We’re all guilty of it. Pretending like social media management is free. That since Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram – and all the rest of the social networks – don’t have a hard cost for maintaining a profile, we don’t need to include a budget for social media.

Not only is this wrong. It is very wrong. Social media – done right – demands a budget for several reasons. How you address the budget may vary based on your business model. But the bottom line is that without spending at least a minimal amount of money, your social media accounts aren’t going to work very hard for you.

Time is money.

Social media management takes time, and it’s never ending. Where it’s true that you don’t have to pay to have a profile on just about every network, you do have to pay someone to manage your networks. A lot of work goes into maintaining a productive social media presence. It can easily become a full-time job for someone.

  • Researching: In order to know what type of content to share, you first need to research your target audience and the social media networks your company is on. You need to know what type of content your audience wants to see and the best ways to engage with them. It’s different on every platform.
  • Creating Content: Whether it’s researching for third-party content to share or creating your own content, this is probably the most time-consuming aspect of great social media. It takes time to find relevant content to share. And it takes time to write posts, take pictures and produce videos to share. The better content you want; the more time it takes to develop.
  • Scheduling: Once your content is created, you need to take time to schedule your posts. Sounds simply enough. But anyone who has spent any time scheduling posts knows there is an art to when to post to each network. Also, outside of Facebook, if you want to schedule posts ahead of time, you’ll need some sort of social media management software to help you, such as Hootsuite or Sendible (there are countless softwares that can do this), which is an additional annual cost.
  • Monitoring: Social media management, at its best, works when someone on your team is actively monitoring keywords around your brand, your competitors and your industry. Social media can be used as an incredibly powerful research tool to gain insights on an audience and how they perceive and interact with your brand. The aforementioned social media management tools can assist with this as well.
  • Responding/Engaging: Hand-in-hand with monitoring is responding and engaging. Customer service through social media is now the norm, not the exception. Someone has to be monitoring comments, questions and mentions about your brand in order to take care of questions, customer service issues, nip potential crises in the bud, and to also engage in a proactive and positive way with your audiences.
  • Analytics: Similar to monitoring, but more about measurement, analytics (data from your social media activities) should be carefully reviewed on a regular basis. With analytics you can build performance reports and pull out insights to build future recommendations. Discover why some posts do better than others. It could be the time of day, the style of content or the type of post. Video does better than text-only posts. Really promotional and “salesy” content does poorer than sharing news or stories. Use this information to create better content that will increase your results.

Organic reach is down.

On top of all the time that it takes to research, create, schedule, monitor and analyze your social media accounts, organic reach is next to nil for company pages on many social networks, especially on Facebook. Therefore, to reach your audience and grow your audience, it may be necessary to pay for advertisements or to promote (boost, sponsor, etc…) your posts. Add that to your budget.

Spend money to make money.

As mentioned earlier, there are tools out there to help set your social media managers up for success. Tools like Hootsuite allow you to schedule posts, monitor accounts and keywords, and provide in-depth reporting and analytics. Packages with these companies can be customizable, but do come with an additional annual cost. But look at this as an investment. The time and energy put into managing your social media accounts will go so much further with the right tools that can increase efficiency and creativity.

Watch the ROI.

We often receive questions like, “Is social media really worth it?” or “How is that helping our bottom-line?” To put it simply, yes, social media is worth it and it helps your bottom line in a variety of ways. By using the tools and analytics mentioned before you can improve customer service (translate to retain customers), raise awareness and improve your reputation (translate to boost your brand’s position among the competition), and directly track traffic from your social media accounts to your website, which can translate to leads and sales.

The only question left is who you are going to pay to manage your social media. There are a few ways to you can budget for social media management.

  1. You can have a company employee manage your company social media profiles, but then you have additional man hours to account for, and the additional costs for whatever tools you decide to use.
  2. You can manage your social media networks yourself, but then you have to think about how much your time is worth. Could you be spending your time more efficiently running your business?
  3. OR, you can employ an agency to manage your social media accounts. This allows you to only pay for what you need rather than hiring another employee for the job (or overtaxing an existing employee). Working with an agency can grant you access to premium social media tools for a fraction of the cost of purchasing it on your own. And social media experts at agencies tend to stay on top of current trends and provide creative solutions with new platforms as the social media world rapidly changes.

Contact InQuest Marketing for more information about the social media solutions we can provide for your brand.

Jessica Crozier

Author Jessica Crozier

Jessica is the Director of PR and Social Media at InQuest Marketing. Her team is responsible for clients' social media, public relations and content marketing needs. Her favorite memory of her time at InQuest is working on the launch of a new retail brand and watching it grow from initial concept to thriving business. Outside of the office Jessica enjoys playing the cello and hiking with her dog.

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