Monday, January 5, 2015

Social Media Management: What's it Cost? What's it Worth?

Social media, the "free" advertising vehicle, isn't free, of course. Even if you're a small business owner dedicated to doing it yourself, there's a significant time investment. Not only do you need to learn the tools and keep up with the constant changes, a little advertising/marketing/communications savvy is necessary.

Like most everything else, you can learn to do it, and do it well. And like everything else, the time you invest in learning social media will take time away from something else - probably something you're already good at, where your time is more wisely spent.

Social Media Management: How Much Does it Cost?

Social media managers, whether managing Facebook only or handling the broad scope of all social media tools (Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, etc., etc.) and - if you're lucky - blog content and email messaging - are more than "just" writers, more than "just" marketing professionals. Technical skills count and again, there's a tremendous time investment to stay on top of the game.

So what should you expect to pay? The low-end packages right now hover in the $800-$2000/month range. More complete packages go for in the neighborhood of $8000/month. (Sound high? a ballpark figure from a 2011 article puts costs higher, at $75-$200/hr.) And the bad news is, packaged social media/content management rarely gets the job done well. The "softer side" of marketing is getting to know your customers, your product(s), your niche, your industry... and speaking the language in a way that will turn prospects on without turning search engines off.

Those softer skills, including the all-important voice and customer connection, don't come cheap. However, many marketing consultants offer consulting services on an ad-hoc basis. What's that cost? Average figures from 2014 for Facebook Page or Twitter account creation come in at around $400-$800 for the initial creation. (Figures from a couple of years earlier say $500-$2500. Go figure.) Ongoing account management varies depending on activity level

DIY Cheaper, But Results Are at Stake

This isn't intended to scare you out of doing it yourself. You don't have to be a genius to learn social media tools, you probably understand your audience and your products better than anyone, and marketing is much more forgiving than rocket science - if you make a mistake, you can recover.

The question you need to ask yourself is:

Will I really put the necessary time in to get the results I need, and at what cost to my business?

Great Free Tools Available

If the answer is yes, you've committed to doing it yourself, great. For heaven's sake, don't reinvent the wheel. GREAT tools are available free, many from Hootsuite - like an article on changes to Facebook in 2015.

And if the answer is no, great. Like I said, marketing is a lot more forgiving than rocket science. If you choose a consultant, or designate someone already on staff to handle your messaging and it doesn't work out, try something else. If that doesn't work, try, try again.

Because when it comes to marketing (but not necessarily rocket science) doing something is better than doing nothing.

Here's to time well spent, in 2015 and beyond.

No comments: