Businesses considering making the leap into professionally managed social media and SEO might be interested in this article from recruiters ReThink, reporting that salaries for digital and social media specialists have risen by 70% over the last three years.

Experienced social marketers are relatively hard to find. Even more so if you’re looking for someone who’s worked across a range of business sectors and consequently has the flexibility to apply and adapt social strategies to your particular business.

What’s changed in the social marketing field?

As well as responding to a small pool of talent, the personnel cost increase also reflects the increased competition online.

Search Engine Optimisation, and even more so social marketing, are still relatively new concepts; the standard technology adoption curve tells us that the mainstream are just starting to get to grips with it. This both increases the demand for skills (pushing prices up) and the feeling of urgency on the part of the early and late majority as they realise that they’re quite literally behind the curve.

We’re also starting to see better buyer education around social media marketing. The offering of one size fits all, “we’ll send out ten tweets a day and auto-post them all to Facebook too” agencies is finally, in some areas, being met with skepticism from business owners who question how this will help them meet their business objectives. This can only be good for the social media marketing arena as a whole; businesses will need to invest a little more in order to take proper advantage of search and social sites, but will be getting genuine business benefit rather than just paying to be on the bandwagon.

What does that mean for businesses?

As businees owners and marketing managers gain more understanding of what’s involved in social marketing, as well as what it can do, buying patterns are shifting too. Businesses are realising that there is a little more skill to successful social media marketing than just posting to Facebook or Twitter, and the “we can handle that, I’ll leave it to my son / the work experience kid” approach is unlikely to give them optimal results.

At the same time though, marketing managers are realising that outsourcing shouldn’t mean opting out of all involvement with their online strategy. A blend of in house resource and skills with external social media consultancy (for knowledge or experience gaps) and outsourced management (where resource is an issue) will give far better results – and, of course, should provide a more cost effective option than recruiting in a market where salaries are soaring.

What are your experiences? Have you hired an employee recently for social media or search?