In 2015, Facebook alone influenced more than half of all consumers’ online and offline purchases, according to a widespread study by the DigitasLBi Connected Commission. If you haven’t yet embraced social media marketing (SMM), it’s safe to assume you’re missing some prime opportunities to connect with your intended audience. Understandably, cost is a concern when you are considering fully exploring social media marketing for your business. You want the bang without having to dish out too many bucks. Realistically, social media marketing cost can range from $1,000 to $20,000 per month. Several factors will determine what you can expect to spend, but part of the consideration with the cost of social media marketing is the possible cost of not doing anything to engage your customers on platforms they frequently visit.
Why Social Media Marketing Matters
Simply put, social media marketing refers to the process of presenting useful, engaging, and shareable content via various social platforms and using those platforms as a means to drive traffic back to your website and boost the visibility of your brand. With nearly 2 billion active social media accounts worldwide, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your brand, generate leads, increase conversions, and get your message to the masses.
While Facebook is the platform often preferred by marketers and consumers, it’s only one slice of the social media marketing pie. There are just as many potential benefits with active engagement on Twitter, visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, and business-oriented platforms like LinkedIn. Regardless of how you connect socially with your customers, making an effort to do so often means:
• Potential customers will be more likely to discover your news-worthy content via their social media feeds
• You may achieve a better ranking with your other SEO efforts by maintaining active engagement socially.
• An uptick in traffic back to your website may be experienced with strategically placed links within your posts.
• You’ll increase your odds of getting more links back to your site from visitors who may be social influencers (social media users with a significant number of followers who value their opinion).
Social Media Marketing Services
Social media marketing involves more than preparing posts. As with other marketing services, you’ll be able to choose how much assistance you need with things like setting up accounts, tracking stats, and preparing new content, seeking relevant content from other sources, and maintaining results. SMM services you may want to consider include:
A good SMM strategy is one that’s based on a solid understanding of who your average visitor is and what they expect from their experience interacting with you. It starts with determining what platforms will work best for you and includes setting up customized profiles likely to resonate with your intended audience.
Relevant content needs to be delivered at an appropriate pace for each platform. With social media, this includes content based on topics your audience prefers, which can be determined by exploring available data for each platform and reviewing comments left by followers. Content should also include equally relevant links and carefully placed calls-to-action.
Community Growth and Interaction Management
Social media isn’t a passive form of engagement. An essential service unique to SMM is active interaction with followers, especially with customer service issues. It’s just as important to take steps to attract more followers on each platform.
Paid Social Marketing
Paid social marketing simply means paying for ads or sponsored content on various social platforms in addition to actively engaging with followers. It’s also based on a solid understanding of your audience. When done effectively, PSM can be an effective way to target customers, improve brand awareness, and integrate your marketing strategy across multiple channels.
SMM for SEO
Since Google is giving more weight to social media content, it makes sense to optimize content that’s posted on your platforms. SEO for SMM includes peppering relevant keywords throughout content and posts and using your social media accounts to promote your other online content to tie it all together.
Reporting and Analytics
As with other forms of marketing, SMM isn’t going to mean much if you can’t track your ROI. Reporting and analytic services involve taking data from each platform and presenting it in a way that makes sense. Reports, in particular, can provide much-appreciated insights so you’ll know what’s working, where improvements can be made, and what opportunities you may want to explore further.
What SMM Can Do for Your Business
Social media marketing isn’t just for businesses that do more or all of their business online. There are so many possibilities with marketing via social platforms because of all of the tools at your disposal, not to mention all the stats you can instantly access. If a good portion of your sales come from brick-and-mortar customers, SMM can still have an impact on your revenue. With more than 220 million smartphone users in the United States, odds are good many of your on-the-go customers routinely check their social media pages to keep track of what’s going on with their preferred businesses.
Because social media alerts can be narrowed to specific locations, you can use geo-targeting to send quick social messages to customers who happen to be around your physical location. In this instance, SMM can be used to let customers in the area know your business is nearby. You could even let each customer know how many minutes away you are or send out directions to further encourage an in-person visit. This is just one example of how SMM can fit into your overall marketing plan.
Social media marketing isn’t going to replace your other marketing efforts. It will just an added part of your overall marketing strategy. When this strategy is effectively implemented, the potential benefits can have a major impact on your business; especially if you’ve already put some time and effort into your website design since that’s where customers are usually directed to.
When Can I Start Seeing Results from Social Media Marketing?
SMM won’t give you immediate results like you’d get from paid advertising, although paid social does have similar benefits. What it can do is give you a chance to really connect with your customer base in a way that’s not possible with a website or even a blog post. Social media marketing is an investment that can pay off over time. It’s also an immediate, real-time method of interaction that may help your business by:
• Increasing awareness of your business
• Encouraging customer loyalty
• Allowing you to track your online leads from social media
• Providing instant feedback so you can instantly know what you’re doing right and where you may need to improve
Breaking Down SMM Costs
The cost of social media marketing will depend on how you it fits into your overall marketing scheme. Some small businesses do most or all of their business online while other businesses rely on a combination of sales from physical locations and online orders. It’s easier to determine your social media marketing cost when you consider how much you’ll likely need to allocate in your budget for the specific platforms you plan to use. A compressive social media marketing strategy can cost between $3,000 and $20,000 per month, with the average fee being around $5,000. Read on to see how it breaks down by platform.
Marketing on Facebook
Instant access to nearly 2 billion users is the most compelling reason to include Facebook as one of your preferred platform. The social media giant has added features such as Instant Articles to make it easier for businesses to deliver relevant content to their target audience. The ability to instantly respond to posted comments or direct the tone of the conversation can also encourage brand loyalty and generate more traffic back to your website. SMM costs on Facebook can range from $2,500 to $9,000 per month. Fees typically include account setup and maintenance, ongoing training, and assistance with content distribution. It’s often more cost-effective to bundle Facebook with a few other platforms likely to be regularly used by your customers.
Marketing on Twitter
Twitter’s limited 140 character posts can work well if you want to send out alerts when new offers are available; or when you have products or services requiring a lot of customer interaction. You’ll be tapping into audience of more than 300 million active monthly users accustomed to digesting short messages. Considering that attention spans average eight seconds now, it can be an effective medium if you incorporate hashtags and links into your posts. If you already use Twitter, the bulk of your costs will come from restructuring your account so it works well for your business. Fees typically includes expenses related to initial account setup, creating, gathering, and distributing content, and customer interactions. Costs for a new account range from $1,000 to nearly $8,000 per month; and monthly fees for an existing account range from $1,000 to $2,500.
Recently added topic-basd video channels allow you to further personalize your brand and provide added insights into your products and services with Instagram. You may benefit from marketing on a visual platform like this if you have an extensive selection of products to display. Most businesses add one of these niche platforms to their bundle with Facebook and/or Twitter.
Marketing on Pinterest
When considering smaller platforms like Pinterest, take a look at your demographics. Pinterest tends to appeal more to women in higher income brackets. If this your target audience, a visual platform like this may fit in well with your social media marketing plan. When strategically used with other platforms, however, it can be an effective way to expose your brand to 150 million monthly users. Expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 per month to set up an account, manage boards, and maintain a steady flow of content and interaction.
Marketing with Snapchat
Not surprisingly, Snapchat skews younger with its demographics, more so than any other platform. While you will get instant access to 100 million daily users, the messages delivered here, in the form of 15-second videos and images, only last up to 24 hours after being viewed. It can be difficult to build a following with a platform as unique as this, but it may work for you if you’re targeting younger customers with an appetite for useful-but-disposable content.
For marketing purposes, LinkedIn is a platform worth considering if you’re primarily targeting other businesses. The cost of social media marketing for LinkedIn can be minimal if you just need the basics, as in a good profile and some tips on how to take advantage of the platform’s community features. With more than 450 million worldwide users, LinkedIn can potentially become an effective business-building tool with active participation in groups and a branded LinkedIn address.
Social Media Advertising Costs
From tapping into an instant audience of millions to generating more productive leads with carefully crafted and strategically placed content, there are many compelling reasons to include some type of social media advertising into your SMM plan. The costs associated with social media advertising can vary based on what platforms you use and how you prefer to purchase your ads. All the major platforms have some form of paid advertising available. It’ll cost about 10 to 20 percent of your total ad buy if you want a professional to manage your social ads.
There will be nearly 3 billion social users by 2020 and many of those people will be using one platform or another to make purchasing decisions and connect with their preferred brands. Social media marketing is an investment that’s easy to justify when the possible return on investment is considered along with the potential cost of ignoring social media altogether or under-using existing accounts. When properly implemented, a social media marketing plan will have a widespread impact on your business and brand.
Can you honestly afford not to include social media marketing as part of your online engagement strategy? Please share your thoughts and comments.