It’s time to stop undervaluing social media managers
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 one to two years’ industry experience, so we don’t have to pay you much.
It might sound absurd, but recently I saw a job advertisement, with a similar job description, from a large Australian company seeking a social media manager.
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 pushed under the ‘social media’ umbrella, 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.
And 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 range from content creation (images, text and video), to comment moderation, audience development and community management, customer service and 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.
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 worked more than eight 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.
These examples paint a bleak picture, but there is a lot to love about social media work – the variety, positive engagement with community members, and option to work from home in pyjamas are just a few.
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.
Amber Robinson is a social media strategist at Quiip