Home Blog Uncategorized We’re simply not paying our social talent nearly enough

We’re simply not paying our social talent nearly enough


Let’s just say it out loud: Some of these social media jobs simply don’t pay enough.

Starting with entry-level positions. Glassdoor tells us the average salary for a social media specialist (typical entry-level job) is $47,326. Now, to be clear, the Gen Xer in me still thinks that is a lot of money for an entry-level position! After all, my first job in comms paid me less than $20,000! However, if we dive a little deeper into the details you can quickly see this is not a salary commiserate with the roles and responsibilties.

We all know social media folks have a wide range of job responsibilties–and that’s putting it mildly, actually. Here are just a few of the things social media specialists are asked to do in 2022:

  • Set and develop social media strategy (not always, but in some cases, especially when they are the only full-time social media person on staff)
  • Manage social communities on a daily basis (definitely)
  • Manage social ad budgets and programs (again, sometimes)
  • Manage social media influencer programs (many times)
  • Create reports and track social analytics on a monthly basis (absolutely)

I could go on. Keep in mind, many of these responsibilities are public-facing, so screwing up and making mistakes has bigger consequences than some other similar roles (internal comms, for example).

Point being: It’s a hard job. It’s a stressful job. A lot is required and asked of you. You’re out there on an island, usually. And pressure is high.

Yet, specialist roles are paying $47,000. Just look at this job from the Minnesota Historical Society.

For context, my 15-year old daughter, who works behind a counter at a local bakery/restaurant in our neighborhood would make roughly $42,000-44,000 if she were to work full-time.That’s a job that requires absolutely zero education or experience–she got the job just a few months ago right after she turned 15! We’re paying social media specialists, who conceivably are high school AND college graduates, who often have college debt, and may even have a few years of experience, only a few thousand dollars more than my 15-year-old daughter.

Something is wrong with that math.

What’s more, think about the cost of living for a 20-year-old who might apply for one of these jobs. They have rent, food, utilities as the basics.

Here in Minneapolis, basic costs would look like this:

  • Average rent for a 777 square foot apartment (that’s not huge!): $1,658
  • Energy utilities: $166
  • Phone bill: $184
  • Food bill: $369 (seems low)
  • Transportation: $623
  • Health care: $161
  • Other: $393
  • Taxes: $419

That totals $3,973 per month just to live. That $47,000 a year breaks down to $3,916 per month. You can probably do the math.

These jobs just aren’t paying these younger people enough.

But it’s not just the junior-level jobs. The senior-level roles are almost as bad.

Take this Spotify role I saw recently. It’s for a “Social Media Lead”. They’re looking for someone with 10+ years experience. The role pays $64,000-$81,000. In New York City. I don’t even need to go through the exercise above to tell you that’s not a lot of money for someone living in New York City (what would baseline rent be? $4,000+ per month?).

What about closer to home here in Minneapolis? This role for an associate manger of social media and channels is estimated by Indeed to pay between $54,600 and $69,200. Again, look at the long list of responsibilities for this position. Then look at the salary range again. Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

What’s more, when compared with other jobs in similar niches, like communications, senior social media roles are often severely underpaid.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a social media director is $86,094. The “most likely” range for this salary is between $66,000-$113,000.

On the other hand, for a communications director, the average salary is $105,993 with the “most likely” range between $82,000-$138,000.

By my math, comms directors are making 23% more than their social media director counterparts.

And marketing directors are even worse! That average salary is $165,000 with a “most likely” range between $125,000-$223,000. Pretty crazy.

I understand social is still a relatively new niche and HR teams and executives still truly do not understand its importance, but those are pretty big gaps. And, it may start to dissuade people from taking on these senior-level roles, or even from going into social in the first place.

At the very least, it’s a huge slap in the face to senior-level people who have probably been working in social for 8-10+ years.

It’s time the market corrected itself and started paying these social media counselors what they’re worth. Otherwise, we may all be looking at a huge talent gap in the next 5-10 years.



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