What Does Social Media Really Cost?

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a local business group about the advantages of using social media marketing for business promotion and I included a slide that showed the costs of using social media. The main point I was trying to drive home was “Time is Money.” Basically you have two options you can pay an outside consultant or company to help you or manage you social media in house, either way someone will be investing time, and that costs money.

In the middle of the discussion a business owner made the comment isn’t that contradictory to “Social Media is free?” The simple answer, yes. Unfortunately too many business have this mentality and when they decide to take the plunge into social media they are sourly disappointed by the cost of outsourcing and discouraged by the results of doing it in house.

I was reminded of this again this morning when I came across an article over on Clickz.com.

This year analysts are saying that the social media marketing will be a $3.08 billion industry and this is expected to grow. What’s included in this calculation? An Altimeter survey from eMarketer shows that the biggest expenses will fall under staff, advertising, influencer/blogger programs, custom technology, and social customer relationship management (CRM). Using a CRM in coordination with website analytics is where you begin to see your ROI.

Social media costs 2011

The bottom line is that to successfully use social media marketing, businesses need to take the time to create a plan that includes a realistic budget. Simply throwing up a Facebook page and sending a few tweets is not going to cut it.

Wondering About the Cost of Social Media? Think: “Time is Money”

Their is a misconception among a lot of businesses and business owners that Social Media is free. When I come across people that believe this, I try to explain to them that even though many of the tools and platforms are free, using the free tools correctly is not. The old adage always comes to mind:  “Time is Money.”  Here’s some data to back up that up.

Social Media Examiner recently published their annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report (<– Get the full report). Some of the most interesting data to come out of the report is the amount of time that marketers spend on Social Media:

A significant 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 34% for 11 or more hours weekly. It’s interesting to note that 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

Those with more years of social media experience spend more time each week conducting social media activities. For example, 63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activities. Only 41% of those with 1 to 3 years experience spend that much time.

time commitment for social media

I typically estimate that companies need to invest at least 5 hours a week in Social Media in order to see a real benefit. In my opinion this is an absolute minimum! This includes, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, video, social bookmarking as well as others.

How much time do you spend on your Social Media activities?

Some other useful reading:

Social Media ROI – What’s Your Plan?
How much do you need to budget for Social Media in 2011?

How To: Five Things You Can do With Social Media Marketing

5 Ways Social Media Marketing Can Help Your Business

Social media marketing is a newcomer to the marketing scene and continues to be a hot topic. Many companies fail when they attempt to leverage it as a marketing tool. Often they just don’t understand what the potential of social media marketing really is. This list will help you see what it can do for your company.

    social media marketing

  1. Bring links to your website.
    Link building is a key component of search engine optimization and social media is a great way to get inexpensive links. Although many social media platforms use what’s called nofollow links (nofollow links tell the search engine bots not to follow the links) there are plenty of ways to get follow links as well. Don’t forget that blogs are also a form of social media. By posting relevant content and then promoting it through social media platforms you create many more chances to be found by bloggers, who in turn may post a link to your content in their blog. Plus, even if people link to you content via social media platforms with nofollow links, guess what, people follow those links.
  2. Bring traffic to your website.
    This ties into the links as well. As you create good content and link to it through relevant posts on social media platforms, this alone can drive traffic to your site. But when it really gets interesting is when an influencer gets a hold of your content and shares it with their connections and those connections share it with their connections this can quickly turn into a stream of traffic being driven to your site. This is what I like to call word of mouth on steroids.
  3. Create consumer brand awareness
    It’s definitely true that brand awareness is good for your business, social media can help you create a good first impression as well as keep your products in the minds of consumers. If you are engaged with social media marketing and continue to post relevant thoughtful information, when consumers are in need of your product they will remember they saw your posts online and come to you. Recommendations are also a big part of social media marketing, and not just review site. Every time someone includes a link, or shares your content they are essentially giving a recommendation.
  4. Drive conversions
    A conversion can be many things depending on your objectives. It could be downloading a whitepaper, purchasing a product online, filling out a contact form, etc. Whatever you consider to be a conversion. A well thought out social media marketing plan can drive people to convert.
  5. Start conversations
    Today’s consumers don’t want to be spoken to they want to converse and they are looking for input from their peers. If you are getting links and traffic from your social media marketing, that’s because people are talking about you. On the flip side if you can get conversations started then there’s a good chance you will also see more traffic and links to you site.