What’s it really like to work in social media? Hootsuite’s CMO, Elina Vilk, delves deep into the current landscape of the modern social media marketer with insights from the company’s latest report.
Social media has become integral to our lives, shaping how we connect, communicate, and consume information. From the early days of MySpace twenty years ago to the rise of Instagram, TikTok, and beyond, the landscape of social media has evolved at breakneck speed. But have you ever wondered what it’s like to work behind the scenes as a social media manager, navigating this ever-changing digital terrain?
Hootsuite recently unveiled its inaugural Social Media Career Report, “The Emotional Support Report.” We wanted to understand how a job in social media really makes social media managers feel and to provide both social media marketers and senior marketing leaders with the data they need to advocate for social at the table. This comprehensive study takes an in-depth look into the lives of social media marketers, offering an unfiltered glimpse into their daily experiences and the state of their profession.
This article will uncover the top insights we found about the state of mind of social media managers, the factors determining their compensation, and predictions for the future of social media marketers.
Let’s dive into the data.
Happiness & Hardships
Social media management has evolved into a complex and multifaceted profession, requiring practitioners to perform a delicate dance of multitasking and adaptation. These modern-day alchemists must juggle numerous responsibilities, from dealing with online trolls and managing floods of comments to staying ahead of ever-evolving trends. It’s not all sunshine and likes, but there’s a unique satisfaction in the challenge.
In our report, we uncovered some sobering statistics: 66% of social media marketers claim they have too many different responsibilities, 51% say they don’t have enough time to excel in their roles, and 41% admit that their work has a negative impact on their mental health. The relentless demands of the digital world can take a toll, leaving many to grapple with the delicate balance between professional success and personal well-being. But here’s the kicker: social marketers still love their jobs despite all of it.
In fact, more than three-quarters (77%) of them report being happy working in social media.
We found that the happiest marketers:
- Do social marketing full-time – Salaried social marketers who spend at least 90% of their day working on social media are happier in their jobs than those who spend less than half their day working on social. The same goes for non-salaried social marketers who make at least 90% of their income from social media versus those who make less than half.
- Work in the office – Social marketers who work in the office 5 days a week are happier (81%) than those who work remotely all or some of the time. The data indicates job satisfaction is still high for fully remote or hybrid workers (76%).
- Work for larger organizations – 83% of social marketers who work for companies with 1,000 employees or more are happy in their jobs. For those at companies with under 1,000 employees, this number dips to 77%.
- Sit on a larger social media team – Those who work on social teams of 4 or more people are happier (83%) than those who work on teams of 3 or less (77%). The bigger, the better—social marketers who work on teams of 100 or more report being the happiest, at 86%.
- Get paid fairly – Social marketers who strongly believe they’re paid fairly are significantly happier than the average social pro. Freelancers and creators are less likely than salaried social marketers to believe they’re fairly compensated (45% vs. 53%).
Social Media Marketer Pay & Compensation
Nevertheless, our report highlights significant disparities. In the social media industry, a gender pay gap persists, with the average salary for men in social media jobs being $91,586 annually, compared to $69,404 for women. This disparity underscores the ongoing need for workplace equality. Organizational leaders are the ones to address this gap. As we empower women to take on leadership roles in social media marketing, advocating for pay equity in these positions (as well as in all others) should be table stakes.
Education also contributes to salary. Our data indicates that students graduating from marketing, journalism, communications, and media programs possess the necessary skills to thrive as social marketers in the real world. Pursuing education in these fields, or in social media management specifically, could greatly benefit aspiring social professionals. It’s not imperative to opt for an elite master’s degree; online social media certification courses and other training opportunities that demand less commitment can be just as, if not more, advantageous. Having a postgraduate degree doesn’t necessarily increase your likelihood of success as a social media manager, although it could potentially result in higher earnings.
While our research demonstrates that larger organizations typically offer higher salaries, it’s essential to recognize that compensation isn’t the sole factor to consider. Working for smaller organizations often comes with unique advantages that can be equally, if not more, valuable than monetary benefits. Smaller brands often foster an ‘all hands on deck’ approach, leading to diverse tasks, exposure to different aspects of the business, opportunities for skill expansion through new experiences, and close collaboration with senior leaders. These chances for learning and personal growth can significantly enhance your employability in the future. Moreover, within smaller organizations, it’s often easier to stand out, make a direct impact, and be noticed for your contributions.
The Future of the Social Media Marketer
It’s evident that the role of social marketers is gaining recognition, although there is still a significant journey ahead. A considerable 56% report that their supervisors lack a deep understanding of social media, indicating a substantial knowledge gap that needs to be addressed. When considering total pay, including base salaries and additional cash compensation like bonuses, individuals in other managerial marketing positions, such as brand managers, email marketing managers, and SEO managers, tend to earn more than social media managers. This disparity underscores the fact that social professionals are not valued as highly as their counterparts in other marketing roles. With all this said, many ways exist to make a case for social’s ROI in the marketing mix.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Despite feeling overworked and overwhelmed, social media marketers find reasons to smile. A remarkable 67% say they are satisfied with their work-life balance, and 72% of those working remotely full-time report the same satisfaction. The majority (61%) even see social media as a long-term career, a testament to the industry’s potential for growth and innovation.
We also discovered that 67% of salaried social marketers have successfully negotiated a pay raise within their companies. How did they achieve this? They simply asked. Remarkably, three out of four social marketers who requested a raise received one. This outcome was not solely because they deserved it but because their rationales were so compelling. That’s why it’s so vital for social media managers to be their own advocates when it comes to pay increases—and they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.
Social media is in a constant state of growth, evolution, and progress, which makes working in this field incredibly challenging. However, it’s precisely this dynamic nature that solidifies social media marketing as a bulletproof career choice. The continuous changes mean there will always be a demand for professionals who can stay updated and utilize their expertise to engage customers effectively in this ever-evolving medium. Social marketing isn’t fading away, and neither are the 61% of social media managers who view it as a long-term career.
As marketing leaders, we need to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to advocate for our social marketers at the leadership table. From content creation to customer service and crisis, social media managers do it all—and it’s time for us to truly recognize and shine a light on all the work that they do.
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