According to a recent Dachis Group and the Social Business Council survey, executives in internal social business roles, including knowledge management and IT, continue to earn more than social business execs in marketing and corporate communications. Why is internal social business worth more than external marketing?

Internal v. External Social Business

To be clear, “internal social business” refers to the practice of integrating Web 2.0 technologies such as social bookmarking, social networking, and wikis into the enterprise, while “external social business” refers to the practice of utilizing social networks to interact with prospects, customers, and partners. With that out of the way, we can start to examine the characteristics of the two disciplines, according to the survey results

Where they work

Forty percent of internal social business professionals work at firms with10,000 to 50,000 employees. A majority of those are from firms earning between $US 1B - $US 100B in revenue a year.

For external social business professionals, 25% work in work at firms with10,000 to 50,000 employees. A majority work for firms earning between $US 100M- $US 500M in revenue a year.


Roles & Responsibilities

As to what their role is, 42% of internal social business respondents claim they are independent contributors in their firms, while 39% said they are managers.

For external social business executives, 38% said they are managers, with 22% indicating they are individual contributors.

For both internal and external executives, 36% have been in their current position for two to three years. A majority (69%) have had their posts for less than three years. 

Job Funding

Nineteen percent of internal social business professionals said corporate communications funds their current position, while more external social business operations (24%) are funded by corporate communications. Most external social business is funded by marketing, while most internal social business is supported by IT.


Forty-two percent of internal social business professionals claimed a salary between $US 100K to $US 150K annually, while only 22% of external social business professionals did -- most indicated that their salary was between $US 50K to $US 75K annually.


Putting it All Together

While the survey results doesn't explicitly reveal why the pay gap exists, we can extrapolate our own reasons. First, internal social business relies on fostering collaboration and community around those that you work with - the more employees, the more difficult it can be. It requires finding the right people to help organize all the information created and shared within the enterprise. Coincidentally, if you have a lot of employees, chances are you have more revenue. More revenue means the prospect of larger salaries. For external social business, you don't necessarily need a lot of employees to have customers, which make up your external social networks. Additionally, the less revenue you take in, the less you have to pay your employees. 

That's a fairly logical evaluation, but if all things were equal -- are internal social business professionals really more valuable? Possibly -- but it would really depend on how valuable the information gleaned from internal networks is to the company. While no one is saying that external social business isn't valuable, it may behoove companies to consider how much information collected from external facing communities is put back into the company to spur innovation and new product development. 

Of course, to thrive, you need both internal and external social business professionals to work together -- as information should flow seamlessly through workflows so everyone can benefit.