Office Hours: Social Media & More Church Communication Salaries

Office Hours: Social Media & More Church Communication Salaries

September 20, 2011 by

Every week I hold online office hours and answer questions from folks like you. This week we look at how much church communication social media directors should get paid. (Seems like the earlier office hours question got some of you thinking!) I give my opinion on how to get a vibrant social media campaign started in your church. Take a look and be sure to join me every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. CDT for online office hours!

Hey there, what is a competitive salary for a social media coordinator for a large church? Also, how important is it to have a full time person employed to run the social media for the church?

My answer: Oh boy. Great, great questions.

As for the salary, again the setting of your church determines the range, but I think anything less than $40,000 would be settling.

I’ll underscore that with the fact that the leadership of this church (or any church, really) may not be on board with a social media position yet. That’s OK. Continue to sell the vision and tweak your job description as needed.

As you might guess, I believe it is vitally important for churches to have someone(s) on staff who understand social mediums and the part they play in the larger church communications discussion. For a breakdown on church communication strategy, go here:

Communications Pyramid

I attend a church that gets 5,000+ attendees each weekend. They’re on Facebook and Twitter but don’t utilize it correctly. What are some pointers you can give me to convince my church leaders that a full time social media coordinator is beneficial & even needed?

My answer: Ask for an experiment. Tell them you’ll do the hard work of making the social media work for a month and then you’ll reevaluate.

Do a bang-up job and make sure they know it. Take stats both before and after and show them what you’ve done in that month. Give them real-world stories if you can. Anything to show the value of having a vibrant social media community.

If that is met with resistance, even a little bit, I’d recommend looking for a new place to work. I know you said you attend there, but it sounds like you’d be trying to look for a job there? If they aren’t open to a one-month experiment, your climb up the hill will be long, frustrating and painful. Trust me.

Thanks for the great questions everybody! Hopefully this information will help you get from where you are to where you want to go. See you next time. Oh, and by the way, go get Outspoken for more great insights from other church communication professionals!

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Justin Wise

Justin Wise lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and son. He likes coffee, reading, running and blogging.
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8 Responses to “Office Hours: Social Media & More Church Communication Salaries”

  • Bob
    September 26, 2011

    40 K just to update Facebook? Yes, that’s a great use of tithes. Any church who pays someone that much to Tweet is wasting money.

    • Kevin D. Hendricks
      September 26, 2011

      Really Bob? And I suppose any church that pay someone to stand in front of the church and talk is wasting money.

      Any church that’s willing to pay a staff member to do social media understands the benefits they gain from social media.

      • Bob
        September 28, 2011

        If my church was paying 40K to a person to “do” social media full-time, I would really question their stewardship. I’d rather they pay that much to another pastor or counselor.

        Get a college kid to do it for free. If your communications director has a good strategy in place, it doesn’t make sense to pay someone.

        • Bob
          September 28, 2011

          And, c’mon, you’re really equating the content that is posted on Facebook and Twitter to the content that is preached on Sunday mornings?

          Let’s be honest, know one really “understands the benefits they gain from social media.” We are just told that there are benefits by “experts” and follow them blindly.

          • Justin Wise
            September 29, 2011

            Bob. I understand your hesitation, especially if you believe the only responsibility a social media/digital communications director has is to update Twitter and Facebook. That would be a waste, for sure.

            What Kevin is getting at, and what I also firmly believe, is that investing in a position like this is more than just social media. It’s understanding that the way we communicate with one another is changing fundamentally. That shift is largely due to social media.

            Churches that understand this are saying to the culture, “We care about you and how you communicate. We want to ‘bridge the gap’ and utilize communication methods that work for you, not just us.”

            Unfortunately, your hesitation is all-too-common in church circles, and I believe it’s to the local parish’s detriment. I’d never expect a church to hire someone like this without doing their research first. In my experience, that research never happens. If it did, the research would show how desperately needed these types of positions are within local churches. Instead, most folks just make decisions based on their blind opinion rather than stated fact.

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  • Bob
    September 29, 2011

    I understand what you are saying, I was responding the the question and answer in the blog post.

    Q: What is a competitive salary for a social media coordinator?
    A: I think anything less than $40,000 would be settling.

    I know the way we communicate is changing. That is obvious. But how can we justify this kind of salary when some pastors don’t make this much? I understand the wish to push for greater communication in the arenas that are relevant in the “right now.” To reach out to people where they are. I get that. I don’t get 40K for a social media coordinator.

    Where is this research that shows people come to church or find Christ through social media, anyway? As far as I know, that data does not exist. The real impact of social media is largely unknown. So if churches did do their research, how would they know that social media is where they need to pour in valuable resources, like full-time staff positions, or hard-to-come-by tithe dollars. Show me some data and maybe I’ll change my mind, otherwise, I think the advice, as stated above, is borderline irresponsible.

  • Justin Wise
    September 29, 2011


    It sounds like your problem isn’t with social media, but what I’m suggesting what a social media position at a church should be getting paid?

    Further, you directly state:

    “But how can we justify this kind of salary when some pastors don’t make this much? I understand the wish to push for greater communication in the arenas that are relevant in the “right now.” To reach out to people where they are. I get that. I don’t get 40K for a social media coordinator.”

    Maybe the bigger (and more important) question is, “Why do pastors get paid so little?” Or perhaps, “Why do pastors put up with being paid so little?”

    As for the research, hopefully these posts will convince you that the only “irresponsible” action in the face of these stats is, in fact, inaction:

    Inconclusive? Hardly.

  • Bob
    September 30, 2011

    I appreciate you being open to discussing this topic, and I can see your passion for making church communication more effective by making it more strategic. I’m with you on that. Too many times churches, and any organization for that matter, just do something because they thought it was a brilliant idea, without thinking if it fits into what they are trying to say, who they are trying to reach, and how this will help them reach their goals. I commend you for fighting this constant uphill battle. I’m fighting the same fight you are.

    That being said, I have seen firsthand how churches and organizations will continue their bad communications/marketing habits into social media–signing up for a Facebook page (or numerous pages) or starting a Twitter account simply because it’s the “next thing,” not thinking through how it fits into their overall vision or how they will make use of the tool most effectively. Essentially, all the data you’ve linked to says the same thing: that because a lot of people use social media, a lot of churches do too. It doesn’t say anything about whether this is what they should be doing or if social media engagement works to bring people into a relationship with Christ.

    My disagreement is with your blanket statement of “anything less than $40,000 would be settling.” This is putting the cart waaaay before the horse, and why I said it was borderline irresponsible. Churches should create their communications strategy, create a great website with compelling content that they update regularly, and then, and only then, should they think about how social media will fit into that equation. To make a suggestion that a church pay a full-time person the salary you suggested for the final piece of their communications puzzle is a little unrealistic.

    Regardless of how I feel, social media is not going away and should be taken into account when churches think about how they will engage our culture. Until we have hard data to support the much ballyhooed belief that active social media engagement helps get people through the (church) door, I think we will just have to agree to disagree.

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