First, let’s just get this out of the way: social media marketing is not free. There, I said it.
Now, if you’re still reading, let me justify when it’s important to have a line item in your marketing budget for social media (and other online marketing tools).
The cost of marketing
Generally, companies who are looking to maintain “status quo” should spend between 5 – 10% of their revenue on marketing. Businesses who want to grow and grab a larger piece of the market share should look to increase their marketing budget somewhere between 15 – 25% of their total revenue (and that should be all of us because we’re all looking for growth, right?)
Of course, specific industries may be on the smaller or larger ends of the budget spectrum, but the percentages above are good guidelines to start with.
Show us the numbers
Some of my favorite statistics come from Content Marketing Institute’s comparison of Super Bowl ads versus content marketing tactics. And although social media is a small part of the whole when it comes to content marketing, there’s good insight to think about when it comes to traditional advertising versus content marketing and social media.
The average cost of a super bowl ad was $3.5 million in 2012. And no, most of us don’t have that kind of ad spend to work with, but if we did, here is what we could get in terms of content marketing (according to Content Marketing Institute):
- 16,000 blog posts developed at an average of $225 per post. And let’s just say each blog post is shared just 300 times across social media channels over a 6-month period; now we’re talking more than 4.5 million shares
- 47 issues of your own full-color, 32-page print magazine delivered at $3 a copy to a mailing list of 25,000. Which, after doing some rough math, calculates to 19 hours of engagement per person. That’s huge.
- Your very own chief content officer (salary of $150,000) or a managing editor ($90,000 per year) for anywhere between 23 to 40 years. What?!
And while it may be easier to take the traditional advertising route and do it “the same as we’ve always done,” your content marketing efforts will have a longer shelf life. Even if you just used social media as your main tool, there’s more opportunity for sharing content than through traditional advertising (when’s the last time your friends have taken a picture of a really cool billboard and shared it on Instagram? I’m guessing never).
Reasons for why you might need a bigger social media budget
Keeping the above statistics in mind, it’s time to put some serious thought into bumping up your social media budget. Here are a few instances (Super Bowl aside) for why it’s important:
- Staff and resources (do you have enough physical resources to manage the sites? Is it beneficial to outsource?)
- Content production (are you equipped to produced consistent, timeline content?)
- Third-party app subscriptions (ie: for scheduled posts, brand monitoring, lead generation)
- New product launch (new products typically require heavier marketing)
- Special events
- Expanding into additional markets or locations (social media is a great way to expand reach outside your current market)
What is a reasonable ROI to expect from social media?
There’s no silver bullet here; it depends on your business goals, your industry and the effort you put into what you’re doing. Likewise, the individual marketing tactics will take time–if your goal is to increase brand awareness, the time period it will take to see long-standing results will be longer than, say, that of an lead generation campaign.
Social media marketing is the same; it is not a “get-rich-quick” scheme that will deliver awesome results over night. It takes time to build relationships and to see your efforts grow.
The bottom line is this: social media is not free. It takes time. It costs money. And those businesses who implement a strategy that combines grass roots, organic content and paid reach will fare better than those who do not.