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Calculating the True Cost of Social Media Marketing

Calculating the True Cost of Social Media Marketing
You’re excited and starting a new business. After registering with the IRS and figuring out what your email address is going to be, the first move made by business owners is to set up a social media account. Maybe it’s Facebook or Instagram. Perhaps it’s LinkedIn if you are a B2B company. I can’t tell you how many people have approached us to manage their social media accounts as their first marketing investment – thinking, “if you build it, they will come.”

But I digress. Social media has increasingly become a top marketing priority for businesses. Most people manage their social media posting in-house because it’s “free,” and they spend a lot of time doing it. But what really is the cost? The true cost of social media marketing can be complicated to calculate, and it might not be the right marketing strategy for your business. Here are some costs to consider before committing internal resources to social media.

Out of Pocket Costs

Many businesses turn to social media tools such as Canva or Adobe Suite to enhance the quality of their posts. These creative platforms can also help reduce the amount of time you spend on organic social media content. The subscription fees associated with these tools, however, are an investment in social media marketing.

The Cost of Your Time

In addition to the amount of time you spend creating, posting, and monitoring your social media posts, consider the time you lose on reading how-to articles and keeping up to date on the latest social media trends. You most certainly have fallen down a social media rabbit hole once or twice, too. We all have. At a minimum, you are likely spending twice the amount of time you think you are on social media marketing. If you multiply this number by how much you would charge a client for your time, you will have a better idea of the true cost of your social media endeavors.

Opportunity Costs

Similarly, the time spent on social media is time you could be spending on other more potentially worthwhile marketing and sales activities. People feel comfortable and useful being active on social media; however, there are other marketing opportunities to explore that could be more valuable for your business. Things like writing blog posts, connecting with influencers, testing online outreach in other channels, and countless other practices you use to build your brand may offer better returns for your business than social media marketing.

When calculating the true cost of social media, you need to look at the bigger picture. Some businesses need a robust social marketing initiative and an ongoing management plan to succeed. For example, a fitness instructor seeking to grow his/her instructional Zoom classes or a retailer building up his/her brand for the first should focus on strengthening their social media networks. If you are targeting business-to-business (B2B) customers, however, you will likely be disappointed with the results.

There is a true cost to social media marketing, so use your judgment and make sure to measure the results to determine if your time and money might be better invested somewhere else.

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