The question that we get most often about social media marketing is how much it costs — which makes sense. Like so many major decisions in business and in life, the major constraining factor tends to be your budget (that is, if it isn’t time).
So how much does it cost to outsource social media marketing?
The shortest, easiest (and, admittedly, the least satisfying) answer to this question is this: it varies – a lot. Depending on the experience level of the social media agency you hire, the size of your business, the suite of services you require, and a bunch of other factors, professional social media marketing can cost you anywhere from $1,000 per month to $20,000 per month.
This kind of wild discrepancy in cost can make things extremely difficult for business owners and marketing managers who are contemplating outsourcing their social media marketing. The headache of trying to figure out which social media agency to hire, which services you need, and how much money you should spend can cause a lot of anxiety — and even decision-paralysis, which can be deadly when you’re trying to grow a brand.
That’s why we wrote this guide: to give you a clear breakdown of all the information that you need to make the best decision for your business. Let’s start with the question that likely brought you here in the first place and we’ll try to give you a better picture:
How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?
Social media marketing can be broken down into different buckets, generally by channel and by services. Let’s take a look at each:
How Much Does Marketing With Twitter Cost?
Launching a new Twitter account, complete with setup and outsourcing content creation/consumer interaction (all 140 characters at a time), costs an average of $2,000-$4,000 per month – and that’s just for Twitter. With that said, the total price range was $1,000-$7,500 per month.
What if you already have an existing Twitter account, but need some help to take it to the next level? Restructuring an existing Twitter account with “limited coaching” to achieve client goals is still going to cost you between $1,000-$2,500 per month, with some charging as much as $4,000 per month.
We manage social media for several national brands and have developed some truly impressive case studies over the years (a favorite: the tweet that turned into a client being featured in Wired magazine). On multiple occasions, we’ve gotten hashtags we’ve created to trend nationally, and we are very familiar with the amount of customer service, outreach and PR work that’s required via Twitter in particular. Long story short, we know what we’re talking about – and unless you’re a HUGE brand with a significant number of customer service issues that need to be handled via Twitter (think: an airline), there’s no need to spend $4k per month on Twitter alone.
Cost of Marketing with Twitter
How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?
The cost of marketing with Facebook can run a bit higher than that of Twitter alone. To set up a new Facebook account and provide limited ongoing training to business partners, online PR agencies charge an average of $2,500-$5,000 per month, with some going as high as $9,000. However, for most businesses it’s a good idea to bundle these two together (and probably to add on a third and even a fourth channel), which will not only help you increase your audience, but can get you a deal on the price as well.
At TCF, we charge between $4,000 to manage 3 social media channels, including custom graphics, hosting Twitter chats, live tweeting events, creating and managing Twitter lists, and more.
How Much Does Marketing With Other Social Media Channels Cost?
When it comes to social media marketing, Twitter and Facebook are definitely the top two options for businesses. If you’re just getting started, or if you’re working within a tighter budget, we’d definitely recommend that you start there. Every business is different, but from what we’ve seen with our clients Twitter and Facebook tend to provide the greatest ROI, and customers in general will expect that a business has an active profile on both platforms.
However, if you’d like to also do social media marketing on channels like Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and SnapChat, those additional channels can easily cost you $1,000 or more for each one that you add on. That’s a big investment, so you obviously want to be really strategic about which social media platforms you choose and figure out what your path to ROI will be by adding each additional channel.
Insider Tip: Not every channel is a good match for every business, so when you’re making your decision, be wary of any social media agency that tries to throw the kitchen sink at you. Unless you’re a major, mass market brand (and honestly, even if you are) chances are you don’t need to be on every social media channel under the sun. Here’s a quick look at some of the things you should consider:
Instagram is a highly visual platform that focuses almost entirely on images. If you’re a fashion brand, a company that restores classic cars, or any other kind of business that can consistently create visually compelling content, then Instagram should definitely be on your radar. However, if you’re an accountant, probably not so much.
Pinterest is another image based platform that allows users to curate and organize images from all over the web in one place. We’ve seen this be a valuable platform for all kinds of different clients, but it’s not for everyone. One of the things that makes Pinterest unique is its demographic makeup, which is predominantly upper-income and female. If that’s your target audience, you definitely want to give Pinterest a look.
SnapChat is the cool new kid on the block, and with over 100 million daily users, lots of brands and businesses are looking to leverage this platform as part of their social media marketing strategy. However, of all of the social media platforms, this one is by far the most idiosyncratic. SnapChat allows users to send out images and 15-second videos to their followers that disappear either as soon as they are viewed or after 24 hours — which is obviously not ideal for most social media marketing purposes.
Also, without the more traditional methods of tagging, hashtagging, linking to content, and responding en masse to trending conversations, growing an audience on SnapChat can be a daunting task. While we’ve seen brands make it work with this platform, if you’re just getting started with social media marketing, this probably isn’t where you want to start.
Make sure that you learn more about the social media marketing channels that you sign up for before signing on the dotted line. And if you feel like a social media agency is trying to push services on you that you don’t need, walk away.
Cost of Social Media Marketing Strategy
How Much Does Outsourcing Social Media Advertising Cost?
If you’d like to include paid advertising in your social media management package, that will cost extra, as well. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have paid advertising platforms available, and when done correctly, these social media ad campaigns can pay off big for your brand, with ROI ranging from growing your following to increasing website traffic and sales.
How much should you expect to spend on social media advertising costs? In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from between 10%-20% of the total ad buy to have an agency manage your campaigns for you. If you have a larger budget, you can usually negotiate a percentage on the lower end of that range. There’s also usually a minimum monthly social media ad management fee (ours is $250), so you want to make sure that you’re really ready to make the investment before you take the plunge.
Insider Tip: The reason that paid advertising can be so effective is that it allows you to target very specific audiences with your ads, which can lead to much higher levels of conversion. However, as with anything in the realm of social media management, social media advertising can prove to be a lot more complicated than it sounds.
Do you know what a Facebook pixel is? Do you know how to target your ads to people who have accessed specific content on your website? Do you know the right image dimensions for a Facebook ad and the best image-to-text ratio to ensure that your ads are approved? If you don’t, you’re not alone.
You can practically get an MBA in this stuff for the amount of time that it can take to learn everything you need to know. That’s why, unless you have a significant amount of time to invest in getting it right, the best way to ensure that you’re getting ROI for your social media ad buy is to bring in a team who has the experience and expertise to do the job right. For a lot of brands, outsourcing social media ad management is the best option.
What About Social Media Strategy?
Here’s something to consider: all of the prices that we listed above include status updates and interacting with customers. You know what it doesn’t include, though? Strategy.
Some agencies charge a minimum of $4,500 per month for Facebook and Twitter management, but won’t include any strategy behind the efforts. That costs extra, as if asking for social media strategy is like adding for guacamole to your order. We’re of the opinion that guac should always come with the order, which is why we include strategy as part of our social media marketing packages (and why wouldn’t we? The alternative is to charge for working with no strategy, which makes no sense).
Now, we’ll admit that the strategy is the most important part — you’ve got to go into social media marketing with a game plan and a list of goals, or you’ll never achieve the ROI you’re looking for. This is the reason you don’t want to outsource your company’s social media management to the intern who can’t stay off Snapchat. Online PR agencies know this, so they make sure to charge you for their expertise.
Cost of Paid Social Media Advertising
How Much Does Social Media Strategy Cost?
It’s easy to get fake famous on social media channels, and apparently it’ll only cost you $6,800. Although it may sound impressive to have 1 million “likes” on Facebook, your charade will be exposed the second somebody checks out your page and sees that nobody ever likes, comments or shares your content.
Creating a comprehensive strategy for social media marketing and outsourcing all work for all channels (with a minimum of two social networks) costs anywhere from $3,000-$20,000 per month, with the industry average settling between $4,000-$7,000 per month. If you want the social media agency to start the accounts from scratch and consult on a 4- to 12-month contract, you’ll pay between $3,000-$15,000 per month.
What do they mean by channels, minimum of two? That’s just a fancy way of saying that the cost includes both Facebook and Twitter…and there will likely be an upcharge for adding any other channels.
Insider Tip: If you’re doing market research to figure out your customer/client’s persona(s) and preferences, it’s possible to legitimatize a $20,000 spend to gather the background info and data points necessary to execute a killer social media campaign. But otherwise, you can probably get much of the same for less money.
Also, most of the “strategy” aspect of social media carries over from client to client. For instance, the tactics we use for a B2B client in the business coaching space aren’t all that different from the tactics we use for a B2B client in the cloud computing space. In both cases, we focus on using Twitter as a PR tool to reach out to journalists who cover the space, interact with them, get on their radar and prime them for when we send an actual pitch. This way, they know who the client is before we ever officially contact them on the client’s behalf.
Additionally, in both B2B cases we also use Twitter as a way to engage with thought leaders in the space – we often end up getting them to write guest content for the client’s blog or quotes that we can use in a post we write ourselves. For both the business coach and the cloud service provider we also focus on interacting with current and potential clients, share client insights on industry news, etc. In fact, we use most of these same social media marketing tactics in the B2C space as well.
Before writing the retainer check, ask yourself what you’re really getting for a $20k monthly spend on strategy alone. Are you getting a unique social media marketing strategy tailor made for your business, or a slightly customized version of a tried-and-true method for achieving social media success? Chances are, it’s the latter – and for good reason, because they’ve got a formula that consistently works! But don’t let yourself be charged extra for creating a wheel that’s already been invented.
Cost of Instagram Advertising
How Much Does an Audit of Twitter and Facebook Cost?
What if you just want an audit of your current social media strategy, with a few pointers on how to improve? Better bust out the AmEx, because it’s going to cost you anywhere from $2,000-$10,000. The lower- to mid-range of this spectrum seems reasonable, especially if you add in the cost of social media training and competitive analysis. The only way to justify a $10k spend is if you represent a large company with many digital assets (and competitors with similar online profiles) and/or the social media consultant actually flies out to your office and does an in-depth, in-person training over the course of a couple of days.
Insider Tip: If you decide to go for an ongoing social media package at a monthly rate, do not let the agency charge you extra for an audit of your current social activity. Here’s the thing: any reputable social media marketing agency is going to audit your social channels in the process of coming up with a proposal, developing a strategy and then executing it. The work is being done anyway, and for the most part it doesn’t take a whole lot of time – if you don’t include competitive analysis, a social media audit can be done in an afternoon.
Does My Business Need A Social Media Strategy?
Our answer is an emphatic YES. Investing in social media marketing without having a strategy is like buying a car and not knowing how to drive. It’s like trying to use a gas grill without a propane tank. It’s like putting a sweet new entertainment center in a house without electricity. We think you get our point.
Social media platforms are a tool that can help you market your business, but unless you know how to use it to generate tangible ROI for your business, you’re only setting yourself up to waste time and money. And the truth is that social media strategy is a lot more complicated and involved than you probably think.
Why Does Social Media Marketing (And Strategy) Cost So Much?
There’s a pretty common misconception that social media marketing is a quick and easy way to market business, because anyone can set up a Facebook page, right? But social media marketing is so much more than setting up profile and sending out some tweets. From audience and list building, to the right image sizes to use for each platform, to which kinds of posts convert the best, to leveraging your social media posts to create PR opportunities…there is an endless and ever-changing list of skills, tools and best practices that social media marketers have to stay on top of in order to consistently provide ROI to their clients.
We could try to explain all of the incredible things that an expertly planned and implemented social media strategy can do for your business, but when it comes to this sort of thing, we’re all about the show instead of the tell. Here are just a few of some of our favorite social media marketing case studies that we’ve put together over the last few months, to give you an idea of what’s possible when you hire a social media agency that’s serious about strategy:
Nationally Trending Hashtags
When it comes to hosting Twitter Chats, we literally wrote the book (or at least the comprehensive guide), and our clients get the benefit of that knowledge each and every month. Here’s a screenshot of the analytics report from a recent Twitter Chat hosted by our Senior Account Executive Jason Myers for Fairtrade America:
Cost of Social Media Management: Twitter Chat
The hashtag for monthly Twitter Chats that Jason hosts for Fairtrade America consistently ranks in the top 50 on Twitter, and for this chat it made it to #25. That combined with the 195 participants, 3,978 tweets in one hour, and 7,193,278 timeline deliveries translated into a huge win for the client.
Engaging With Influencers And Celebrities
One of the best ways to build your audience and grow your reach is to engage with industry influencers and celebrities — but that’s obviously a lot easier said than done. It takes a ton of social listening, a killer instinct for making connections, and (admittedly) some pretty pricey PR tools to get the job done.
Our Senior Account Executive Alayna Frankenberry gets these kinds of high-profile engagements for her client Astroglide all the time. Just check out what happened when actor and former NBA star Rick Fox mentioned Astroglide on a recent episode of Celebrity Name Game:
Cost of Social Media Marketing: Influencers
Alayna was alerted to the mention through one of our fancy PR tools (something that someone without access to those tools likely would have missed) and immediately jumped on making the scene from the show into a gif. The gif was then shared on Astroglide’s account with a mention directed at Rick Fox’s account. Then the magic happened:
Cost of Social Media Marketing: Twitter
And that, my friends, is how a couple hours of work and a little creativity can make your brand buddy-buddy with a celeb (or TV show). We’ve worked similar magic to get Chris Harrison, since we live tweet The Bachelor/ette/In Paradise franchise on behalf of Astroglide.
Chris Harrison ✔ @chrisbharrison
#Respect RT @Astroglide: Happy #MCM to our eternal reality tv crush @chrisbharrison! #TheBachelorette
12:02 PM – May 23, 2016
1 1 Reply 26 26 Retweets 145 145 likes
Twitter Ads info and privacy
Securing Earned Media Coverage
Then there’s the time we were at CES with a client, live tweeting the event. While monitoring Twitter for keywords based around the event, we saw and responded to Mat Honan of Wired:
Cost of Social Media Marketing: Twitter
This turned into the client being featured in Wired, with a glowing review of their product.
These are just a few examples of what a solid, well-executed social media strategy can do. When done right, social media marketing can help to generate traffic to your website, build your audience, foster positive and meaningful engagement with your customers, and even pay off with earned media coverage. Sure, it’s expensive, but if you can find a team that can consistently deliver ROI, it is one of the best investments you can make in your business.
When It Comes to the Cost of Social Media Marketing, We Know Our Stuff
This comprehensive guide on the cost of social media marketing has been literal years in the making. We’ve included everything that we’ve learned from our years in the industry and have gone through great pains to make sure that all of the information that we’ve included here is accurate and up-to-date.
We’re confident that this is the single best resource about the cost of social media marketing that you’re going to find anywhere online. The price ranges for social media marketing services we’re reporting in this post has been sourced online, as well as with our own (transparent – see below) pricing and the price lists of other agencies we’ve worked with (not as transparent – to get this info yourself you’ll have to sit through three conference calls and a proposal).
Our colleagues in the field and other industry leaders seem to agree, as this post has been linked to and shared all over the web. Here are just a handful of examples – check them out, because they’re also great resources themselves:
Which Online Marketing Strategy Has The Best ROI? — written by Jayson DeMers for Inc.
Six Figure Consultant: 4 Proven Services Every Blogger Can Offer to Make Money Online — written by Neil Patel for NeilPatel.com
How to Spend a Social Media Budget — written by Kevan Lee for Buffer
What Is the ROI of Your Social Marketing? — written by Mark Willaman for HRmarketer
How to Determine Your Social Media Marketing Budget — written by Nick Rojas for The Next Web
The 5 Biggest Social Media Lies Ever Told — written by Brad Smith for AdEspresso
4 Steps To a Profitable Social Media Strategy Using Visuals and Illustrations — written by Michael Chibuzor for Freepik
ROI Is Not Just Money Earned But Money Saved — written by Corey Padveen for Social Media Strategies Summit
All of this is to say that, if you’re looking for the most accurate and comprehensive information about the cost of social media marketing, you’re definitely in the right place.
Source: Content Factory