Why it’s time to stop undervaluing social media managers

by Amber Robinson July 18, 2019

Now hiring: Writer, social strategist, graphic designer, campaign manager, project manager, community manager, SEO expert and data analyst. Ideally, we’d also like a web developer.

Here’s the catch: it’s all one job. And we want someone with only 1-2 years of industry experience, so we don’t have to pay you much.

It might sound absurd, but last week I saw a job advertisement from a large Australian company seeking a social media manager with a similar job description.

Wearing many hats

Rarely anywhere else in the media landscape would you employ a copywriter or graphic artist who was also a Jedi master at data and analytics. But because so many tasks can be broadly classified under the umbrella of ‘social media’, some employers think they can all be done by one insanely talented young graduate. One person with all the skills sounds good on paper but is hard to find. They may have a working knowledge of all facets of social media, but only specialise in a few.

I’ll bet you 100 bucks that if some sucker does take the role, they’ll leave in six months due to burnout. Or, they’ll only manage a third of the tasks on their impossibly long job description, leading to frustrations all round. The tasks involved in running a suite of social media channels can range from:

  • content creation (images, text and video)
  • comment moderation
  • audience development
  • community management
  • customer service
  • analytics

That’s just for an organic social presence.

Throw paid social into the mix and you’ll need someone adept at media planning and buying and campaign management.

Yet, the average salary for social media managers sits at just $59,535, which is a good $42% lower than the median Australian wage of $84,661. You’d pay a lot more for a campaign manager or creative director, so why are social managers who do all of these things so undervalued?

It can’t be their work ethic.

Social media managers at risk of burnout

Because social media never sleeps (and evenings are the most active time for social audiences), overtime and overwork are rife. The recent 2019 Australian Community Managers Career Survey found that 77% of community managers working on social media, worked more than 8 hours per day and 32% reported overwork and burnout.

Social media work also carries an emotional toll, especially for online community managers, who can moderate some of the worst material on the internet. Some Facebook moderators have even sued the company after developing PTSD on the job. These examples paint a bleak picture, but there is a lot to love about social media work – the variety (no day is ever the same), the positive engagement with community members and the option to work from home in pajamas are just a few.

We’ve long passed the point where social channels are an optional investment for organisations. Social media is a core component of any digital strategy. With that in mind, it’s time companies resourced their social teams properly and compensated their staff adequately.

The right social team (in-house or outsourced) will elevate your brand and tell customers your story. They’ll build a community of engaged and loyal consumers. They’ll provide deep insights about your customer’s pain points and preferences, helping your product strategy.

But they can only do that with the budget, time, and resources to do their jobs properly.

To put it bluntly – it’s time we took social media seriously.

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