2016 Social Media Salary Report

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Brandy Cross

Last updated February 10, 2017


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Over the past decade, social media has gone from a small, localized fad connecting people with each other over the internet into a global phenomenon that affects almost every part of our lives. Social media platforms like Facebook can boast an active user base of over 1.79 billion, and businesses large and small are struggling to connect and market to those individuals. Social media managers step into this space, to bring marketing a personal touch, creating live engaging content, posts, and advertisements across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and many other social media platforms.

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Social media marketers engage in a wide variety of tasks ranging from planning and creating marketing strategies to implementing them and engaging in outreach programs to build followers, generate leads, and drive traffic to websites. Despite that, social media marketing is not an exact science and many companies have their own requirements and personality, leading to jobs that can vary quite a bit from company to company.

Social media marketers connect with consumers, increase customer lifetime value, and create leads for every kind of business, through interaction, content marketing, and social media strategy. If you're interested in becoming a social media marketing expert, it's also a great field, and one of the fastest growing, at an estimated 9% per year according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. As a social media marketer, your salary will vary depending on where you work, the company you work in, and your skills and experience.

Salary Report for Social Media Marketers by Geographical location

Average salary by geo

Social media marketers are in demand around the globe, but while you can get a job as a social marketing specialist almost anywhere, you can expect a different salary depending on your location.

United States – The average social media marketing specialist salary in the United States is $49,837 per year. However, this salary ranges from $31,718 to $77,684 with persons who have more experience, additional skills, or experience with Web or content marketing earning more. However, this salary does vary depending on your location in the United States. San Francisco residents report earning as much as 25% over the national median average while, barring New York, residents on the east coast are typically paid below the national median.

India – In India, a social media marketer can expect to earn a median of Rs 328,300 ($4,936), but can earn between Rs 174,301($2,620) and Rs 710,006 ($10,672) depending on age, experience, and qualifications.

UK – In the UK, you can expect to earn a median of £25,331($31,393) for work as a social media manager or marketing expert. Salary can vary between £15,809 - £38,160 ($19,592 and $47,293).

Rest of the World – Average salaries for social media marketing vary quite a bit throughout the world, with highs in countries like Australia ($44,733), the Netherlands ($35,593), France ($49,731), and Sweden ($61,546).

Social Media Marketing Salary by Industry

salary by industry

Most industries pay different rates to social media marketers and managers, sometimes depending on the earnings and profit in the industry and sometimes depending on the value the social media marketer brings to the industry.

While reports vary quite a bit, most social media marketers can expect to earn more with jobs at large tech and IT companies. Glassdoor shows that Fortune 500 companies pay an average of $69,000, with Yelp paying $68,169, Google, $69,039, Electronic Arts $69,482.

Moz.com used a survey to show that marketers earn the most in fields including engineering, e-commerce, user experience, and web analytics. Career Trends shows that the median salaries per industry also vary quite a bit. However, these salaries are ranges for persons with 5-10 years of experience, not entry level rates.

  • Schools & Education- $27,070
  • Civic &Social Organizations - $33,820
  • Real Estate - $34,280
  • Support Services - $43,010
  • Information Services - $43,270
  • Performing Arts - $44,380
  • Computer Systems & IT - $44,630
  • E-Commerce - $45,340
  • Software Publishing - $55,030
  • Company Management - $54,910
  • Medical and Hospitals - $56,620
  • Insurance - $59,940
  • Credit Intermediation - $60,140
  • Science & Equipment - $66,800
  • Wholesale & Professional Equipment - $70,930

It's also important to note that your salary will change depending on the size of your company. CIO.com shows that companies with 100 or fewer employees will likely pay an average of $40,900 while those with over 1,000 employees pay an average of $58,400. 

Social Media Marketer Salary Experience

salary by experience

Payscale.com suggests that you will earn an average of $10,000 more per 5-10 years of experience when working in the USA. Their data shows that most individuals start their career earning between $26,887 and $40,000, but move up to earning an average of $57,000 with 5-10 years of experience, $61,000 with 10 years of experience, and up to $72,000 with 15 years or more of experience.

Salary.com suggests that most social media marketers have between 2 and 5 years of experience, and most move on to other roles before reaching 10 years of experience.  Senior social media marketers can move up to roles including marketing director, digital marketing manager, and social media marketing manager, working with a team.

Skills that Affect a Social Media Marketer's Salary

Your education, skill set, and qualifications can greatly affect your salary, although most hard skills are those that can be learned on the job. Unlike many other career choices, personality and soft skills including enthusiasm, creativity, initiative, work ethic, and even your spelling and grammar are likely to be just as important as hard skills.

Why? Many social media marketing greats are self-starters who moved into social media marketing with no qualifications. For example, Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VaynerMedia is one of the most successful social media marketers on the Internet, author of four social media marketing books, and digital entrepreneur has zero qualifications. Instead, he rose to fame marketing his father's company and rose to the forefront of the industry. This doesn't mean you won't need qualifications, but it does mean that your skills and your achievements are more important in this industry.

Social Media Strategy – Social media and marketing strategy are key hard skills for social media marketers with this skill earn an average of $50,076-$51,77, or nearly $2,000 more than the national average.

Communications – A social media marketer with skills in communications can take on more and more advanced roles, qualifying for jobs in communications which sometimes include social media management and marketing.

Web Analytics – Web analytics, or the ability to use analytics programs like Google, Bing, Analog, AWStats, and others can help you to get ahead by proving that you know how to use data to create results. While there is no set salary increase for knowing web analytics, 2% of respondents on Payscale suggested that it increased their salary.

Project Management – Social media requires a significant amount of project management as you plan campaigns, create goals, and make plans to reach them.

Graphic Design Graphic design allows social media marketers to take on two roles inside of their organization, which can greatly influence your pay scale.

PPC – Many social media platforms now integrate advertising platforms into their network, allowing social media marketers to pay for reach and traffic. A strong understanding of Pay per Click advertising or certifications in marketing can be extremely helpful in the industry.

Salary by Demographics

While a disproportionate number of social media marketers are women (71% according to Payscale and 68% according to Social Fresh), women on average earn less than their male counterparts.

salary by demographics

In one study including over 6,000 participants of marketers of all types, Moz.com showed that entry level rates are similar, but there is a significant increase in pay gap for highly experienced and senior marketers.

However, pay doesn't increase much for age alone, unless also accompanied by additional experience. Social Fresh showed that the average social media marketer is 29 and earns between $49k to $51k, while younger, less experienced marketers earn less, and older marketers only earn more if they have the equivalent experience. That's fairly unique for many industries, but works for social media marketing because many companies value the ability to connect with millennials as much as other types of experience.

Social media marketing is a career choice that will continue to grow and improve, with an average growth rate of 9% per year, and multiple career choices for marketers to move into. 

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About the Author

Over the past 6 years, Brandy Cross has worked in the digital niche, lending her experience to companies ranging from Fortune 500s including eBay and SunPower to startups and new thinkers. Today, she works as a freelancer, specializing in writing for digital marketing campaigns and conversion optimization.


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