About a year ago, the Online Community Research Network took an in-depth look at compensation for community managers finding that online community manager salaries are all over the board. A lot can happen in a year, so they are repeating the study again this year. If you are an online community manager, I strongly recommend taking the survey.
To recap last year’s results, you can read my take on why the data looks nothing like a typical salary bell curve.
Kommein released the results from a more recent survey of community managers, and their survey had very different compensation results.
The Kommein results don’t have the big hockey stick on either side of the chart. I suspect that the demographics were very different between the Kommein survey and the OCRN survey, and I can almost account for the difference by looking at some of the salary influences (technical vs. non-technical, people in junior or mid-level positions vs. executives, etc.), but this is highly speculative. It could also be a factor of the economy, maturation of the community manager as a job, etc.
This is why I am very eager to get the results from the new OCRN survey to see if community manager compensation really has changed significantly over the past year or whether there were enough differences in demographics and methodology to explain the differences in the results.
What should community managers make?
In general, community managers for technical communities (developers, etc.) tend to make more than end user, social communities. Salary also changes significantly depending on whether the role is really more low-end, tactical moderation or something more strategic, like building a new community or revitalizing a troubled community site. Job experience, scope, management responsibilities, location and how well known the person is can also make a big difference in the salary range as mentioned above.
My advice to people about community manager salaries is that community managers should make $50,000 to $150,000 per year depending on the situation. The low end is mostly for people managing smaller online social communities where relatively little subject matter expertise is required and for people doing tactical work (moderation, etc.) The top range tends to include people in higher level strategic positions in corporate environments who head a large organization responsible for the growth and management of multiple communities, or community managers with name recognition or internet celebrity status working in high profile positions as community evangelists.
What do you think online community managers should make?