true cost of social media marketingEveryone’s heard the popular adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” meaning it’s impossible to get something for nothing. In the same way, there’s no such thing as free social media.

For years, we’ve heard that social media is ‘free.’ While it’s true that there are no costs associated to actually setting up your social media accounts, using it in an effective way is far from being free.

Social media has caused the biggest cultural shift in the way we communicate since email. It has revolutionized advertising, branding, and professional networking for businesses. More importantly, it changed the way businesses interact with clients, customers, suppliers and others, giving new access like never seen before. By understanding all the cost of social media marketing that are involved, you will be able to appreciate just how important investing in social networking can be for your business and why despite the costs, we think you should invest. This list will explain the true cost of social media marketing!

Cost #1: Planning

planning

Your first and most crucial step is similar to developing a marketing campaign — you need to come up with an extensive plan and strategy. Don’t join every network just to be ‘on’ social media — a comprehensive strategy is a must! Every tweet, post, and the message should have a resounding key message and meaning.

Next, evaluate your current staffing resources and determine if anyone has time to take on the role, and ensure they have the capability, otherwise, get quotes to outsource. Look for vendors that consider your brand and your goals and integrate a social media strategy into your overall company goals.

Next, determine your target audience and analyze which social media network(s) they’re on. The more popular networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn need not be your only options. Depending on your business you may want to look at image-focused sites like Pinterest or Instagram or tech-dominated networks like Google+.

Make some short and long term goals, including increasing website traffic, brand awareness and customer leads, to name a few. The more specific you are with your goals, the higher the likelihood you’ll see yield results, regardless of your budget.

Cost #2: Branding and Graphics

graphics and branding

Once you have outlined and appropriately budgeted for your social media strategy, the next step is branding. When budgeting, consider both time and costs that will need to be spent on creating profiles and banner photos on each platform. Don’t rush this process! These images represent your business and communicate its values. Having a consistent look and feel is important. Create each social network’s images separately, focusing on the target market, calls-to-action, and sizes.

Cost #3: Scheduling Your Daily Posts

scheduling posts

For each tweet and post, take your time to ensure the content is engaging. Each post should be researched and include the most optimal keywords and hashtags – all within each network’s specific restrictions. Creating a consistent schedule that’s active at all hours (and all days!) requires help from amazing social media management tool like SocioBoard Core. This tool can save you valuable time, and come with lots of amazing features that’ll make handling social media campaign a piece of cake. Decide which platform fits you best based on which networks you’re using and the number of accounts you are managing. Effective scheduling can mean the difference between a few hundred people seeing and interacting with your posts, or a few thousands!

Cost #4: Promoting Your Posts with Social Media Ads

scheduling posts

Social media ads are one of the most effective ways to reach your target audience. A minimum budget of $150 should be put towards Twitter cards, Facebook ads, LinkedIn promotions, and other options. The ads allow you to specifically target demographics such as users that follow specific companies, age and gender groups, and even specific cities and regions. Some platforms also offer their own unique means of targeting users. For example, Facebook posts can target specific people who like your page, whereas Twitter cards allow customized call-to-actions.

Social media ads are much more cost-effective than traditional advertisements. For instance, social media ads give your brand an opportunity to have an outward personality and enables you to respond in real-time! Could you image a radio or television ad doing the same? They also have the advantage of driving traffic to your website and improve your search engine ranking!

Cost #5: Engagement

engagement

The ultimate goal of social media is to be sociable, and this requires interaction. Engagement showcases your brand, voice, and image, and convinces customers to connect with you. The true value of a connection was noted in a recent study by Syncapse, which evaluated Twitter followers as being worth approximately $2.38 each!

Building your following takes time but engaging, interacting, and listening is the most important step. On Google Plus for example, the time spent creating great content and posting is almost wasted if you there is no interaction with your audience. Engagement needs to be done around the clock. People now expect an immediate response on social media. If done properly, engagement can have a significant impact on your funnel and customer service, leading to an increase in sales and customer retention.

Cost #6: Analytics and Evaluation

analytics and evaluation

It’s almost impossible to improve your social media efforts without considering analytics. Were you able to increase brand awareness with an increase in followers? Did engagement increase? Have you received messages? Questions? Comments on posts? How long did it take you to respond?

These and other qualitative evaluations must be monitored regularly. Social media management tools like SocioBoard Core, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, etc. monitor click throughs, shares, and even impressions! You can also obtain demographic information for those who interacted with you and monitor top influencers and influences. This valuable information enables you to evaluate where your investments in social media should be directed, whether you are getting the desired ROI, and how your efforts are being perceived.

Do you have any tip or something to share with us? Please share it in the comment section below.

Make the Most Out of Your Social Media Marketing Budget