and this is one of them.

Here's the thing: when new association jobs are created, the salaries are determined by benchmarking the position against similar positions in the association world. Right now, ASAE does not have any benchmarks for social media/community management jobs. Benchmarks do exist: read my other posts about the various social media and community management salary surveys that have been conducted over the past 2 years. However, association social media salaries don't even come CLOSE to the average salary reported in those surveys. Or, I should say, MY salary and the few other salaries I know of other association social media professionals don't come close.

I'll get to the point so we can all go on with our Friday evenings: ASAE, PLEASE put your money where your mouth is. Yes, social media is a growing trend, one associations can no longer ignore and need to start staffing for. PLEASE develop some kind of salary benchmarks for the position. If you don't, associations will continue to want to pay coordinator-level salaries and expect director-level strategy, continuous learning as social media changes on an almost daily basis, and much more than a 9-5 commitment to real-time social media monitoring and responsiveness.

Ok, I am stepping away from the keyboard now...