How to pitch a social media promotion

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· 5 min read

Like every social media pro person, I always want a raise.

Social marketers are perpetually underpaid. According to Payscale, the average social media marketing manager makes about $58,000 a year.

My first social gig in 2011? A cool $30,000 a year, no benefits. And while that number has crept up, social pros are still overworked and underpaid, considering how essential the role has become in modern marketing.

That’s why you’ve got to take your promotions into your own hands. And I’m here to walk you through how to get that raise.

Some hard truths about your career journey

As counterintuitive as it sounds: It is not your boss’s job to promote you. It is your job to make your interest clear. It is your job to self-advocate. It’s your job to get your new job.

I felt that eye roll, but it’s true. I’ve heard every excuse:

“I don’t have time to self-advocate with all the work on my plate.”

“I don’t know how to talk to my boss.”

“They should know how much I mean to this company.”

You’re going to keep getting passed over until you decide to take control. It’s like Jack Nicholson said in The Departed: “No one gives it to you—you have to take it.”

So how do you pitch your own promotions?

Step 1: Plant the seed early

You’re most likely to get a raise or promotion during your company’s annual review cycle. Your job is to make sure it’s clear to your boss what sort of money or title you’re hoping for long before that review. These should be discussed in your weekly 1:1s. (If you don’t have 1:1s with your manager, do ’em.) While those 1:1s can veer into a tactical discussion—here’s what I’m working on, etc.—you should also lay the groundwork for those strategic discussions. Mainly about your career. Ask not just how you’re doing, but what comes next in your career: What skills do you need to improve to get that promotion? And demand the same of your manager. Their job is to get you to the next level, not keep you down. They want you to succeed. Set up your 1:1s to go over these big-and-small picture things.

Step 2: Put the position together

When I got my first promotion—$20k more and a fancy “senior” title—the company didn’t even have senior strategists. I was asking them to invent a new seniority. I used a variety of sources to create what was essentially a new job description.

I used Glassdoor to discover the “senior strategist” title, then generated a salary range. I asked for the dead center…and maybe I raised the bottom number a bit to make the dead center a little higher.

With my title and salary down, I moved on to what this job would be. I started with my current social strategist job description, then went around to career pages from competitors and brands I admired to see who had senior social strategists. I picked and chose bits and pieces I liked and frankensteined together a new job description formatted just like my company’s usual JDs. YMMV, but looking at sites like Glassdoor, Payscale, and Indeed, as well as talking to industry peers, will give you information to help you make that pitch.

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby

Step 3: Put together your pitch

Your pitch for a promotion is a comprehensive list of the reasons why you deserve that new position.

Don’t base your pitch on social media metrics, but rather how you’ve contributed to business results—tie yourself to revenue goals, to sales goals. When I made my pitch, I framed my company’s successes through the lens of my work: I brought in the TV show Community on my own, through my own outreach, generating revenue for the company.

  • On my last four projects, I had no senior oversight from social or strategy teams. I was using the director-and VP-level billable hours.
  • I’d begun pitching for the agency, and my strategist title made me look far more junior than the partners and C-suite I was pitching with.
  • One of my campaigns set agency records for earned media value and played a significant role in earning our next 360 account.

If you want more money, show your company how you’ve earned them money or saved them money.

Step 4: The presentation

Proactively schedule a time to present. Make it clear what you’d like to discuss so your boss comes in the right headspace. Then get your materials together. I used a mixture of a deck and printouts of the job I pitched, all with a practiced spiel.

It worked! I got the exact title I asked for, along with close to the salary. Even better? That same title was applied to several other strategists a few months later.

Be confident. Believe in your pitch. You deserve this.

What if the pitch goes wrong?!

That happened to me. At the same company.

After years of success at that senior strategist level, I wanted my first “director” title. I followed my same playbook. I pitched for an associate director of social strategy title and a $10,000 raise. I took my shot via email and…missed.

My boss sent back a snarky email, which upset me. I believe I deserved the promotion. They didn’t. However. It was the motivation I needed.

The next day, I went back through my email and replied to that recruiter I’d ignored. Two months later, I left that job to become a senior director, making $30,000 more than my last gig. Two ranks higher, $20k more than I asked from my former employer.

Timing is everything. Also everything: knowing your worth and your value. As the front line of the marketing world, you are valuable. Go get that bread.

A Social Media Newsletter by Jack Appleby