One of the advantages of social media marketing is that it’s free — or is it? Sure, you can create a social media account for your business, and post whenever you happen to find the time, without spending any money. But if this is your approach towards social media for your business, then you’re not making the most of a good opportunity. Social media has become a very important marketing tool for businesses over the years, and if you’re not already investing in social media, you need to start. It’s important to recognize and understand the cost of social media marketing before you start investing, though.
Outsourcing social media
Outsourcing social media management can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month. The cost of outsourcing social media marketing is usually plain to see. You pay a firm a set monetary amount to do your social media each month. Once you and the social media firm agree on a list of services and a price, you know exactly what you’re going to get and exactly how much it costs. Typically, this means that you don’t have to worry about developing or implementing any strategy. You can just hand over the reins to your social media account, and let them do the work for you.
Sometimes business owners choose to work cooperatively with the firm that does their social media, providing images, content, or copy. This collaborative approach can produce really good results, but it’s important to be realistic about how much time you can actually contribute. This approach also makes the cost of your social media marketing more difficult to define. Often, business owners are excited about contributing to social media in the initial stages, but then the excitement wears off, or they realize they simply don’t have enough time to work on their social media.
Many people find that running their business gets in the way of actually putting time into social media. You don’t want the success of your social media marketing strategy to hinge on the work that you do on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram if you don’t actually have time for it.
Doing your social media in-house
Some business owners feel comfortable enough with social media that they choose to do it in-house. Or maybe they have an employee who spends a lot of time on Facebook, so they put him or her in charge. So what’s the cost of in-house social media marketing? It’s not zero.
Here are some things that factor into your overall cost.
- Developing a strategy (or you may outsource this part)
- Time involved in creating posts and campaigns
- Time involved with curating content
- Time spent on monitoring trends, keywords, etc.
- Cost of images or time involved in creating images
- Cost of management tools like Sprout or HootSuite
- Cost/time involved in analytics
- Cost/time involved in maintaining effectiveness
It’s difficult to place a true value on these costs, especially those where time is involved. Is your receptionist using time on social media which he would otherwise have spent on his personal msocial media, or is time being taken away from mission-critical tasks?
And is the time your team spend actually producing the same value you’d get with a more strategic approach? Vanity metrics such as Likes can make a post look good, but they often don’t connect with sales, new patients, or other business goals. Does your in-house team understand the connection between social media and your business goals?
What’s your ROI?
It’s hard to measure ROI because it can include engagement, brand awareness, SEO improvement (because people see your practice more if they and their friends Like it more on social media), likelihood of check ins and reviews, and much more.
So you may have to compare your in-house costs to the cost of outsourcing without having usable metrics.
One option is to have a company like Haden Interactive prepare a social media strategy and to implement the strategy in-house. This gives you the advantage of access to behind-the-scenes photos and personal connections, while also giving you the strategic plan and analytics that help you make sure your social media ROI is worthwhile.
Either way, be sure that you identify the true cost in time and money of your social media initiatives. So often we hear that social media is free, but that’s not reality.