Time is arguably the most important asset for a business owner. If you’re a CEO or Founder of a company your time is needed everywhere. You’re constantly pulled from one department to another, in and out of meetings with potential clients, investors, and vendors. So, ask yourself, “Where is my time best spent?” Just a guess here, but “Social Media” probably wasn’t your answer.
Besides the fact that you don’t have the time, do you have the resource to do social media marketing? Let’s break down the costs, hidden and obvious:
First, we can discuss the onboarding and setup process. This first step doesn’t require any money but there are some hidden costs. If your company doesn’t have a logo, high quality photos of your business, product and staff, and succinct descriptions of what you do, creating all of these assets can become costly. For most business owners, this would take somewhere between one to four hours to complete setting up all your accounts.
Now that you have your platforms chosen and the base setup, it is time to gain some followers. It is best practice to utilize your current clients for the initial followers. If you have an email list already curated, you should check out Boucher + Co.’s guide here to target your clients in a Facebook ‘Like Campaign’ as soon as possible.
If you’re starting your social media from scratch, this is going to be very time consuming. However, there are a few ways to do this: send personal invites or a newsletter, create signage to hang up if you have a brick and mortar, etc. While social media is an amazing way to get in front of new people, having your current client base as fans will legitimize your pages and create brand equity.
We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves though. Before you promote yourself to new prospects, you’ll need to post content that will entice people to engage with your brand. Be warned, this is the most time consuming part of the process and also the part where owners stumble most often.
Social media content must be entertaining, educational, and easy to consume. Each platform should have different content, but you can get away with ‘Social Media Lite’ if you can’t afford to spend the time or money. However, consistency is key here – you must post on a semi-regular schedule. What if a prospective client saw that your page hasn’t posted in months? They’ll likely assume you are no longer in business and go straight to your competitor.
“How much time does it possibly take to make content?” you ask? Well, generally it takes an hour or more to find a relevant article or image, write the post with your brand’s language, and post across your channels. If it is owned content, custom for your business, that can take longer or a little faster depending on you, the content, and the message.
Many small business owners get discouraged when they can’t seem to gain more followers and get engagement on their posts. You might even think that social media marketing isn’t going to work for your business at this point. Don’t throw in the towel yet! Here comes the part where you have to pay to play. You can give your content a boost to have it seen by people who don’t already like your page – or put more money on it so more of your followers see it.
In an ideal world, you would put a little bit of money on every post you put out. Give your social media a healthy diet of ads pulling new people to your page, boosting posts for overall engagement and ads for special promotions is the best path to success. However, if you’re on a shoestring budget, focus on only putting money on posts that promote your product, website, or brand.
When it comes to creating advertisements, there is quite a bit of tinkering involved. You have to play around with the audiences, advertising spend, and learn each platforms’ ad guidelines to optimize your social media marketing for success. Outside of time spent on education, there’s the actual cost of paying the social networks for placement. At Boucher + Co. we make sure to start our clients with at least $100 a month for a Facebook ad budget alone.
Now you’ve gotten down the rhythm of posting and you’re starting to see engagement. However, with great engagement comes great responsibility! Community management is what we call customer service for social media. A combination of acknowledging your followers comments, responding to inquiries, and having conversations with a personal touch. I mean, would you hang up on somebody who called your business and asked a question? If your answer is ‘Yes’ – good luck with that! When you’ve got a great page, you’ll likely spend around at least 5 or more hours a week trying to stay on top of responding to questions, liking, commenting, retweeting, etc.
After ALL this hard work has been done, it is time to take out a magnifying glass and analyze the results of your social media campaigns. Be sure to track your analytics and see where your prospects or new clients are coming from online. This way you can clearly see if your company is killing it on Instagram or Pinterest but suffering on Facebook and make adjustments.
Understanding your ROI from social media can be difficult sometimes. Watching how much investment you are putting into it will help you understand whether you need to hire help in-house, from an outside company or take time getting more education for yourself.
And now, I present you with an easy-to-swallow roundup of ‘The True Cost’ of social media:
- Your Initial Setup: Between 1-4 hours to choose your platforms, create your pages, and find or create your image and writing assets for your company.
- Building Your Audience & Ad Setup: Uploading your email list, creating signage and inviting your personal social network takes at least 10 hours for the initial month.
- Curating Your Content: The recommended amount of posts per week is around 3-4 on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, 1-2 times a day on Instagram, and 3 times a day on Twitter. Remember, it could take up to an hour to come up with each piece of content!
- Audience Engagement: If you fully interact with your community and build a solid online presence, you’ll need to commit at least 20 hours per month.
- Analyzing Your Campaign: To gauge your ROI or ROE properly, it’s integral to spend about an hour each week to ensure your goals are being met.
Alright, so if we’re talking bare bones here, in order to maintain a social media presence you will need to invest around 50 hours per month, a solid 1-4 hours of initial setup, and no less than $100/month in advertising spend. With a low-end estimate of $15 an hour for your time invested, the overall cost comes to around $1000 for your first month. How does that sound? Are you ready for social media marketing?