The rise of social media managers

More companies and organizations now have social media managers:

Photo by George Milton on

Some 15 years after Facebook and Twitter opened their platforms to the public, social media is an established, mainstream career field. There are academic programs dedicated to its practice. Workers say it’s sometimes still treated as a job for rookies, both through pay grades and interpersonal dynamics from those who think it’s just not that serious. But that’s changing: Those in the field see more bargaining power and more full-time roles than ever before.

Many social-media specific jobs still offer lower salaries than comparable fields like marketing. The average annual salary for marketing managers is $102,496 and $109,607 for marketing directors on Glassdoor, according to a spokesperson for the jobs website. Meanwhile, the average annual salary is $67,892 for social-media directors and $47,908 for social-media assistants…

But Ms. Visconti notes that the field has become more professionalized in recent years. When she got her undergraduate degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2015, she says, “It definitely wasn’t seen as a career path.” Today, following work for clients including Hyatt and Puma, she believes she can dedicate her whole career to social media. “What I love about it is that it’s the way to connect most directly with consumers,” she says…

“In the beginning, it was all about the need for businesses to create content specifically for social media, which was an insight that I had somewhat early,” he says. “Now it’s much more about understanding how algorithms work, and I just don’t understand things like what time of day to publish a TikTok video on a deep level.”

My colleague Peter Mundey and I found similar things in our 2019 study “Emerging SNS Use: The Importance of Social Network Sites for Older American Emerging Adults.” These 23 to 28 year olds found that social media could be part of their work life. We found: “Mentions of job-related activities from the Wave 4 respondents included corresponding with potential employers via Facebook, making professional connections through LinkedIn and showing work-related activities and progress through other SNS platforms, helping firms promote themselves via social media and responding to other users, and even working for social media companies.” We found that this work was not necessarily for everyone, even if older emerging adults were regular social media participants.

There could also be an interesting study in here about the development of a new career, role, and/or industry. Marketing, for example, is well known and emerged over decades in the twentieth century. Social media manager is new, utilizes newer technology, is more familiar to younger members of the workforce, and is developing its own professionalization processes. Will it firmly established in terms of status, pay, and training within a decade or two and how will that happen?

Realtors argue their guild needs more professionalization

Real estate is an important part of the American economy but a recent report from the National Association of Realtors suggests realtors need more training:

In an unusual move for a major American trade association, the million-member National Association of Realtors has commissioned and released a frank and sometimes searing assessment of top challenges facing its industry for the next several years. The critiques hit everything from the professionalism and training of agents to the commissions charged consumers, and even the association’s ?leadership.

-“The real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical and/or incompetent agents. This knowledge gap threatens the credibility of the industry.” Ouch!

-Low entry requirements for agents are a key problem. While other professionals often must undergo extensive education and training for thousands of hours or multiple years, realty agents need only complete 70 hours on average to qualify for licenses to sell homes, with the lowest state requirement for licensing at just 13 hours. Cosmetologists, by contrast, average 372 hours of training, according to the report.

-Professional, hard-working agents across the country “increasingly understand that the ‘not-so-good’ agents are bringing the entire industry down.” Yet there “are no meaningful educational initiatives on the table to raise the national bar …”


This is a good example of maintaining professional standards, a key activity of many business associations. (For an award-winning sociological read on trade associations and a book for which I did a small amount of research work, see Solidarity in Strategy: Making Business Meaningful in American Trade Associations.) Keeping track of the actions of thousands of members is a difficult task. The NAR has the ability to bestow the name REALTOR®. Upping the standards with harder tests and stricter requirements has been done by lots of groups in order to improve their status.

But, this might also have some negative consequences:

1. Might it encourage more people to bypass realtors all together? This is easier than ever with the Internet.

2. If I remember correctly, the average age of realtors has increased in recent years. Might this simply increase that?

3. Might this issue be solved in other ways like if realtors worked within agencies that stressed standards or through mentoring programs that offer benefits for both parties?

4. Do realtors want more regulatory oversight like other groups – such as cosmetologists? This may help up their status but could lead to more hoops to jump through.

$53 million was embezzled from Dixon, Illinois in part because the community had a commission form of government

Rita Crundwell is accused of embezzling $53 million from the small community of Dixon, Illinois. In this account of how this happened, an argument is made: Crundwell’s embezzlement was made easier because Dixon operates under the commission form of municipal government.

Something else—ominous in retrospect—summons a small-town feel: the unusual system of governance. Since 1911, Dixon has been run by the commission form of government, an old model used by only about 50 of the 1,300 municipalities in Illinois. Power is divided among five people: a mayor and four part-time commissioners who oversee their own fiefdoms (public property, public health and safety, streets and public improvements, and finance).

The positions pay a pittance—the mayor makes $9,600 a year; the commissioners, $2,700 each, according to the annual budget—which means that most officeholders juggle their duties with full-time jobs and spend limited time at City Hall. The owner of a carpet and flooring store served as finance commissioner for a number of years. He was succeeded by a business teacher and athletic coach down at the high school, Roy Bridgeman, who served for more than two decades. As for Mayor Burke: he runs his own real-estate firm.

The problem is that “the commissioners are just citizens,” says Jim Dixon, a retired attorney who served as mayor from 1983 to 1991 and is a descendant of the town’s founder. “Some of them may not always have been qualified for the areas they were elected to oversee.” Dixon says he pushed, unsuccessfully, to change to the far more common city manager model of government.

Still, the commissioner system made for a neighborly and easygoing approach and seemed to accomplish the goals that gave rise to its adoption in the first place: placing a check on the power of the mayor’s office and curbing the possibility of corruption. It didn’t hurt that it also saved the city money on the salaries that a professional city manager and staff would command.

Some background to this story: the commission form of government was particularly popular over 100 years ago. However, many communities have long shifted to newer forms of government that feature a city manager. One reason for this was to avoid the outsized influence commissioners could have if they had more control over one area. In suburbs, this shift to hiring a city manager often happened in the decades after World War II when both established and new suburbs faced new issues and complexity associated with growth. For example, a suburb like Naperville was swamped with requests for development and moved through the 1950s and 1960s toward more professional city government and urban planning. The post-World War II also featured a movement toward professionalization of tasks in communities that were once simply enough to hand over to trusted local officials. Today, city managers are well-trained officials who often move up the ranks to larger and larger communities as they demonstrate their abilities. Of course, as this article mentions, hiring a city manager and more professionally-trained city employees does cost money. (See this Wikipedia article on the council-manager form of government for more information.)

So will Dixon now move to having more professionals in local government? Part of the appeal of living in a small town is the trust residents and officials have in each other but it will be interesting to see if there are major responses to this breach of trust.

The Sociology of Funeral Service

Through the short history of this blog, I have highlighted a number of sociology courses that tackle interesting topics:

1. The course Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame is taught at the University of South Carolina and drew a lot of media attention.

2. Taught by a sociologist, the course Baseball in American Society is offered at Florida Southern College.

3. Recently, I highlighted a sociologist who teaches the Sociology of Self-Improvement.

4. I offer an addition to this list from Malcolm X College in Chicago: The Sociology of Funeral Service. Here are some insights about this industry:

Women have entered many educational and professional fields in recent decades. But the nurturing-woman stereotype seems to explain why more and more female students have decided to study funeral service. They have grown from a small minority to a small majority at the country’s 56 mortuary science programs.

In 2010, 56.8 percent of new enrollees were women, virtually unchanged from 56.9 percent in 2006, according to the American Board of Funeral Service Education.

The article goes on to talk about women still encounter some issues even as more women enroll in this field. On the whole, I would think that there is a lot of sociology that could apply to this field, particularly cultural ideas about death, emotions, aging and the lifecourse, gender, family, and race.

A few additional questions come to my mind:

1. While the article seems to suggest that women would be particularly well-suited for this field because of the “nurturing-woman stereotype,” it is also interesting to note that it has historically been a male field. Why was this the case and how exactly is this changing in the field?

2. It is interesting that this is now an academic field of study known as “mortuary science.” How has this field become professionalized over time? And has this shift toward a science helped lead to the increase of female students since women are now getting more degrees?