Photo courtesy of PT MoneySmall business owners are lucky. Since they are small, they don’t need a million dollar budget and a 15 person team managing their marketing. They can do it themselves, hire an individual internally or outsource it to a marketing professional in the community. But I’d like to address the common misconception that social media marketing doesn’t cost a lot. If someone is telling you that they can take over all your social media marketing initiatives for $100 a month, they’re lying to you. If you want to hire a college student for $7.25 an hour to do the job for you, go ahead. They don’t have the skills or know-how to do a good job and won’t care about doing a good job because you’re paying them minimum wage.

So let me break it down for you, and try to give you an idea of how much social media marketing is going to cost you based on the amount of time it typically takes to perform each weekly task.

Let’s say the average salary for someone doing your social media tasks ranges from 50-80k a year (according to The Creative Group Salary Guide). That would mean a marketing professional may charge you approximately $24-$38 an hour. I will use a median hourly rate ($31) to calculate an average monthly cost. Let me preface this all by saying that these prices are not reflective of my own, and are just an estimate of what you might be looking to pay.

Copy Writing – Status Updates

Not only does it take time to think up/research creative status updates, it also takes time to write them and publish/schedule them. A seasoned marketing professional should be able to create & schedule a weeks’ worth of Facebook updates (let’s say once a day) in an hour, hour and a half if there is a lot of back and forth between emails. They should also be able to schedule these to Twitter without much additional time (if they are using a third party device to schedule updates).

Approximate monthly cost: $150

Tweeting/Monitoring

Posting on Facebook once a day is enough, but tweeting once a day won’t get you anywhere. The person managing your Twitter account should be tweeting several times a day with potential customersand professionals in your industry. This is one of the greatest time sucks – it includes monitoring for keywords, thinking up interesting responses and carrying on conversations. This will definitely affect your monthly cost, but it’s hard to say by how much depending on your goals. Let’s just say we’ll work with the cost to tweet/monitor 25 minutes throughout the day (5 minutes here and there) all week long.

Approximate monthly cost: $250

Content Creation (Specifically blogging) 

Now, you’re not going to want to waste your time sharing everyone else’s content, because then you’re just promoting their business and that won’t get YOUR business anywhere. You’re going to need your own content to post so your followers can learn more about your business and share it with their friends.  This is typically in the form of blog posts, images, videos, what have you. A blog post is most likely something your social media manager can do for you (with your guidance, after all, you are the expert in your business). It should take a decent writer an hour and a half to put together a blog post depending on the length, details and research of course. If you do 1 a week, it will cost you….

Approximate monthly cost: $200

Advertising

Some online marketing professionals like to use Facebook ads to increase awareness. A small business would benefit from a small ad budget.

Approximate monthly cost: $100

On-Site Consulting Time

Do you want your social media to come talk strategy, take photos, or attend events? Those are all things that take them away from working on their other clients, and they must be compensated. Price of gas and travel time should also be taken into consideration. This is much harder to calculate, but let’s say one on-site visit a month…

Approximate monthly cost: $150

 

Total Approximate monthly cost: $850

 

Social media marketing doesn’t look so cheap anymore, does it? Each task may not look expensive, but they add up. You may decide to only build a presence on one social network, and you may decide you don’t want on-site consulting time, which will save you money. That’s why its important to pick and chose your social networks wisely. Let’s not forget about other social networks like Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Running social media promotions/contests or using social networks for public relations will also increase your monthly cost.

If you’re thinking, “well that’s just too much money, I will have to do it myself” – how much is your time worth? Are you sure it can’t be spent doing something you’re better at? And compared to traditional marketing tactics such as TV, magazine, and direct mailing, social media marketing IS a more affordable option.

Obviously I’m not trying to scare you away from social media, because it is a great investment. You don’t NEED to hire someone full time, but you do need a professional who can put in several hours a week. This post is just a reminder that you get what you pay for – don’t skimp on these services or you will end up wasting your money.

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