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Chief Marketing Officers, entrepreneurs and business owners are doing everything in their power to interface social media into the super-fast evolution of technology, and how they impact marketing. They already know that social media connects them with their audiences, but the information gap on the true costs involved in a social media campaign is widening faster than the learning curve. The time and resources invested in a campaign must be understood and evaluated in order to realize some level of return on that investment.
Three things to consider when contemplating a social media campaign:
1. Content Costs
The creation of engaging content is measured in several ways. Having a creative person on staff that has the time dedicated to writing content is an investment in both labor costs and the time allotment of a minimum of two hours a day. Blog posts, Facebook pages and Tweets, among other social media sites, will consume 20% to 30% of an employee’s time; $15,000 to $25,000 per year in labor burden. Content providers (blog post and article ghostwriters) and virtual assistants can be utilized to front load the campaign, and range in price from $6,000 to $15,000 annually, depending on the workload contracted. Like on-staff content creation, these costs are merely to create and place content. Inbound marketing software and a marketing agency to assist is becoming the standard, whereby everything is interfaced and a coordinated campaign is developed, placed and analyzed, and is constantly monitored and analyzed for management decision making. Traditional marketing agencies are racing to catch up with the digital agencies of today, providing a combination of technology and creativity, with bleeding edge analytics. The price range is broad for a full service marketing effort, but social media and blog posting can be $2500 a month to $25,000 a month.
2. Analytics Costs
Understanding the impact of your social media and blogging efforts adds to the cost of campaigns. Data must not only be gathered, but analyzed. Facebook provides some level of metrics, as well as Google analytics for your web activity. Which data streams to monitor and what to follow are the questions to ask yourself, as well as how much will it cost. The most valuable information to glean from social media interactions are the “Like” responses or comments, as well as those that ask for additional information. Whether analytics and metrics are evaluated in house or through the hiring of a third party, understanding the reports, trends and what it costs to manage these effectively is crucial.
Third party sources that utilize technology platforms such as Hubspot, Eloqua or some other software firm not only provide the analytics, they also provide complete solutions. Costs vary depending on what portions of a complete solution you are willing to utilize. The cost for analytics range from $500 to $1500 a month, but combining them with additional services from a third party may be more cost effective.
3. Like, Fan or Follower Acquisition Costs
It’s not only about the number of fans or followers you collect. The investment in social media platforms guarantees nothing. Wise use of time and talent (in-house or third party), combined with effective and well understood analytics may improve the ROI, but the key is knowledge and experience of the placement personnel of your content. In-house costs include indirect costs that may not be initially considered, such as health and welfare, space and technology allocation, etc. Outsourcing part or all of the campaign may be more cost effective, but management must fully evaluate these types of decisions.
Like everything else in business, social media investment is a risk and return decision. There is no magic formula for determining the true cost of a social media campaign, as each one is different. There is no cookie-cutter program, and your budget should encompass some of the hidden or ancillary costs highlighted above.