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 services?
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 management 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 280 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.
How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?
Facebook management pricing 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.
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 marketing a look.
Snapchat is the cool kid on campus, 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.
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.
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.
Interested in our consulting services? We’ll train anyone you want on the ins and outs of social media for a one-time $3,500 fee which includes training via GoToMeeting or Skype, a strategy session and our comprehensive social media guide. Want to find out if you’re a good fit? Check out the five things to ask yourself before hiring an online marketing agency, and if you think we’d make a good team, contact us today!