Community roles are expanding and job descriptions are improving, but the business of community has a long way to go in establishing consistent compensation programs, roles and responsibilities.

These are the findings of The Community Roundtable’s (TheCR) recently released 2015 Community Careers and Compensation Survey. 

With input from more than 400 community professionals in 23 countries, the report discusses the skills most valuable to those professionals, answers questions about where community sits within the organization, and provides compensation data for roles including director of community, community strategist, community manager and community specialist.

Ted McEnroe
CMSWire caught up with Ted McEnroe, head of content for TheCR, to give us his take on the key findings of the report.

“We saw a lot of things that confirmed our observations from last year,” he said. “There is a ladder of opportunity for community professionals to move up from the community manager role to director of community, or being a subject matter expert and moving out as a community strategist to work with multiple communities.”

4 Key Findings from TheCR

1. Community Professionals Value Strategy

According to the report, all levels of community professionals surveyed named community strategic development as the most valued skill in their profession – proof that “platforms alone do not magically create successful communities.”

Community Compensation Survey Skills

“Strategy is an important part of community so it makes sense that it’s an important skill along the chain,” said McEnroe. “Making sure you have a well thought out strategy is critical to the success of communities.”

Second on the list of importance across all levels was community advocacy and promotion, followed by measurement and reporting for community specialists and strategists, and listening and analyzing for community managers and directors.

Although the similarities in valued skills show that community professionals are becoming more aware of the importance of “good community management” the report notes that it also emphasizes the confusion around roles.

“If the most valued skills of community managers, strategists and directors are virtually identical, it suggests we need to work on clarifying roles and making sure that community managers are getting the credit (and compensation) for the work they do on a daily basis,” notes the report.

McEnroe hopes the data can help bring some clarity to what the roles are in community.

“People still don’t have a great understanding of what it means to be in these roles,” he said. “Community managers are really doing the job of directors.”

2. Strategic, Business and Technical Skills Mean Higher Salaries

Community Compensation Survey Salaries

Survey respondents who named strategic, business and technical skills as most valuable earn the highest compensation, continued the report, while those who most valued engagement and content skills earn less.

These results could be due to the fact that strategic and business skills were named as most important to strategists and directors, who typically earn higher salaries, whereas engagement and content skills are held as more important for community managers and specialists, who typically earn lower compensation.

In the case of technical skills, however, there was no correlation between skillset and community role, added the report. This suggests that, although skills in technical areas won’t get you a spot in higher management, companies are willing to pay more for skills in data analysis, UX/design and systems administration.

3. Community Professionals Get Around

Although churn is high in the community management business, until now there hasn’t been enough data to determine whether those leaving their positions simply changed roles, moved to different companies or left the industry.

“The data suggest that for a good number of professionals, job changes are a symptom of career opportunities for successful community professionals,” uncovered the report.

For example, more than half of survey respondents noted that they were either approached by hiring managers about their position, or they defined and transitioned into their new role themselves.

As for salary based on experience, community professionals with more than five years of experience earned a base salary of more than $100,000 in 2015, with thousands more in bonuses.

4. Communities Are Everywhere in the Organization

Finding a consistent home for communities across different companies is an impossible task, as the report notes that these appear to sit organically within organizations where needed.

Although this supports a community approach to business, the inconsistency makes it difficult for community to define its place and value within the company, the report added.

“The lack of a natural fit for communities within organizations can weaken the voice of the community team in organizational culture and make it harder to define and develop best practices for demonstrating community value,” reads the report.

Communities are making some advancements within the business, however, as companies that have added a position for director of community place them under an organizational vice president or higher on the org chart.

For more insights around community careers and compensation, download the full report (registration required).

Title image by Greg Rakozy