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.