In order to accurately evaluate social media costs you have to understand what is involved. Social media is primarily concerned with delivering highly focused content to your targeted audience groups in order to generate discussion and interest in what you offer. Ultimately you want this kind of activity to generate sales. So what’s really involved? And what generates costs?
Before you develop your strategy, you have to identify the social media websites where you expect to reach your targeted audience groups. That involves research. Whether you assign one person or a team of people, research is going to have to be factored into your costs.
Once you know the social media sites you are targeting, you have to develop highly focused content that is designed for each of your targeted audience groups. That means freshly written content, most often with corresponding digital images, videos, or downloadable attachments, needs to be generated according to your set schedule:
1. For each audience group you are targeting
2. For each social media site you are targeting
Content development is going to require the largest chunk of your budget as it incurs ongoing costs.
Remember: the best approach is to ‘divide and conquer.’ Create content that is highly relevant to each of your targeted audience groups to be placed on the most relevant social media sites.
Social Media Management
First you need to chart:
1. Where you are publishing your content (which social media sites are appropriate)
2. Whom you are targeting (the different audience groups and what will interest each one)
3. Your set schedule of content delivery for each social media site and targeted audience group
4. Your set schedule of responding to audience feedback, comments, questions, etc.
5. Where you are promoting your social media content
Next you need to assign a person or team of people to manage all of the above to make sure content is written, published, followed-up on, and promoted consistently so you can achieve the business results you desire. Social Media Management requires consistency and discipline. It you fail here you will fail everywhere no matter how good you think your content is. Just like content development, social media management is on-going and incurs costs of labor and time.
Figuring Out a Budget
If you decide to incorporate social media into your marketing and branding budget then you have to be realistic about the amount of time and labor that is required. If you develop a strategy with the understanding of what is involved to execute it successfully, whether you choose to do it in-house or to hire a professional marketing firm, you’ll be able to structure your budget effectively to cover the costs involved and use the return on investment to fund the initiative as well as grow your business. The key is to manage your investment properly so that you can capitalize on your efforts without wasting money.