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Social Media Salary Report: Ladies, It's Not Pretty

Those of you who frequent this blog know I'm obsessed with social media salaries--I post about the lack of social media salary and title data quite frequently.

So you know I jumped at the chance to participate in Forum One Network's Online Community & Social Media Compensation survey for 2009 because by doing so I would get a copy of the results. Well, those results are out now. If you want to see the whole thing you'll have to purchase a copy; however, I can share these facts: (most of these I've taken directly from the product description; hopefully that's ok by Forum One Networks.)

  • The gap between the average male and female salaries widened, with male respondents averaging $86,644 (up from $85,423 in '08) and females averaging $75,624 (down from $77,319 in '08).

  • The majority of respondents reported a salary increase in 2009, but the percentage compared to last year was down, as was a significant increase in the number of respondents who took a salary decrease in 2009 compared to 2008.

  • Average overall job satisfaction was down by a fraction, from 4.2 (out of 5) in 2008 to 4.1 (out of 5) in 2009.

  • Several respondents mentioned feeling like they were being inadequately compensated because of lack of data available regarding community and social media salaries, as well as lack of understanding of community and social media ROI relative to their organization's activities.

I'm going to pause and reflect on that first bullet point because, frankly, I am disappointed. All you read about is how females are dominating the online world: they dominate social networking sites, are seen by marketers as carrying the largest share of online influence, and they make up a rapidly-increasing share of the market for video games.

Forum One's 2008 study of this same subject found that 55% of community manager positions were held by women. While that number decreased slightly this year (52% of the respondents were women), 52% is still a majority . Why, then, the substantial disparity in incomes between male and female community managers? And why the widening gap (women make 87% of what men make, according to the 2009 survey, while last year that figure was 91%)?

It's bad enough that female social media speakers are being ignored; now you're telling me that even though women are often considered to be better suited to online community management, they're making way less than men at it?

What's up with this? What can be done to keep this trend from continuing?
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  • Aug 17 Posted 6 years ago DaniCalifornia (not verified)

    Hi There, 

    First off, great post - I couldn't be more intrigued with your findings and discussion. I am a 25 year old, female working in PR in SF for a "cookie-cutter" agency servicing clients with mostly traditional PR, I have gained some experience in social media, but it seems that the agency space isn't quite getting the concept entirely. I envy the male in his 30 - 40's that is coined the social media guru and find they typically carry these child-like, witty and charismatic and somewhat "cool" persona's, hate to be stereotypical, but that is what I have found aside from people in their early 20's that are supervised by senior leaders who "understand" social media. In any case, being the blond overachiever with a headliner personality that I am, I am hard-pressed to find an agency that is appealing or an audience that I can find that I would appeal to (minus the make-up and fashion, please I am a geek at heart). I spoke with Mekanism, and I was practically laughed off the phone because apparently a lot of "high school jocks" that come up with incredibly compelling creative content is their "corporate culture" so the hiring manager sold. Moreover, in most PR agencies the top is typically held by men, which you think would be astonishing given its a female dominated industry, so isn't that telling us something? We are not speaking up! We are not participating, but not making enough noise in the right spaces! No? What's happening?

    Regardless if I will ever fit the bill as a social media guru, earlier you were discussing whether this is social media or social media marketing and I believe that the answer is neither. I believe in the buzz term "integrated communication" and that involves moving digital/online content, PR, marketing, social media and a throw in a couple of crazy creative people and there you go, you have the "New Agency." I don't understand why PR, marketing and the digital space are starting up firms and trying to "own" or lay claim to a certain area when we should all be working together. All easier said than done though right? It can't all come in a box, at least not yet anyway. 

    But, back to a larger issue and a trending one in history, women need to gain a voice and it sounds like someone needs to teach them how to "sound off' so to speak. Thanks for speaking up, Maggie. I am starting up a blog and don't mean to plug it here, however I'd love to get your insights on it as well. Maybe I could start a platform for women to gain a voice rather than following "him" to find out where "he" is heading, or discuss fashion tips? What are your thoughts? I appreciate your feedback and look forward to learning. 

    My blog: http://thelouderprofessional.wordpress.com/author/thelouderprofessional/ 

    Thanks! Danielle


  • May 14 Posted 7 years ago jfknet I agree Valerie, and I would be interested in the sample sizes. I know this is an older post Maggie, but maybe an anonymous survey on the site for salaries would help with voluntary disclosure of sex, and of course position title.
  • Nov 6 Posted 7 years ago valeriebressman Full disclosure, I'm female, but having a little heartburn about this broad stroke "statistic." How many positions and which ones got lumped into your male/female category? Are you comparing VPs and consultants or writers and strategists and how many women and how many men? I wouldn't put too much credence in the numbers before I had a chance to understand the data.
  • AmberSimsHinterplat's picture
    Nov 6 Posted 7 years ago AmberSimsHinterplat Wow, this is truly interesting and slightly disturbing, although I really have to agree about the usual difference in negotiating skills between men and women.

    Social media doubters need to watch "Social Media Revolution" on YouTube before they question the power of social media as a marketing powerhouse for businesses any longer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVXKI506w-E

    I have been using SMM as a brand building, public relations and direct promotional marketing strategy for brands for more than 5 years and going strong.

    What's interesting is what I see happening in the last 12 months with people (usually guys sorry!) around me in the internet industry - they are claiming that they are now experts with social media as marketers simply because they understand SEO or online advertising. Be aware of the differences in skill sets between the tech understanding of SEO and Google ranking and the true marketing communications experts that embrace online PR.  

    Valuing a digital marketing manager for a business needs to come from more areas that just online advertising, search engine optimization, or some personal or short term social media usage. It's a combination of many skill sets. And don't let PR Firms fool you either, they generally over-charge for services and under deliver for SMM (go ahead, ask around about usual monthly retainer costs)!

    Social media marketing may be "newer" as a well known and "accepted" marketing strategy, but is still requires strong traditional marketing management skills and the development of an overall marketing strategy for a brand that reaches targeted audiences online as well as offline.

    Don't be fooled by the hype of someone who talks the talk. Look for marketers that were early adopters of social media technology and set the trend in motion for brand building with social networks pre 2007 that know how to create a worthy "call to action" for a brand's followers.

    Lastly, look for marketing professionals that aren't afraid to work in teams openly - no one person these days can know it all. At the rate social media aps are being added and the pace at which trends are changing, bringing on a small team i.e. virtual agency of marketers is a smart way to go.

    Yours Socially,
    p.s. Love this debate, thanks so much Maggie for sharing this information! Setting rates in uncharted territory is always tricky and requires extensive research and comparison to other paid forms of marketing like traditional print, TV, and radio advertising. I used to write ads for a big luxury brand advertising in the LA Times at $16,000 a pop for 1/4 page! Holy resources drained and hard to track ROI!  

  • Nov 6 Posted 7 years ago CoffeeMarketing I still find it hard to categorise "Social Media" or "Social Marketing". I would imagine that since social is not a marketing channel and should work across all marketing effort that it is difficult to define a "Social Marketeers" salary?
  • Nov 6 Posted 7 years ago MaryAdams I concur. Usually, the first offer of compensation is not the best one that the company is prepared to offer. Men know this and they don't dream of accepting the first offer. They ask for more. On the other hand, women are more likely to accept the first offer.

    This is partly because traditionally, women have had fewer opportunities than men to learn how to negotiate. That's unfortunate because EVERYTHING is negotiable and it is a hugely important skill to have, not just professionally but in all aspects of our lives, particularly in personal relationships!!

    In North American & European cultures (as well as others), men are more likely to be dealing with the financial matters, paying the tab at restaurants, etc -- chances to practice negotiating. Just like anything else, with time, observation, and experience we gain confidence in our negotiating skills. But without having (or seizing) those opportunities, women may never learn how. These are broad generalizations, probably a little outdated and obviously not the case for every woman. I know some very skilled negotiators who are women!!!

    There are plenty of resources to help women become (better) negotiators if we seek them out... i.e. reading books and articles, taking classes, networking. There are probably a dozen LinkedIn groups on this topic already! Additionally we should share our knowledge and skills with one another.
  • maggielmcg's picture
    Nov 2 Posted 7 years ago MaggieMcGary1 Ryan--I totally agree with you. 

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