ASAE's Community Manager Position

Have you seen the movie White Chicks? If so, you know that part where they say "OOOH, you want to talk about mothers?!" Weirdly, that scene was what I thought of when I saw ASAE's listing for a community manager. Why? Because if you read this blog you know if I have one pet issue, it's social media salaries, especially in the context of associations. So here is the association of associations, finally hiring a community manager...and the salary range is $48,000-$52,000. A figure so ridiculous I could not, try as I valiantly did, NOT blog about it.

So like the White Chicks wanted to talk about mothers, I want to talk about why this salary is just plain sad and wrong and sets a horrible benchmark for other associations.

Let's just take this recent Ogilvy post about finding the right social media strategist. It echos all the other advice I've both read and given about the challenges that face social media/community managers (actually, social media manager and community manager are not the same thing and I/we need to stop lumping them together, but that's a post for another time. Actually, scratch that--Rachel Happe's post about this says everything that needs to be said, and better than I'd ever say it.) In order to be successful in leading and implementing social media in an organization you need to have executive level buy-in. The person leading the charge, if not at the exec level, needs to at least have an exec level champion to make sure the things they suggest get buy-in. They need to be able to, as the Ogilvy post puts it, bust silos. This is especially important in the association context--including, I'm sure, ASAE. A quote from the Ogilvy post, in case you didn't click on it
The social media lead should be prepared to give non-threatening advice to an executive who is much more senior but also, work closely with communications managers to execute on the strategic plan.
Now back to the ASAE position. What level candidate are they going to get for the salary they're offering? I mean, it's not horrible or anything...but let's look at the still-paltry salary ranges that are out there for community and social media managers:
  • Socialfresh research did a great community manager infographic, which includes the average salary figure of $61,800.
  • Back in 2010 I blogged about Forum One Network's Online Community & Social Media Compensation Survey, and the reported averages were $86,644 (for men) and $75,624 (for women). Ridiculous about the gender bias but I already covered that in my post so I'll do you all a favor and digress.
  • Going back another year I did another post about some more community/social media manager salary figures
  • This past year I've seen several associations hiring for this role at the $70-$90k range. Granted, they are by far the exception rather than the rule, the rule is, in my opinion, wrong. Hiring one person to basically serve as an association's social media consultant and thinking a junior-level staffer making junior-level pay will be willing or able to accomplish the job is, to me, crazy.
  • Speaking of consultants, in case you don't know what they charge, Mack Collier did a great post about what social media costs companies in 2011. Hourly rate for social media consultants? $50-$500 an hour. Why else would everyone and their brother want to be one?
"Doing" social media for an association is a very tough job. Sure, it looks like a lot of playing on Facebook and Twitter to most people, but it's much more than that. It's working well beyond the regular workday, every day. It's dealing with internal resistance, and having to constantly have to sell ideas and prove results. It's doing crazy math and tracking and spreadsheets. It's spending so much time online that your eyesight will suffer and your family will complain. It's being on call 24/7 in case the shit hits the fan in the form of a blog post or a comment on a Facebook page or an angry tweet on a Friday night or a Saturday afternoon or over a holiday weekend.

I know--cry you a river, right? That's not my point. My point is that it's an uphill battle job every day, on an ongoing basis. And one that requires, in the association context, someone who is savvy about associations and social media and community management and a bunch of other things. Granted, we're still coming out of a recession, but seriously--thinking you're going to get a well-qualified candidate for $48k? In DC? Good luck with that. And the person you do get--ASAE senior staff are going to let that person lead the charge in changing internal politics? Busting silos?

Say they do get someone great--because everyone wants to be a community manager these days. How long will that person stay at ASAE making that money, when every day another company is looking to hire social media/community managers at the $60k, $70k, $80k and up range? Ok, maybe not every DAY but certainly every few weeks if not every week I see postings for social media jobs in the DC area.
I'll just leave it at this, since I'm boring even myself at this point: as an ASAE member who just spent the better part of 2010 fighting to be paid fairly for the job I do--a job very similar to the one ASAE is hiring for--and, ultimately succeeding, by the way--seeing them value the position at this level, is just insulting and depressing. And serves as a terrible example to other associations who will now see that range and think that's what the position is worth.