The Evolution of Community Management – Part 3
October 24, 2013 | Russ Martin | Comments
Most brands have been adding a community manager or two to the team, but because the position is so misunderstood, these managers find themselves facing a wide array of challenges that prevent them from contributing to full effect.
Part 1, The Origin Story and The Power Struggle, outlines how community management became a junior position, and why they now fight for a seat at the strategy table.
Part 2, Transparency Required and Reaching Across the Company, is an examination of best practices in the space, and how managers can’t make themselves more effective.
The CM glass ceiling
Slowly but surely, community managers are moving up the ranks within their agencies and brand teams and they’re likewise creeping up the pay ladder.
According to the Community Roundtable, which conducts studies on the field, the role has become a mid-career position in the U.S., and community managers have, on average, eight years of experience in the industry, though salaries range widely from company to company and agency to agency. In 2013 the average salary for the Community Roundtable’s member base—which includes major brands like ING, Edelman Digital and Ernst & Young—was $65,778, a figure that is in line with Marketing’s own 2012 salary survey, which shows the range in Canada is $40,000 to $120,000, with most community managers falling between $70,000 and $100,000.
One agency executive interviewed for this piece says he’s willing to pay six figures for a senior level community manager, though many others reported low end figures in the $30,000 range, especially at community management “farms” where rows of fresh faced recent university grads regurgitate pre-approved messages.
Of course, those in the six figure range are expected to do more than day to day community management. That kind of salary brings with it a host of responsibilities, like helping creative teams integrate social media into above the line campaigns, and usually goes to a community manager who has a slash title (ie: community manager/strategist), a “senior” community manager like those described by DDB’s Ed Lee or a “social executive” like Monty.
Though some social experts receive this kind of salary, the average isn’t likely to skyrocket as long as the position is perceived as junior, says Jen McDonnell, vice-president of
social media and content at Reshift Media. McDonnell, who manages social accounts for several brands including the UPS Store, says because so many community managers are young, they don’t have the experience to command top dollar. “I don’t think that’s just community managers, I think it’s industry wide,” she says.
24-Hour Community Managers
What drives community managers to work at 3:00 a.m.?
No matter what salary they are given, community managers work around the clock. Though contract hours may dictate an eight-to-eight schedule, a standard across most businesses interviewed for this piece, community managers know a controversy may break out late at night or on a weekend. They all live in fear of being called out as a brand that neglected a consumer, as British Airways was when claimed its “Twitter hours” were 9-5, upsetting a consumer to the point that he spent $1,000 on a promoted tweet to bash the brand.
For some community managers, like Amber Gordon, who was managing Denny’s social media presence before landing a job as a creative strategist at Tumblr, late at night is simply the best time to reach their demographic.
Millennials across America take after-bar selfies at Denny’s restaurants every night (as the kids on Tumblr say, “Denny’s at 3:00 am is a way of life”) creating a treasure trove of user created content for the brand to use. Because of that activity, Gordon says she used to stay up until 3:00 a.m. regularly, knowing that’s when her posts would get the most engagement.
Other community managers get more sleep. At DDB, for example, most client agreements require one to two checks at night and four checks over the weekend.
Some brands also outsource community management overnight, using services like ICUC and LiveWorld that act as a sort of community management call centre for when marketers can’t respond.
To read more about the future of community management and a discussion on who should be in charge of a brand’s social media, pic up the issue, available on newstands, and to subscribers in print and on their iPad
This series originally appeared as “Community Management Fun & Games” in the Oct. 21 issue of Marketing.