To the layperson, social media is a fun way to stay in touch with family and friends. To businesses it’s a digital portal into the lives of some 3.196 billion active social media users across the globe. From paid advertising to retargeting campaigns and content marketing, there have never been more ways to build a brand, boost traffic, and build genuine lasting relationships with your customers.
So, how much does it cost to run a social media campaign?
A common statistic floating around the web suggests the average cost of a social media campaign falls between $4,000 to $7,000 per month, with costs rising upwards of $20,000. A bit more than you expected? Remember, there’s a lot more to social media marketing than posting pictures or firing off a few tweets. In this article we’ll breakdown the costs that go into a social media campaign so that you can build your own strategy that’s scaled to your needs.
Cost factor #1: The scope of your social media campaign
Your typical social media campaign can be divided into four main branches:
- Social Engagement. Sharing content, responding to comments and messages, liking posts, hosting digital events, and otherwise interacting with your target market.
- Content Creation. In order to have content to share across your marketing channels you must create it—white papers, press releases, blog posts, infographics, viral videos, images, and other media.
- Paid Advertising. Many social platforms provide some form of paid advertisement that you can use to directly drive traffic to your business—Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, Pinterest’s Promoted Pins, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, etc.
- Data Analytics. Measurement is the key to improvement. You’ll need to invest in the back-end infrastructure that aggregates, tracks, and measures the successes and failures of the other three branches.
The first step in any budget is to get a bird’s eye view of your project. In the context of social media that means asking yourself questions like:
- How many marketing channels (social platforms) will your business engage?
- How much content will you need to create?
- What type of media (videos, blog posts, images) will you need to create? Will you need graphic design, video production, or a photographer to create assets?
- Will you employ paid advertising (Facebook Ads, Google AdWords, etc.)?
The greater output you want in each branch, the more it’s going to cost. Simple enough, right? Don’t worry—we’ll cover some of these in greater detail in the sections to follow.
Cost factor #2: Project management
With the last section’s “bird’s-eye view” in mind, it’s easy to see how a social media campaign can have a direct impact on your management overhead. You’ll want someone to define the goals and metrics, coordinate the development of digital assets, and build and manage an active social strategy that will ensure you get a high ROI. You’ll likely want the help of a project manager. This individual can take the captain’s seat and steer your various efforts from social engagement, to content creation, to paid advertising campaigns, and data analytics to ensure you achieve the results you’re looking for.
Cost factor #3: Organic vs. paid advertising
Organic vs. paid—it’s a clash as old as social networks…or is it? It turns out that 86% of marketers mix paid and organic tactics into their social strategies. Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the classic debate has long been settled, at least for Facebook. A 2014 study by Ogilvy found that organic reach fell to 2% in February 2014. So why do companies still invest in organic social? Advocacy. It’s a uniquely organic phenomena where a brand is so successful, its customers will, as Moz puts it, “shout about your brand from rooftops, sharing their opinions and experiences with their networks.” What does that mean for you in 2018? For the best results, you’ll want to invest in both.
Organic Tactics: Content Marketing
In the organic path we have content marketing: if it’s genuinely good people will share it. That means you’ll need to budget for the type of content you wish to create. Want a high production video? Hire a professional videographer. Want great infographics? Hire a talented graphic designer. Need quality articles? Hire a quality writer.
Paid Tactics: Ads
Cost-per-click (CPC), Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), Cost-per-view (CPV), cost-per-action (CPA), these are the big four metrics you’ll want to familiarize yourself with when you set your budget for your social ads. You may want a PPC (pay-per-click) specialist to make sure you net a solid ROI from your advertising budget. Keep in mind that when you engage remote talent, you’ll provide the budget for paid advertisements which will be in addition to their contract fee (if they didn’t choose to include it).
Cost factor #4: Execution
You’ve got a website, and you’re looking to leverage major social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as part of your inbound marketing funnel and lead generation system. You need someone to post content, reply to comments, like posts, reach out to influencers, and otherwise represent your brand across major social sites. You may consider hiring a social media manager. They’ll keep your audience engaged with relevant info and updates about your business, handle customer questions or feedback, monitor analytics, respond to trends, and otherwise manage your social marketing channels.
Hourly rates charged by remote talent vary greatly, but $55 to $200 per hour is a good place to start.
Cost factor #5: Measure, report, improve
Working on the back-end of your entire social media campaign should be a robust, data analytics recording system that tracks what works and what doesn’t so that you can fine-tune your marketing efforts and maximize your results. How does one get started? Whether your app is on web or mobile, social APIs make it easier to manage your data analytics. Not a developer? There are plenty of tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social that specialize in aggregating analytics across multiple social platforms into one convenient dashboard. Consider engaging a data analyst with a background in social media to help you transform all that data into actionable insights that can be used to improve your social media marketing campaign.