So, What Do Community Managers Make?

I participated in the Forum One Online Community Compensation Survey in July and the results were just emailed to me last week by Bill Johnston who coordinated the survey.  The research was sponsored by Mzinga, Solution Set and the Online Community Research Network.

Here are my take-aways from the report:

Wide range of salaries – The survey showed a wide range of salaries for community manager positions.   The low-end represents volunteers, part-time staff and people in start-up environments working on developing communities.  While people earning more than $125,000 represent only 16% of total respondents, my sense is that this is the sweet spot for companies that are serious about social media and community strategy – and recognize that these are the salaries that the people filling these roles will command based on the depth and breadth of their experience.  (see my Community Managers and Quarterbacks blog post for more information on that topic.)

Derived from Forum One Aug. 2008 Report on Community Compensation

Derived from Forum One Aug. 2008 Report on Community Compensation

Disparity of experience levels – The report pointed out that people with less than 3 years of experience accounted for 34% of the total, people with 3-5 years of experience accounted for 19% and people with more than 5 years experience accounted for 47% of the total.  The Forum One conclusion was that “the body of respondents generally represents a senior and seasoned body of practitioners. The dip in responses in the 3yr to 5 yr range likely represents the general waning of interest in online community during the 3 years after the Internet bubble.”  I also think that the large number in the under 3 year category represent employees who are getting involved in community at companies that are just entering the experimentation phase with community and social media – and that these employees had related jobs in marketing, but not specifically community jobs, before getting involved in community.  That is definitely my situation.  I was involved in various product marketing, product strategy and consulting roles before getting assigned a project to develop and launch the Catalyze community.

Variety of job titles – There are a wide variety of reported job titles in the survey including:

CEO, Managing Partner, Community Manager, Director of Community, Director of Product Management, Manager, President, Community Host, Intern, Moderator, Intranet Coordinator, Professor, Social Media Strategist, Social Media Manager, and VP of Community & Social Media, VP of Interactive Development, Director of Knowledge Management, Executive Director, Head of Communities, Social Media Evangelist and VP of Marketing

This may be a self-serving comment, but I think we’ll be seeing more titles like the VP or Director of Social Media and VP or Director of Social Media Strategy as the space matures.  These titles describe how social media is the overarching description of what’s going on and that online community is just a component of a larger strategy.  There will always be community manager roles, but they will report into the Social Media and Social Media Strategy positions.

The entire Community Manager Compensation report can be purchased for $295 from the Online Community Research Network.  You can also download some free research from the Online Community Report website.

BTW, I am in the market for a “sweet” social media strategy and management position.  Check out the About Tom Humbarger tab above if you want to hire an A+ social media person.