What’s the Cost of Social Media?

There’s been a lot of chatter about the ROI of social media but probably not as much attention about the costs to make social media happen.

Part of the challenge in determining ROI is costs can vary depending on the approach, the extent and kind of the programs and campaigns, and the resources allocated to day-to-day tactics, monitoring and analysis.

A recent info-graphic by Focus.com (shown below) suggests the cost of social media is $210,000. It is split into several parts with the two largest components being a social media strategist ($52,000) and community manager ($93,600).

For large companies, these costs might be relevant, although $50,000 for a social media strategist strike me as high. For smaller companies, it is probably difficult, if not impossible, to justify this kind of investment.

A more realistic cost structure to social media can be achieved by adopting a staged approach. For small and large companies, the cost of doing social media really starts once a social media strategy is implemented.

This helps to establish why social media is being used, how much activity there will be, the upfront investment needed to launch and customize social media services, and the resources required to create content, engage, monitor, etc.

At this point, companies can start to put together estimates about costs, including whether it makes sense within the scheme of things, and whether a good ROI can be achieved.

In many cases, getting into social media can start with a modest investment. It could see having an internal person designated as the social media manager, which means the investment is the time being carved out of that person’s other responsibilities.

It could mean hiring someone on a full-time or part-time basis, retaining someone on contract, or outsourcing to a third-party such as a social media or public relations agency.

Whatever option is selected, the costs can be managed depend on how much is being done and who’s going to do. The Focus.com info-graphic is eye-catching but far from being an ubiquitous approach.

3 Comments on “What’s the Cost of Social Media?”

  1. If businesses would stop throwing money at the problem (i.e. how to get in the social media game, how best to measure the game playing), and started spending more time actually “engaging” in the communities that they’re so fascinated by (and know they NEED to be involved in), they would find their return on investment would increase exponentially.

    Social is as social does. And it’s the “social” part that is sorely lacking with many brands & businesses online. If they threw a mixer or some other social gathering to recruit the latest B-school grads, they wouldn’t think twice about the need to be social. Much harder to make that commitment when everything is being published, in public.

    Businesses want to embrace social media without being social, and then berate the community for a perceived “lack” of ROI.

    Invest more of yourselves, see the return. Simple as that.

  2. If businesses where digging into what their real purpose was and spending time learning about all the social tools available(free or not). Much more tailored solutions would come out… and if not more powerful, cheaper.

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