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As brands navigate the cluttered digital landscape, the cost of social media management is quickly becoming a critical factor in achieving visibility and user engagement. 

Recent statistics underscore this trend, revealing a substantial increase in social media marketing, and according to SmallBizTrends, 90% of marketers stated that social media marketing efforts have increased business exposure.

In an era where every click matters, understanding the financial aspects of social media management is not just a choice but a strategic necessity for brands looking to succeed in the competitive digital ecosystem.

Factors Influencing Social Media Management Costs

Social media management costs can vary widely depending on a range of factors, including the number of social media accounts to be managed, the complexity of the content strategy, and the specific needs of the business. Understanding social media management cost breakdowns requires dissecting the multiple factors that shape the financial landscape for brands online.

Cost of Tools

Social media management software may come with an innate cost (though some are free!) and that cost tends to scale up according to the complexity of your needs. Needing to connect more than 2-3 social media platforms, for example, may be more expensive than just needing to work on 1-2 of them.

Advanced features like keyword monitoring, social listening, AI-powered hashtag generation, and bulk schedulers tend to be associated with platforms that have higher costs. Needing more admin users, integrations/plugins, and customizable reporting are a few other features that affect cost.

The social media platforms themselves tend to be free (Facebook, Instagram, X, Threads) but you may want to pay for additional features, like a business account or verification badge. Before doling out any extra budget, though, I highly recommend taking a social media course to learn all the best practices.

In-House vs. Outsourced

If you’re considering hiring someone in-house, your costs will typically be higher because you’ll be required to pay a base salary plus benefits such as health insurance. By outsourcing your social media presence, depending on what company or freelancers you work with, you can have several team members working together on your social media strategies.

This means you’ll have a mini marketing department or group of freelancers for an hourly rate depending on the social media management package you choose, which is typically less than the salary you’ll pay when hiring one full-time employee.

However, you will typically be one of many clients so the attention of your team will be divided. An outsourced team may not be able to step in on rush projects (or, at least, not without substantial cost) and can never give you 100% of their attention.

Using a Social Media Marketing Agency

For beginners and startups venturing into the digital space, understanding social media management pricing is crucial. Typically, a social media management agency offers various pricing packages, each designed to cater to different levels of need, from basic community management to comprehensive social media marketing services.

The pricing structure of these services often includes several pricing models. Some agencies prefer a retainer model, where business owners pay a fixed monthly fee for ongoing services. This model is particularly beneficial for companies that require consistent social media content creation, such as regular tweets or Facebook page updates. On the other hand, a project-based pricing model might be more suitable for a specific social media marketing campaign or a one-off social media ad.

When considering social media marketing cost, it's important to note that the price range can vary significantly. Some social media marketing agencies offer one-size-fits-all pricing packages, while others provide customized quotes based on the client's unique needs. For new clients, especially those without a well-defined social strategy, a template or a basic social media marketing plan might be a good starting point. This often includes essential services like copywriting for social media posts, basic SEO integration, and general account management across various social channels.

For more established businesses, a comprehensive social media marketing package might be more appropriate. This could include advanced services like targeted content strategy development, detailed community management, and sophisticated social media ad campaigns aimed at a specific target audience. The cost of these services reflects the depth and breadth of the work involved, and social media managers charge accordingly.

Platform Diversity

Reducing your dependency on a single social media platform can lessen negative impacts when the network undergoes significant changes. When diversifying your social media management, you’ll spread ad spending across multiple channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, etc. You’ll have to pay for each platform when implementing ad campaigns on numerous social media channels.

Social media pricing is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Each business, from startups to seasoned business owners, has unique needs. A social media marketing platform can offer a range of pricing structures and packages to suit these varying requirements. Whether it's managing a single Facebook page or orchestrating a full-blown social media marketing campaign, the key is to align the platform with the specific goals and budget of the business.

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Content Complexity

The complexity of your social media campaigns will significantly impact your pricing. It can determine how many platforms you need to use, the size of your audience, and the amount of time and effort your team will dedicate to the strategy.

Do you primarily need short, text-based post ideas based on trend research in your niche? Well, that won't cost as much as needing audio/video for short or long video content on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram Reels. How you use each platform, and the number of platforms you want to be active on, affects how much you pay for content curation and creation.

Cost Breakdown By Social Media Platform

Here is an in-depth examination of costs across multiple social platforms, each with unique use cases/KPIs.

Social media platform Uses, KPIS Typical costs 
FacebookPage likes, link clicks, post engagement, impressions, ads, shares. The average CPC for Facebook ads is $0.44/click. If you’re considering earning more page likes, the average cost per like you can expect is $0.38/like. You can also boost existing posts to show them to more suitable users based on your specific targeting options - Facebook uses the CPM model for boosted posts, and you can expect an average cost of $6.35/1,000 views.
InstagramLink clicks, post engagement, impressions, ads, shares, views, follows, social commerce.For Instagram, you can expect to pay between $0.40 to $0.70/click. If you add a destination URL to your ad, the CPC is typically a bit higher, between $0.50 to $0.95/click; the average CPE campaign can range from $0.01 to $0.05, and CPM strategies can cost between $2.50 to $3.50.
X (formerly Twitter)Link clicks, post engagement, impressions, ads, shares, follows.When promoting a post, you can expect to pay $1.35 to promote a post on average. When promoting an account, you can expect prices anywhere between $2.50 to $4/follower.
LinkedInLink clicks, post engagement, impressions, ads, shares, follows. When utilizing CPC ad models, LinkedIn recommends bidding at least $5.55 to $9.33 - you can also establish a daily budget of a minimum of $10. If you’re using the CPM model, you must submit a minimum of $2/bid, but the platform suggests bidding at least $2.85 to $4.62. For sponsored posts, you can use the CPC model at a minimum of $2.50/bid, but LinkedIn suggests $5.67 to $10.09. Alternatively, you will spend a $10.50 minimum for the CPM model, with a bid recommendation of $18.55 to $28.91, with a daily budget of at least $10 as a requirement.

ROI Considerations & Calculations for Social Media Management Spend

In this section, I’ll explore the return on investment (ROI) considerations that go above pricing, shedding light on how strategic social media management not only incurs costs but also develops a measurable and impactful return for your brand.

Measuring Returns

To determine whether you’re getting a positive or negative social media ROI, analyzing how much you’re spending is a necessity. Your spending doesn’t just involve money; it can include time, content, social media tools, and ad prices.

You can use this formula: ROI = Net value / Cost of investment x 100

However, what counts as a "net value" to you is something you will need to work out for yourself. What are the most essential metrics you are tracking? Where do you hope to grow? Examples of value indicators include:

  • Engagement Rate: This includes likes, comments, shares, and reactions to your posts.
  • Follower Growth: The rate at which your follower count is increasing is a good indicator of brand awareness and appeal.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The number of clicks on the links in your posts compared to the number of impressions.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who take a desired action (like making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc.).
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): The cost of acquiring a new customer through social media campaigns.
  • Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): This measures the revenue generated for every dollar spent on social media advertising.
  • Brand Sentiment Analysis: Assessing the public perception of your brand on social media, whether it's positive, negative, or neutral.
  • Reach and Impressions: Reach is the number of unique users who see your content, while impressions are the number of times your content is displayed.
  • Website Traffic from Social Media: The amount of visitors to your website that come from social media platforms.
  • Lead Generation: The number of leads (potential customers) generated through social media activities.
  • Social Share of Voice (SSoV): Measures how much of the conversation in your industry is about your brand compared to competitors.
  • Content Performance: Analyzing which types of posts (videos, images, blogs, etc.) perform best in terms of engagement and conversions.
  • Customer Retention Rate: The rate at which you are able to retain customers through social media engagement and campaigns.
  • Influencer Performance: If you're using influencers, tracking their performance in terms of engagement, reach, and conversions they bring.
  • Time Spent on Page/Post: The average amount of time users spend on your content, indicating the quality and relevance of your content.

Industry Benchmarks

An industry benchmark in the context of social media management ROI refers to a standard or point of reference against which the performance of a company's social media strategies can be measured. This benchmark is typically derived from the average or median performance metrics of other companies within the same industry.

Expecting your campaign to 100X your competitors' successes might be unrealistic, for example, so you can use industry benchmarks as a standard for setting realistic goals.

Has your biggest competitor gained 200 new followers this month? Go ahead and shoot for 300-400! But trying to set goals that run laps around competitors in an already overcrowded social media landscape just sets you and your team up for disappointment.

Cost vs. Value

When it comes to social media management, having a balance between costs and value is the key to a robust ROI. You can start by identifying KPIs aligned with business goals, ensuring every expense corresponds to tangible value creation, and regularly assessing and adapting strategies based on these insights to foster a dynamic equilibrium that justifies costs and increases sustainable and meaningful growth.

Hidden Costs To Watch Out For

Recognizing and mitigating any hidden expenditures is paramount for navigating social media campaigns with fiscal judgment and strategic anticipation.

Time Investment

The results from a social media management strategy don’t happen overnight. You shouldn’t expect to see your ads on newsfeeds and get new customers immediately. Time doesn’t only mean the work you put into social media strategies; it also requires financial assets.

For example, when running Facebook ads, the longer you run ads, the higher prices you’ll see. No matter your offering, your campaign will require time commitments as well as monetary investments.

Software Tools

Social media management requires a lot of resources, such as marketing software like photo and video editing tools for content creation or data analytics and reporting applications. Typically, you’re required to pay for most of these tools. Also consider the time it takes to learn and excel with each tool, or the cost required to outsource creative work like video editing to a pro.

Crisis Management

Crisis management can be a potential financial aspect that’s often overlooked. The hidden prices associated with navigating unforeseen reputational challenges and crises can extend beyond monetary expenses. It can encompass the toll on customer trust, brand equity, and employee bandwidth.

Adequate preparation and proactive strategies for crisis mitigation are essential to safeguard your bottom line and strengthen your business's resilience in an unpredictable industry.

How To Budget For Social Media Management

Developing a strategic budget for social media management requires a balance of foresight and flexibility. In this section, I’ll unveil actionable steps and considerations that can empower your business to forge a practical budgetary roadmap.

Setting Objectives

Knowing your business’s objectives will help you allocate your budget when creating a social media management campaign. For example, if brand exposure is your goal, you may invest more in paid awareness campaigns and less in generating new content daily.

To help set your goals, refer to your previous year’s goals and funding allocations and determine which strategies were successful, if you had a budget left over or the prices you paid stretched you too thin, and if you want to increase resources to impact new strategies or expand old ones.

Allocating Resources

Social media management strategies will require resources to help plan, implement, and monitor your campaigns. This can include hiring employees, utilizing various social media management services, and investing in training and software. Your team can use social media tools to enhance efficiency, encourage creativity, and provide data that helps your business.

You can use a budget calculator to help strategically utilize your resources, including software with various pricing plans, and avoid overspending on things you don’t need.

Monitoring and Adjustments

Budgeting your social media management campaigns isn’t a one-and-done practice. Monitoring social metrics will help determine if your campaigns are worth the investment, identify if you could have spent less on ads and gotten the same results, and discover optimization opportunities.

You can also use this information to reevaluate and make adjustments to get more out of your budget. You can use marketing budget software to help track your expenses and avoid overspending, track goals, and monitor performance.

Key Takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from this article, if you didn't have time to read the whole thing or just want some jotnotes to take with you.

  • Engagement levels and content complexity can significantly influence costs.
  • Resources allocated to target content creation and real-time interactions can escalate social media management expenses.
  • Outsourcing an agency or freelancers can offer a cost-effective approach with teams managing strategies at a lower cost compared to hiring full-time employees.
  • Diversifying across multiple social media platforms reduces risks during platform changes but amplifies ad spend.

Additional Resources

ABL, “always be learning.” That’s how I stay up to date on new social media and marketing trends. Here are some resources I’ve curated for those who want to stay informed:

People Also Ask

In the following section, I’ll dive into the frequently asked questions about social media management costs and values.

What are some cost-effective social media management tools?

For brands looking for cost-effective, robust social media management tools, you can consider options like Hootsuite and Buffer, which offer comprehensive capabilities for scheduling posts, analytics, and team collaboration capabilities at scalable prices.

Also, tools like Canva offer affordable graphic design solutions, while Later focuses on Instagram scheduling. Platforms such as these empower brands to simplify social media strategies and get the know-how they need without compromising quality or breaking the bank.

How do I calculate the ROI of my social media campaigns?

Calculating the ROI of your social media marketing strategy involves a blend of financial and performance metrics. You can start by identifying the value generated from social media, including sales, leads, conversions, and savings from effective engagement; you can always use marketing attribution software to help. Subtract costs incurred, covering everything from ad spend to team efforts and tools. Then, divide this number by the total costs and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.

The formula will look like this: Social Media ROI = ((Value generated from social media – Costs of social media investment) / Costs) x 100. Percentages above 0 show your strategy generated more value than invested.

Can I start with a small budget and scale up?

Absolutely! Small businesses in the space can start with a modest budget for their social media management campaigns and progressively scale up as they gain insights and traction. Smaller budgets allow you to experiment with different marketing ideas, understand audience preferences, and refine strategies without a significant financial commitment.

As your business gains confidence in what’s working, you can incrementally increase your budget, implement various social media management services, and optimize for higher impact channels and methods, ensuring more efficient and informed allocation of resources while achieving scalable growth in your social media management. Be sure to check out our social media marketing tips for small business for more helpful insights and resources.

Conclusion

As the curtain draws on my exploration of social media management costs for your brand, one resounding truth emerges: the landscape of digital growth is dynamic as well as promising. Understanding the intricacies of cost allocation, platform diversification, and ROI considerations becomes the foundation for savvy strategies in this evolving environment. Ready to embark on your brand’s journey to social media success? Be sure to check out a few management tips to keep your whole social team aligned.

While you're here, stay updated on the latest insights and strategies by also subscribing to The CMO newsletter. Stay informed, stay ahead, and chart a course toward scalable success in the realm of digital marketing.

By Stephanie Hood

Stephanie Hood is an experienced marketing professional and Editor of The CMO. With nearly a decade spent as Marketing Manager at Discover Holidays and Executive Editor at VIVA Lifestyle & Travel, she built her career leading editorial and marketing teams and strategies that turn six-figure budgets into seven-figure profits. She now enjoys connecting with the world's top executives to learn their secrets to business success, and shares those insights right here with her community of like-minded professionals. Curious what she’s uncovered? Be sure to sign up for The CMO newsletter.