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A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

by | Sep 18, 2023 | Public Relations

They’re busy. They’re stressed. And many are doing it all on their own. Yet despite all that, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of them are happy in their jobs. Welcome to the messy reality of working in social media marketing. Still a relatively young gun in the overall marketing field, social media management has evolved into a complex profession where these marketers perform a delicate dance of multitasking and adaptation while juggling a plethora of tasks and responsibilities—from dealing with haters to handling a deluge of comments to keeping up with the latest trends, there’s more to handle than one can reasonably keep track of.

New research from social media management platform Hootsuite examines the challenges faced by these unsung heroes of the digital landscape, providing a deep dive into behaviors in the field and unveiling the state of mind of the modern social media marketer. The firm’s inaugural Social Media Career Report reveals that 66 percent say they have too many different responsibilities, 51 percent say they don’t have enough time to do their job well, and 41 percent say their work has a negative impact on their mental health. 

A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

Since the early stages of modern social media marketing (back when poking was a thing on Facebook) and up until today, the profession has seen significant changes—largely propelled by the rapid pace of social media itself. Undoubtedly, the past couple of decades have been a rollercoaster for social marketers. From the advent of MySpace 20 years ago, to the more recent launches of Threads and BeReal, the role of a social media marketer has truly evolved and matured to become a multifaceted profession. Though there’s still a long way to go, with 56 percent saying their own bosses don’t understand social media.

A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

“Social media managers are arguably more connected to customers’ needs than any other person in an organization—with a real-time pulse on what is happening in our customers’ world. Yet they don’t have a seat at the proverbial table, oftentimes finding themselves in a complex web of overwork, overwhelm, and underappreciation,” said Elina Vilk, chief marketing officer at Hootsuite, in a news release. “As senior marketers, it’s our job to support and uplift our social teams who are on the frontlines of communication with our customers. This report isn’t just about statistics—it’s about providing a tangible resource that sheds light on the realities within this dynamic field in an effort to give it the spotlight it deserves.”

A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

This study, which is also dubbed The Emotional Support Report, delves deep into income, career advancement, mental health, and more—offering insights and guidance social marketers need to make informed career decisions.

“Hootsuite’s dedication to the thousands of social media professionals around the globe who use our product every day goes beyond the realm of tools and solutions we provide—through this report we hope to also help them feel seen, understood, supported, and ultimately uplevel their position within their organizations,” said Irina Novoselsky, CEO at Hootsuite, in the release. “Social teams everywhere are constantly building and fostering relationships with prospects and customers that directly lead to revenue and growth for their organizations—it’s time for leadership teams to recognize their impact as powerhouse marketers.”

A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

Here are a few of the top findings about social marketing careers in 2023:

Social marketers definitely like working in social media

  • 77 percent are happy in their jobs
  • 67 percent say they’re satisfied with their work/life balance
  • 72 percent of those who work remotely full time say they’re satisfied with work/life balance (vs. 63 percent of those who work in-office full-time)
  • 61 percent of respondents see social media as a long-term career

That’s despite feeling overworked and overwhelmed

  • 41 percent say their work has a negative impact on their mental health
  • 57 percent identify as having a mental health condition—and, of those, 42 percent say working in social media has made their condition worse
  • 66 percent say they have too many different responsibilities
  • 51 percent feel they don’t have enough time to do their job well (even though 67 percent work 40+ hours per week)
  • 47 percent don’t think they’re paid fairly (and they’re not wrong—social marketers are paid less than other marketers at a similar level, with the average social market salary sitting at $67,585)
  • 48 percent feel they don’t have enough budget to do their job well
  • 56 percent say their bosses don’t understand social

The sector is prone to some of the issues that more traditional industries have

  • A gender pay gap exists in the social media industry. Even though the majority of people working in the field are women (73 percent), the average man in a social media job makes $91,586 per year, while the average woman makes $69,404.
  • 25 percent plan to quit working in social media in the next year

A look inside the stressful, messy and satisfying career of the social media marketer: What it’s really like to work in this fast-paced field

Download the full report here.

The 2023 Social Media Career Report is based on a survey of 3,842 qualified social media marketers conducted in spring 2023. In addition to the survey, the firm’s team interviewed social pros across different industries, and backed up our data with secondary research.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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