Study indicates much of social media marketing is underfunded, undersupported and unmeasured

Have you ever thought that being a community manager for a huge multimedia conglomerate must be a pretty sweet gig?  It turns out that may not be the case.

Ragan Publications released a fantastic white paper “Structuring a Social Media Team,” which suggests that a lot of the struggles that community managers face are universal agnostic of the size of their organization.  It paints a picture of an overwhelming landscape of social profiles, with little available time to manage them and with no clear metrics or direction for success. 

I’ll get to social media when I finish my other stuff…..

One of the key findings was that the majority of businesses make social media an additional responsibility of current employees (63%).  This substantiates data from the Vocus / Duct Tape Marketing “Path to Influence” paper that had similar findings.  The difference being that while Vocus focused on small and medium sized businesses ($5 mil-$50 mil revenue), Ragan’s cohort examines everything from solopreneurs to $1 bil+ revenue.  Ragan’s survey may be less precise than Vocus, but the fact that they substantiate that most businesses don’t have dedicated social media folk is significant.

Another congruent point between the two studies was that fact that businesses are not spending a lot of money on social media.  Nearly a quarter of businesses spend less than $1000 annually on social media, while the majority spend less than $10,000.  It probably isn’t surprising then that the most popular third-party application for social media management is Hootsuite as the second most-popular (Radian6) costs at least $60K annually.

One more point of interest: the study concludes that the average salary for people working in social media is between $45-60K annually.  I think this is probably a bit high.  In their paper they report that 20 respondents said that they made greater than $125K a year.  This constituted 4% of respondents, which can be extrapolated to understand that each percentage point in that question was answered by five respondents.  So, of 2714 respondents, only 500 responded to the question and it’s questionable if the respondents are exclusively in charge of social media.


One of the most disturbing things about the report was that the overwhelming majority of businesses that measure success by fan count (86%).  The second most popular way respondents measure social media marketing was web traffic, although that is incongruent with the number of businesses doing some sort of inbound marketing.  30% of respondents say they measure social media marketing effectiveness by “sales,” despite the fact that the vast majority of businesses were concentrated on the Facebook and Twitter platforms each with an inconclusive history of generating direct sales.

Add to that the majority of respondents felt that they didn’t have great top-down support and that most felt they didn’t have the manpower or time to properly manage social media.  39% said it wasn’t a priority.  23% said it was overwhelming.

I’m curious about your take on the glamourous world of community management and social media marketing?  Is this study congruent with what you see?

As a post-script – I have to give props to Web Design firm Go-Gulf.  I see so many poor infographics with dubious data-sets (I mentioned one yesterday that reference Weekly World News).  I learned about this study from their infographic, because it was the only data-set used.  It’s rare to find something so useful and accessible – see their graphic below:

How Organizations Structure Social Media Teams
Infographic by-

Photo Credit

Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.
  • Stevie Wilson

    YES!!!!!! so agree- and I see big businesses either ignoring it or approaching it incorrectly — and the small businesses think it’s not worth their time. Engagement, content curation & conversation can take a total of 1 hour or less per day.. if you break it into parts. content curation or creation can be done at night and take about 20 minutes, 30 tops .. if you know where you are going. (I take longer because I talk too much)
    but this is insane when I presented to different companies the same links in proposals because it was clear that they didn’t know much about social media (one admited it immediately) but if you don’t implement this, the time to get your business off the ground will be doubled. Hiring even an intern to handle twitter, facebook to put up content you do the RTs and the content would be great.


  • Regina Pinder-Smith

    Thank you Jim and Stevie! This is monster data- all in one doc!! ((HUGS))

  • Neeraj Thakur

    Pretty insightful data Jim !

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks Neeraj for reading and commenting@