How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?

The question that we get most often about social media marketing is how much it costs — which makes sense. Like so many major decisions in business and in life, the major constraining factor tends to be your budget (that is, if it isn’t time).

So how much does it cost to outsource social media marketing?

The shortest, easiest (and, admittedly, the least satisfying) answer to this question is this: it varies – a lot. Depending on the experience level of the social media agency you hire, the size of your business, the suite of services you require, and a bunch of other factors, professional social media marketing can cost you anywhere from $1,000 per month to $20,000 per month.

 

This kind of wild discrepancy in cost can make things extremely difficult for business owners and marketing managers who are contemplating outsourcing their social media marketing. The headache of trying to figure out which social media agency to hire, which services you need, and how much money you should spend can cause a lot of anxiety — and even decision-paralysis, which can be deadly when you’re trying to grow a brand.

That’s why we wrote this guide: to give you a clear breakdown of all the information that you need to make the best decision for your business. Let’s start with the question that likely brought you here in the first place and we’ll try to give you a better picture:

How Much Does Social Media Marketing Cost?  

Social media marketing can be broken down into different buckets, generally by channel and by services. Let’s take a look at each:

How Much Does Marketing With Twitter Cost?

Launching a new Twitter account, complete with setup and outsourcing content creation/consumer interaction (all 140 characters at a time), costs an average of $2,000-$4,000 per month – and that’s just for Twitter. With that said, the total price range was $1,000-$7,500 per month.

What if you already have an existing Twitter account, but need some help to take it to the next level? Restructuring an existing Twitter account with “limited coaching” to achieve client goals is still going to cost you between $1,000-$2,500 per month, with some charging as much as $4,000 per month.

We manage social media for several national brands and have developed some truly impressive case studies over the years (a favorite: the tweet that turned into a client being featured in Wired magazine). On multiple occasions, we’ve gotten hashtags we’ve created to trend nationally, and we are very familiar with the amount of customer service, outreach and PR work that’s required via Twitter in particular. Long story short, we know what we’re talking about – and unless you’re a HUGE brand with a significant number of customer service issues that need to be handled via Twitter (think: an airline), there’s no need to spend $4k per month on Twitter alone.

Cost of Marketing with Twitter

How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?

The cost of marketing with Facebook can run a bit higher than that of Twitter alone. To set up a new Facebook account and provide limited ongoing training to business partners, online PR agencies charge an average of $2,500-$5,000 per month, with some going as high as $9,000. However, for most businesses it’s a good idea to bundle these two together (and probably to add on a third and even a fourth channel), which will not only help you increase your audience, but can get you a deal on the price as well.

At TCF, we charge between $4,000 to manage 3 social media channels, including custom graphics, hosting Twitter chats, live tweeting events, creating and managing Twitter lists, and more.

How Much Does Marketing With Other Social Media Channels Cost?

When it comes to social media marketing, Twitter and Facebook are definitely the top two options for businesses. If you’re just getting started, or if you’re working within a tighter budget, we’d definitely recommend that you start there. Every business is different, but from what we’ve seen with our clients Twitter and Facebook tend to provide the greatest ROI, and customers in general will expect that a business has an active profile on both platforms.

However, if you’d like to also do social media marketing on channels like Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and SnapChat, those additional channels can easily cost you $1,000 or more for each one that you add on. That’s a big investment, so you obviously want to be really strategic about which social media platforms you choose and figure out what your path to ROI will be by adding each additional channel. 

Insider Tip: Not every channel is a good match for every business, so when you’re making your decision, be wary of any social media agency that tries to throw the kitchen sink at you. Unless you’re a major, mass market brand (and honestly, even if you are) chances are you don’t need to be on every social media channel under the sun. Here’s a quick look at some of the things you should consider:

Instagram Marketing

Instagram is a highly visual platform that focuses almost entirely on images. If you’re a fashion brand, a company that restores classic cars, or any other kind of business that can consistently create visually compelling content, then Instagram should definitely be on your radar. However, if you’re an accountant, probably not so much.

Pinterest Marketing

Pinterest is another image based platform that allows users to curate and organize images from all over the web in one place. We’ve seen this be a valuable platform for all kinds of different clients, but it’s not for everyone. One of the things that makes Pinterest unique is its demographic makeup, which is predominantly upper-income and female. If that’s your target audience, you definitely want to give Pinterest a look.

SnapChat Marketing

SnapChat is the cool new kid on the block, and with over 100 million daily users, lots of brands and businesses are looking to leverage this platform as part of their social media marketing strategy. However, of all of the social media platforms, this one is by far the most idiosyncratic. SnapChat allows users to send out images and 15-second videos to their followers that disappear either as soon as they are viewed or after 24 hours — which is obviously not ideal for most social media marketing purposes.

 Also, without the more traditional methods of tagging, hashtagging, linking to content, and responding en masse to trending conversations, growing an audience on SnapChat can be a daunting task. While we’ve seen brands make it work with this platform, if you’re just getting started with social media marketing, this probably isn’t where you want to start.

Make sure that you learn more about the social media marketing channels that you sign up for before signing on the dotted line. And if you feel like a social media agency is trying to push services on you that you don’t need, walk away.

Cost of Social Media Marketing Strategy

How Much Does Outsourcing Social Media Advertising Cost?

If you’d like to include paid advertising in your social media management package, that will cost extra, as well. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have paid advertising platforms available, and when done correctly, these social media ad campaigns can pay off big for your brand, with ROI ranging from growing your following to increasing website traffic and sales.

How much should you expect to spend on social media advertising costs? In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from between 10%-20% of the total ad buy to have an agency manage your campaigns for you. If you have a larger budget, you can usually negotiate a percentage on the lower end of that range. There’s also usually a minimum monthly social media ad management fee (ours is $250), so you want to make sure that you’re really ready to make the investment before you take the plunge.

Insider Tip: The reason that paid advertising can be so effective is that it allows you to target very specific audiences with your ads, which can lead to much higher levels of conversion. However, as with anything in the realm of social media management, social media advertising can prove to be a lot more complicated than it sounds.

Do you know what a Facebook pixel is? Do you know how to target your ads to people who have accessed specific content on your website? Do you know the right image dimensions for a Facebook ad and the best image-to-text ratio to ensure that your ads are approved? If you don’t, you’re not alone.

You can practically get an MBA in this stuff for the amount of time that it can take to learn everything you need to know. That’s why, unless you have a significant amount of time to invest in getting it right, the best way to ensure that you’re getting ROI for your social media ad buy is to bring in a team who has the experience and expertise to do the job right. For a lot of brands, outsourcing social media ad management is the best option.

What About Social Media Strategy?

Here’s something to consider: all of the prices that we listed above include status updates and interacting with customers. You know what it doesn’t include, though? Strategy.

Some agencies charge a minimum of $4,500 per month for Facebook and Twitter management, but won’t include any strategy behind the efforts. That costs extra, as if asking for social media strategy is like adding for guacamole to your order. We’re of the opinion that guac should always come with the order, which is why we include strategy as part of our social media marketing packages (and why wouldn’t we? The alternative is to charge for working with no strategy, which makes no sense).

Now, we’ll admit that the strategy is the most important part — you’ve got to go into social media marketing with a game plan and a list of goals, or you’ll never achieve the ROI you’re looking for. This is the reason you don’t want to outsource your company’s social media management to the intern who can’t stay off Snapchat. Online PR agencies know this, so they make sure to charge you for their expertise.

Cost of Paid Social Media Advertising


How Much Does Social Media Strategy Cost?

It’s easy to get fake famous on social media channels, and apparently it’ll only cost you $6,800. Although it may sound impressive to have 1 million “likes” on Facebook, your charade will be exposed the second somebody checks out your page and sees that nobody ever likes, comments or shares your content.

Creating a comprehensive strategy for social media marketing and outsourcing all work for all channels (with a minimum of two social networks) costs anywhere from $3,000-$20,000 per month, with the industry average settling between $4,000-$7,000 per month. If you want the social media agency to start the accounts from scratch and consult on a 4- to 12-month contract, you’ll pay between $3,000-$15,000 per month.

What do they mean by channels, minimum of two? That’s just a fancy way of saying that the cost includes both Facebook and Twitter…and there will likely be an upcharge for adding any other channels.


Insider Tip: If you’re doing market research to figure out your customer/client’s persona(s) and preferences, it’s possible to legitimatize a $20,000 spend to gather the background info and data points necessary to execute a killer social media campaign. But otherwise, you can probably get much of the same for less money.

Also, most of the “strategy” aspect of social media carries over from client to client. For instance, the tactics we use for a B2B client in the business coaching space aren’t all that different from the tactics we use for a B2B client in the cloud computing space. In both cases, we focus on using Twitter as a PR tool to reach out to journalists who cover the space, interact with them, get on their radar and prime them for when we send an actual pitch. This way, they know who the client is before we ever officially contact them on the client’s behalf.

Additionally, in both B2B cases we also use Twitter as a way to engage with thought leaders in the space – we often end up getting them to write guest content for the client’s blog or quotes that we can use in a post we write ourselves. For both the business coach and the cloud service provider we also focus on interacting with current and potential clients, share client insights on industry news, etc. In fact, we use most of these same social media marketing tactics in the B2C space as well.

Before writing the retainer check, ask yourself what you’re really getting for a $20k monthly spend on strategy alone. Are you getting a unique social media marketing strategy tailor made for your business, or a slightly customized version of a tried-and-true method for achieving social media success? Chances are, it’s the latter – and for good reason, because they’ve got a formula that consistently works! But don’t let yourself be charged extra for creating a wheel that’s already been invented.

Cost of Instagram Advertising

How Much Does an Audit of Twitter and Facebook Cost?

What if you just want an audit of your current social media strategy, with a few pointers on how to improve? Better bust out the AmEx, because it’s going to cost you anywhere from $2,000-$10,000. The lower- to mid-range of this spectrum seems reasonable, especially if you add in the cost of social media training and competitive analysis. The only way to justify a $10k spend is if you represent a large company with many digital assets (and competitors with similar online profiles) and/or the social media consultant actually flies out to your office and does an in-depth, in-person training over the course of a couple of days.


Insider Tip: If you decide to go for an ongoing social media package at a monthly rate, do not let the agency charge you extra for an audit of your current social activity. Here’s the thing: any reputable social media marketing agency is going to audit your social channels in the process of coming up with a proposal, developing a strategy and then executing it. The work is being done anyway, and for the most part it doesn’t take a whole lot of time – if you don’t include competitive analysis, a social media audit can be done in an afternoon.

Does My Business Need A Social Media Strategy?

Our answer is an emphatic YES. Investing in social media marketing without having a strategy is like buying a car and not knowing how to drive. It’s like trying to use a gas grill without a propane tank. It’s like putting a sweet new entertainment center in a house without electricity. We think you get our point.

Social media platforms are a tool that can help you market your business, but unless you know how to use it to generate tangible ROI for your business, you’re only setting yourself up to waste time and money. And the truth is that social media strategy is a lot more complicated and involved than you probably think.

Why Does Social Media Marketing (And Strategy) Cost So Much?

There’s a pretty common misconception that social media marketing is a quick and easy way to market business, because anyone can set up a Facebook page, right? But social media marketing is so much more than setting up profile and sending out some tweets. From audience and list building, to the right image sizes to use for each platform, to which kinds of posts convert the best, to leveraging your social media posts to create PR opportunities…there is an endless and ever-changing list of skills, tools and best practices that social media marketers have to stay on top of in order to consistently provide ROI to their clients.

We could try to explain all of the incredible things that an expertly planned and implemented social media strategy can do for your business, but when it comes to this sort of thing, we’re all about the show instead of the tell. Here are just a few of some of our favorite social media marketing case studies that we’ve put together over the last few months, to give you an idea of what’s possible when you hire a social media agency that’s serious about strategy:

Nationally Trending Hashtags

When it comes to hosting Twitter Chats, we literally wrote the book (or at least the comprehensive guide), and our clients get the benefit of that knowledge each and every month. Here’s a screenshot of the analytics report from a recent Twitter Chat hosted by our Senior Account Executive Jason Myers for Fairtrade America:

Cost of Social Media Management: Twitter Chat

The hashtag for monthly Twitter Chats that Jason hosts for Fairtrade America consistently ranks in the top 50 on Twitter, and for this chat it made it to #25. That combined with the 195 participants, 3,978 tweets in one hour, and 7,193,278 timeline deliveries translated into a huge win for the client.

Engaging With Influencers And Celebrities

One of the best ways to build your audience and grow your reach is to engage with industry influencers and celebrities — but that’s obviously a lot easier said than done. It takes a ton of social listening, a killer instinct for making connections, and (admittedly) some pretty pricey PR tools to get the job done.

Our Senior Account Executive Alayna Frankenberry gets these kinds of high-profile engagements for her client Astroglide all the time. Just check out what happened when actor and former NBA star Rick Fox mentioned Astroglide on a recent episode of Celebrity Name Game:

Cost of Social Media Marketing: Influencers

Alayna was alerted to the mention through one of our fancy PR tools (something that someone without access to those tools likely would have missed) and immediately jumped on making the scene from the show into a gif. The gif was then shared on Astroglide’s account with a mention directed at Rick Fox’s account. Then the magic happened:

Cost of Social Media Marketing: Twitter

And that, my friends, is how a couple hours of work and a little creativity can make your brand buddy-buddy with a celeb (or TV show). We’ve worked similar magic to get Chris Harrison, since we live tweet The Bachelor/ette/In Paradise franchise on behalf of Astroglide.

Securing Earned Media Coverage

Then there’s the time we were at CES with a client, live tweeting the event. While monitoring Twitter for keywords based around the event, we saw and responded to Mat Honan of Wired:

Cost of Social Media Marketing: Twitter

This turned into the client being featured in Wired, with a glowing review of their product.

These are just a few examples of what a solid, well-executed social media strategy can do. When done right, social media marketing can help to generate traffic to your website, build your audience, foster positive and meaningful engagement with your customers, and even pay off with earned media coverage. Sure, it’s expensive, but if you can find a team that can consistently deliver ROI, it is one of the best investments you can make in your business.

When It Comes to the Cost of Social Media Marketing, We Know Our Stuff

This comprehensive guide on the cost of social media marketing has been literal years in the making. We’ve included everything that we’ve learned from our years in the industry and have gone through great pains to make sure that all of the information that we’ve included here is accurate and up-to-date.

We’re confident that this is the single best resource about the cost of social media marketing that you’re going to find anywhere online. The price ranges for social media marketing services we’re reporting in this post has been sourced online, as well as with our own (transparent – see below) pricing and the price lists of other agencies we’ve worked with (not as transparent – to get this info yourself you’ll have to sit through three conference calls and a proposal).

Our colleagues in the field and other industry leaders seem to agree, as this post has been linked to and shared all over the web. Here are just a handful of examples – check them out, because they’re also great resources themselves:

All of this is to say that, if you’re looking for the most accurate and comprehensive information about the cost of social media marketing, you’re definitely in the right place.

How Much Does The Content Factory Charge for Social Media Marketing?

We’re not particularly secretive about our rates, or how we do what we do. We’ve written a lot of informative posts about topics like successful trade show marketing techniques, the cost of outsourcing website content, and expensive blogging mistakes to avoid, and we’ll continue to do so as long as there are SEO keywords we can incorporate into them.

As a result, several of our posts rank #1 for highly competitive keywords, and our site generates around $500,000 per year in organic search traffic. We’ve developed an online marketing strategy that works, not just for us but for our clients as well.

Below is a list of what The Content Factory offers clients that pay between $7,000 and $10,000/month — it’s an all-inclusive plan that takes a three-pronged approach to online marketing (and yes, strategy is included – you can click here to see a full rundown of our services and rates):

  1. Web content writing and content marketing
  2. PR
  3. Social media marketing

The web content writing and content marketing aspect of our social media services tends to deliver the greatest ROI over time – this blog post that you’re reading right now is a very good example of content strategy and marketing in action.

Currently, this post ranks #1 in the search engine results pages for a variety of search terms related to “cost of social media marketing” and “how much does social media marketing cost” – there’s a good chance that you found this post via a Google search, which is and always has been the primary intention of our blogging efforts.

SEO can be a passive lead generating machine, and if you target the right keywords your website can be the #1 performer on your sales team. Investing in social media marketing without first investing in content and content strategy is pretty much guaranteed to waste your money – and we have no problem telling you that upfront, because it’s better that you hear it from us and in advance than after you’ve spent thousands of dollars without seeing many real results.

Adding PR to the mix provides an excellent source of high quality backlinks to your site, on top of the obvious benefit of increasing your company’s profile and driving site traffic/interest. If you’re serious about SEO and social media marketing, you should be serious about online PR.

For between $7,000-$10,000 per month, here’s a rough outline of the social media marketing, digital PR, web content writing and content marketing you can get with The Content Factory – and we’re also able to negotiate a smaller package for a smaller price tag:

Social Media Marketing

Each social media network is listed below, with details about what is included on a regular basis:

Facebook

  • Unique Posts – We will post 2-3 times on your Facebook page, on average, every day. These posts will be a combination of custom graphics, calls to action to visit the website and company-based news.
  • Content Promotion – Every piece of unique content that we write for you will be promoted on social media. Not only will this increase the number of people who will read this content, but it will improve your SEO as well.
  • Interacting with Other Pages – To help catch the eye of complementary, non-competing businesses. This will lead to more sharing of company content and status updates and introduce people to the brand.
  • Creating Custom Images – Up to two custom graphics per week
  • Customer Service – When people are unhappy or happy about a program or product, they’ll often head to social media to voice their opinions. We’ll respond to any feedback that’s received promptly and courteously. We’ll also answer any questions that potential users may have.
  • Facebook Ads – A $150 ad budget per month is part of our social media services. This includes:
    • Ad concept and copy
    • Management of the campaign
    • Analytic reports
    • Graphic design/appropriate paid for stock photo
    • Audience targeting
    • Adjusting ads as needed to maximize results
    • Determining what content is best to send them to
    • A/B testing between multiple ads within the same campaign

We can target whomever you’d like us to with Facebook ads, and if you want to spend more per month on ads we can accommodate that growth. If the campaign goes well and you want to expand, we charge a 10% ad management fee with a $250/month minimum fee.

Twitter

  • Daily Tweets – An average of 7-10 tweets a day. Approximately 20-30% of the content will be self promotional, the rest of the focus will be on providing value to the community and interacting with the company’s target audience.
  • Hashtag Creation and Management – We’ll keep a close eye on trending topics, and when appropriate, jump in on the conversation using the appropriate hashtag. This will help increase visibility of the company, as well as lead to more followers and interaction.
  • Interacting for PR Purposes – One of the most effective uses of Twitter is as a PR tool. Journalists are active on Twitter, and regularly use it to find sources to quote in their articles. We’ll create lists of journalists, bloggers and industry influencers to target on Twitter, build relationships and introduce them to the company. This is one of the fastest ways Twitter can deliver ROI.
  • Content Promotion – We’ll continually share company content, which will help drive traffic to the site and raise awareness of the brand. This also sends signals to the search engines that your content is worth sharing, which can help improve the site’s SEO.
  • Customer Service – We’ll monitor for people tweeting about the company, even if they don’t @them directly. If they have something awesome to say, we’ll make sure to retweet, favorite and let everyone know. If they have something negative to say, we’ll let you know immediately and respond to them promptly and courteously. And if they have questions, we’ll answer them right away.
  • Keyword Monitoring – We’ll use Hootsuite to monitor for people talking about particular topics relevant to your company, and jump in and interact as necessary.
  • Twitter Chats – We’ll participate in one Twitter chat per month on behalf of your brand. If no Twitter chats exist, we can create and manage our own (this isn’t easy, but we know what we’re doing).

Google+

  • Updates – Studies have shown that daily updates on Google+ directly impact how well your site is ranked after 90 days. A percentage of these updates will link back to the company site directly, having an even greater impact on SEO.
  • Communities – Many people use Google+ just for the purpose of engaging in the communities on the social network, and we’ll be active in all the relevant ones. We’ll check out what already exists and create our own communities when
  • Adding Targeted Pages To Circles – Similar to Twitter lists, and effective in helping to regularly interact with the right people.
  • Hashtags – We’ll include appropriate hashtags in updates. People use hashtags to search for posts that they’re interested in, so we’ll make sure that we’re using the ones that are the most relevant and popular.

Pinterest

  • Original Pins – We’ll create original pins that will promote the company and engage people who love what it offers, but don’t know it yet. Infographics with writing tips, humorous memes, etc. are all great types of content that will get repinned, and put the company in front of the right audience. An average of three per day is included.
  • Engagement – Interacting and pinning content from other sites that have a “Pin It” button next to them will help to build the relationships you need to bring the company to the next level. This will also ensure that you’re not being viewed by users as being overly self promotional.
  • Creating Boards – We’ll create an average of one new board a week, based on what your followers are interested in.

LinkedIn

  • Updates – An average of two posts on the company’s LinkedIn page, which will reach those following it. All blog posts, articles and press mentions will be promoted via the page.
  • Interaction – Following other LinkedIn pages, focusing on thought leaders and companies that are related to your brand, but  are not your competitors. We’ll share their content periodically when it is the type of content that speaks to your audience.
  • LinkedIn Group Involvement – Joining in and engaging with members of LinkedIn groups. This will increase engagement from those not already following the company page and drive traffic back to the website. We will join 5-7 group discussions a week. This includes promoting content from the site when appropriate.
  • LinkedIn Group Management – Post once a week in each at least and jump into the discussions others are having when appropriate.
  • Ad management – You provide the budget and we manage the targeting, monitoring and reporting. This will allow your posts to reach individuals and businesses who aren’t already familiar with your brand, who fit into your target audience and will convert into leads. (Additional ad management fee: 10% of ad budget)

Images

  • Copyright – We will only use images that we have the rights to. They will be stock photos, custom graphics (up to one per week) and photos that you provide us with, unless they are shared promoting another article. We always use the optimal images sizes for each social network.

Publicity and PR Services

The right PR campaign can deliver millions of dollars worth of ad placement – we’ve done it in the past with other clients. We’ll work with you to develop a PR strategy to introduce as many people as possible to your company.

Here’s what’s included with our PR services:

Strategic Campaign Development

Creative campaign development is one of our favorite parts of the job – it’s also a critical aspect of your overall PR strategy. We’ll work with you to identify stories that the media will be likely to latch onto, and then work to get the word out via press release, social media and content initiatives.

Targeting Media Contacts

We have access to agency-only PR tools that give us the contact information and editorial calendars of every U.S. media outlet – from producers of national TV news programs to local reporters at small-town newspapers. This enables us to pitch the company directly to reporters, talent bookers and segment producers, which we’ve had a lot of success with. Additionally, we’ve built our own list of media contacts that we’ve worked with over the years, including reporters at the Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC and Forbes.

Responding to Reporter Queries

When journalists are looking for sources for their stories, they use a variety of services that let them mass-email their queries to PR agencies (and we’re one of them). This puts us in direct contact with reporters looking for expert sources for their articles, TV segments, podcasts and radio shows. We’ll respond to these reporter queries on your behalf. In the past, this has resulted clients being featured everywhere from the Today show to the Huffington Post.

Identifying Guest Blogging Opportunities

Another strategy to improve SEO and drive traffic to the company’s site is to write content and get it published on other websites. These posts will feature favorable SEO anchor text that links back to the company’s website, increasing brand visibility and backlinks. This will help reach more of your target audience.

Press Release Writing and Distribution (not included — $2,000 individually or $1,500 as part of a larger package)

For our thoughts on press release writing and distribution, including what works (and doesn’t), check out this blog post by TCF’s owner, Kari DePhillips.

Building relationships with reporters and regularly sending press releases are a critical aspect of the PR process. We’ll work with you to develop compelling stories that the press can latch onto, then write and distribute a press release to get the news picked up.

Press release distribution includes writing the release itself – including all edits, advance email distribution to relevant press contacts (which gives them a 24- to 48-hour head start on the story), national distribution and follow-up with reporters, editors and producers at relevant media outlets. You’ll also receive a report that details release pickups, unique coverage by journalists, traffic sent to the website and notable interactions, plus a complete list of outlets that the release was distributed to.

 

Content and Content Marketing

Blogging

By creating unique content your clients want to read and promoting the blogs via social media and other content marketing methods, we’ll attract significantly more traffic to your site over the next three months. It starts with optimizing the blog itself, which we can do with a variety of plugins and SEO tweaks.

We write thousands of blogs each year for our clients, and we’ve found it’s not about how much content you post to your site, but how targeted the content is and how well you’re able to promote it. This is also true of the SEO side of blogging, and there’s a very intense strategy to that – our writers take great pains to ensure each post is optimized, including formatting, internal and external linking, etc.

We rotate through four different types of blog posts:

  • In-industry link bait – We include quotes from at least 3 experts in each of these posts, focusing on those that have large social media followings of their own. This way, we can leverage their networks to drive more traffic to the site (experts often share links to blog posts they’re featured in). This also sends good signals to search engine crawlers, which value content that gets shared via social networks. (1,500+ words each, $750 individually.)
  • In-depth posts – These are targeted to potential buyers and have a heavy SEO focus. These long-form posts are designed to draw in organic search traffic, and can be a great way to passively generate leads on a consistent basis. Research has shown that the latest Google algorithm updates favor long-form content, and posts that have 2,000 words or more tend to generate the biggest SEO returns over time. (2,000+ words, $950 individually. 3,000+ words, $1450 individually.) *** If your goal is to improve organic traffic, in-depth posts are the best way to go.
  • List blogs – List posts are clickable, readable and shareable content that should be incorporated into any solid blogging strategy. We recommend occasionally incorporating complementary experts, companies and events in order to catch their attention and get them to help promote the content – again, leveraging other networks to increase the size of your own. (1,000+ words, $500 individually.)
  • Observation posts – These provide observations about subjects your customers may be interested in. Alternately, they can be brand storytelling posts that highlight your expertise or specific case studies. (500-600 words, $250 individually or 300-400 words, $150 individually.)

Content can be priced by the piece on an individual basis. We can also design custom content to go along with PR campaign and content marketing initiatives.

Guest Blogging

One of the fastest and most effective ways to generate backlinks, significantly increase referral traffic and get more people contacting you is to write guest blogs on a regular basis. If you’ll write them, we’ll edit them and pitch ‘em around. Alternately, we can swap out on-site blogs for off-site blogs, which we can ghostwrite under your name and send it over for your approval before finding a home for it on a larger site.

Analytics and Reporting

You’ll receive a thorough report each month, which details:

  • Progress on PR – what’s pending publishing, what we’re currently working on and what we’re lining up for the future.
  • Increases in social media following, referral traffic and engagement
  • Changes in site traffic
  • Changes in Alexa ranking
  • Number of keywords you’re ranking for (and how many are in positions 1-3 and 4-10)
  • Referral traffic – interesting referrers, percentage increases, etc.
  • Organic traffic – keywords, PPC value, percentage increase, etc.
  • Popular content – this helps to determine what your readers are most interested in, so we can generate more of it (and link more to existing popular content)
  • Opportunities via PR and social media
  • Interesting stories the brand may be able to take advantage of

 

So, that’s what we do and how much we do it for – you can click herefor a downloadable version of this pricing sheet, including a list of our à la carte services.

Interested in our consulting services? We’ll train anyone you want on the ins and outs of social media for a one-time $3,500 fee which includes training via GoToMeeting or Skype, a strategy session and our comprehensive social media guide. Want to find out if you’re a good fit? Check out the five things to ask yourself before hiring an online marketing agency, and if you think we’d make a good team contact us today!

 

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120 Comments

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    • These are actually really reasonable rates, especially if you look at what other agencies charge. Can every small business owner afford to outsource social media marketing? No — but for many, it’s cheaper than bringing in somebody in-house. For one person to do what we do, they’d have to work a minimum of 30 hours a week (and even then, that doesn’t take into account tools like ProfNet and Vocus, which cost thousands of dollars a year).

    • Best of luck trying to do any of this on your own.  It is immensely time consuming, creatively  challenging ( be sure to edit hard) and constantly educational on the technical end.  Ask me.  Marketing is always 15% of your annual income, and a funny thing happens when you don't do it. NOTHING.   Meanwhile everyone else is doing it and rising to the top in a sea of same-talent business, now global.  There is no choice, it's a part of your cost of doing business and must be put into your Biz Plan.  There are alternatives, though. You can ask me about that. 

      ~ R 

       

       

    • The average fashion brand spends 25% of its revenue on marketing. So, new brands without much revenue are left in the dust before they even start. 

  • Thanks for the info, the industry averages really help a lot. I work at an angel investment group and we try to find the best deals for the companies we invest in so that we feel comfortable with the investment’s direction. Sounds like you guys have a decent set-up

  • I have spent more time than I wish I had trying to understand the price points of social media marketing. The prices your team have quoted for social media and copywriting seem very reasonable.

    I don’t believe I have come across another site that is as transparent as you guys are. Being new to social media strategy, I have been scouring the Web for information resources and this definitely qualifies as such. Keep up the solid work!

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  • I just wanted to address the ‘I don’t know how a firm justifies these numbers’ issue. While obviously small and even medium sized businesses would have a hard time managing that $10,000/m fee for a social media agency, we need to remember that the cost for a small or medium sized business wouldn’t be that much either. While its true some agencies charge more just to distinguish themselves in the market, for others those charges represent real costs and mark-ups.

    Say you’re a fairly well known brand with even just two social media platforms running. You’ve got approximately 100,000 unique followers or fans, with 2% of them interacting with your brand on a regular (let’s say weekly) basis. By interacting I mean mentioning you, commenting on a post/retweeting, or sharing your content. That’s 2000 responses your team needs to be monitoring/thanking/interacting with a week. Even if 20% of those are complaints (let’s face it, people love to share their bad news), you’re monitoring and doing damage control on 208 posts a year that could hit at anytime and need to be addressed right away to avoid snowballing.

    You need a minimum of 1 person monitoring your social media at all time. Even at an entry-level pay, this would cost your company 130k per year before benefits. That in itself is over 10k a month. Then add in the cost of an experienced social media manager, graphic designer, ad campaigns, etc.

    This is where a company can save with an agency, even if they do charge what seems like an enormous amount.

    Now to you guys (TCF), I’d say the cost for service you offer sounds like a great value and I’m not trying to knock it. Especially if it’s quality writing and strategy. I just wanted to put out there a pricing explanation for people who think a social media agency is charging 10k a month for the fun of it.

    • Hey Jessica,

      Totally agreed – and obviously the story is much different for larger brands with an established base. In those cases, I think $10k per month (or more) is entirely justified, especially if you’re talking about designing and running big campaigns. But a lot of these agencies charge small businesses that much – and I’ve seen it because a few of these agencies contract the work out to us on a white-label basis. I think that charging a small business that much is borderline criminal, and most of the companies will go bankrupt before they’ll see a return on that investment.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Kari

    • Absolutely agree with you, Jessica. The truth of the matter is that many are not educated on the value of building relevant and sustainable social media community, or that these are the very real cost of providing this service.

      While charging a start-up $10K (what it costs) for this service may seem like murder, that is what it costs. Understanding their budgets, however, what start-ups can do is get training, attend workshops and do lower-end audits, and attach themselves to social media blogs that keep them on track, to try to get themselves off to a good start until they can afford to completely outsource their social media management.

      • Thanks for your comment Crystal! Often times, a consultation or training is the best choice for a small start up with a limited budget. We’ll train any business owner, intern or anyone else in house on an hourly basis. We’ve even trained quite a few people who have had no social media marketing experience, but because they were given the right tools and training, they were able to, as you say “get themselves off to a good start.”

      • Hi I am so amazed to hear all about these price quotes. I never knew that social media marketing prices were so outrageous. We are about to set up a site which will help businesses with they social media marketing and SEO and we don't want to under price our selves too much or over price either. But this idea of out sourcing is great, I did did suggested to my partners before but now I'm convinced we should do it because it's a lot of work that goes into this business, I am so happy I ran into this blog. Thanks guys, you made it so easy for me.

      • That's absolutely right. Those who understand social media know the easiest and most basic truth: social media depends is all about network effects. By definition, that means that spending 5000$ to get x amount of likes is worth much less than spending 2000$ to grow an actual community. The reason for that is although you can reach more people with 5000$, they will most likely forget about you due to content overflow and will most definitely not be the ones to "share" your post when you really need it. A community will share your post, meaning that the "network effect" can become effective. I'm using a tool to stay in touch with every single of my influencers now called http://www.socialhub.io. Relationship is key. But when people have the wrong goal in mind and are willing to spend money on irrelevant metrics, then social media marketing software companies will of course raise their pricing 🙂

    • Hi Jessica,

      I think I misunderstood something.

      Did you say entry level pay for one person is $130,000? If you were paying that much, you'd have a hundred thousand resumés in your inbox.

      If it wasn't a typo, where did you get the $130,000 number? (I figured it might be a typo because you made a double math mistake in using 20% a week to arrive at 208 per year – which would be 400 a week if it's 20% of 100k and I can't figure where the 8 came from)

      In our experience, you could hire 3 people for $130,000, which would mean that each one would be dealing with just over 15 posts an hour based on your 20% math. 

       

    • $130,000 a year for an entry level social media manager? Um, no.

      The agencies expertise, content writing, and overall strategy (connecting with the right people), are what you're paying for. 

      John Parikhal is absolutely correct.

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  • Excellent post, thanks for the very informative analysis! And an extra appreciation for the transparency in sharing your rates vs industry standards. I always found it peculiar that so many businesses that offer these services are so secretive about their rates, now I understand why!

    I think excellent points can be made for both sides of the coin – rates in the thousands are totally justified for big business, but there’s no way any one should expect a small business owner to be willing to invest that kind of money in social media. For this reason, it’s really hard to have a one price fits all mentality with social media management. On the one hand, a small business doesn’t have the following (i.e. customer comments, question, engagement) that a big business has, but at the same time, most of the small business owners have very little understanding of social media. So rather than spending time posting and encouraging fan engagement, managing a small business’ social media presence involves a much heavier level of education for the business owner. I guess the bottom line is – there’s no one right answer.

    Thanks for sharing though, this post was very helpful!

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  • The prices are really high because the industry is not regulated. Everybody does pretty much what they want.

    I usually work on a client-by-client basis and try to offer services that take the size of their wallets into account. Small businesses often can’t afford to shell thousands of dollars per month, just for Facebook or Twitter.

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    • Hi Tim,

      Can you detail what all is included for $500 per month? How many posts per day, how many social channels is included and what type of interaction and targeting is included at that price rate? 

      Simply put, $500 per month isn’t enough to pay somebody to care about what they’re doing. None of the social media marketers we work (or are in competition) with could pay an employee $500 per month for social media work and attract any kind of real SMM talent. Certainly not for multiple channels.

      Maybe your services are awesome, I really have no idea. But at that rate, I have to think that your clients get what they pay for – not much.

      Kari

      • Agreed, Kari.

        Tim, I understand wanting to put a price point that people can afford – I genuinely get that – but truly:

        1. If you are undervaluing yourself, they will too: It's not just the labor, but the intelligence, the research and the analytics that you wind up doing, inevitably, to ensure that you're building a community that won't go dormant in 3 months. When I first started, I did what you're doing, only for clients to show me that underpricing myself made it difficult for them to value my time. Even if you just post – with no strategy – that's too low.

        2. People don't value what they didn't pay for: I've seen this happen in the engineering industry in Ontario as well. Engineer companies just kept underbidding each other until they bid so low that they couldn't even cover the cost of providing engineering services. Social media has started as an undervalued service, despite the PR crises and stagnated communities that keep popping up. If we really want to help our clients, then we really have to be able to provide the service – which costs.

        3. Pricing affects significance in the minds of customers: when the client starts reviewing business plans and projections for budgeting, social media will not be effectively integrated and their PR, Communications, Marketing and even R&D, HR and Partnership prospects will suffer because social media strategy affects every business function it touches.

        Food for thought.

  • Thank you for sharing this. It's important to start educating the online populace about the real cost of providing social media services. I almost cried when someone offered me $25/month (that's correct, per month) to 'manage her Facebook page'. Once I explained that social media management to truly protect and develop your brand is a professional service, they were taken aback.

    I'd just like to say thank you, and that I'll be posting this everywhere. These were posted between 2011 and 2013: http://www.bluecloudsolutions.com/blog/social-media-cost/http://www.mackcollier.com/how-much-does-social-media-cost-in-2011/, so this update on pricing is very relevant.

    Successiory is a social media consulting firm that targets small- and medium-sized businesses that have the capital to at least invest in preparation for in-house social media management and helps them start thinking honestly about what they need to outsource later on. Here's hoping this lends support to our industry.

    Cheers, everyone! Here's to a great 2014.

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  • Word.  I couln't have said it better. I specialize in Marketing and Public Relations in the Wine Industry.

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  • Excellent Article!  Exactly what I needed and have been hunting for on Google. I finally found this so your SEO paid off. Look forward to following up with you in the future.  Could you do an article on mobile app marketing strategy too including costs as that is my current focus, (or send info my way).Thanks again for your transparency.  It shouldn't have to be this hard to get information.  Thanks….

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  • Lovely Article.. Social Media strategy must be aimed at engagement with the community of potential customer. I perhaps do not agree with the cost factors that are mentioned in the above article. 

    Faiz

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  • "Why Does Social Media Marketing Cost So Much?

    Don't ask us, because we don't know. "

    In resonse to that, it costs a lot because managers need to value their time / effort / and resources needed (like paying their team) — all that is included in the price.  😉

    ~Devani

  • How much would you estimate it should cost per month if a social media marketer is *just* posting to (for instance) Pinterest? I'm a sole-proprietor that designs wedding invitations and I just hired someone to help me keep up with my social media posts. However, my business doesn't make more than $25,000 per year (income, that's after expenses are taken out). So I have to start out low for now, which is why she is just starting out with 1 social media platform and only posting as many times a day as I can afford. What would a fair payment be for something like this? Thank you!!

    • Hi Teresa,

      In this instance, I’d recommend going the DIY route – unless this social media marketer is a total rock star, you’re unlikely to see ROI. And, at this stage in your business, it’s important to use social media on a personal level to help you identify trends, connect with leaders in your industry, etc. This can help you refine your tone and approach, bring about strategic parternships and ensure that you’re taking advantage of as many opportunities as possible. A part-time one-channel-only social media hire is not likely to identify these types of things on the same level you would.

      With social media, it’s not about how many posts per day you pay for and receive – it’s about achieving the overall objective of your social marketing strategy. If you’re paying per post, you’re not looking at the right metrics and are setting yourself up for failure (and probably haven’t found the right marketing partner). 

      Here’s a Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest that can help get you started. Thanks for your question!

      Kari

       

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  • Oh. yes, These prices are not cheap. But I guess this is for established firms not for startups which is done on employees own time.

  • Good sharing! There are hundreds of business buying Instagram likes to increase their authority, we found one for example. The price start as low as $1 ! I would say this is not a bad idea, but not really for personal. For company, you can incorporate this as part of the marketing activities. Just my 2 cents.

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  • Hi,

    my post went missing so I am reposting. Apologizes if it is duplicated anywhere.

     

    So my situation is the following:  I am just starting in social media "managment".  I started by helping my friend with her business, I take care of the social media by keeping her channels up-to-date.  Right now, she is with Facebook, Twitter and Google +.  I take care of her daily posts, replies, post fun day images, ask questions to intrigue interaction etc. Now one of her clients has asked me to do the same for her company.  My friend pays me hourly like an employee and although it may be wrong that is how it started. How do I go about billing/charging the new client.  Do I charge her hourly? If so, how much is reasonable? What about a package of hours? again, how many for how much? That being said, how to I categorize how much time is involved for posts?  WHat about research time? I also was jsut told about a grand reopening event she wants me to attend to gather actual pictures etc to be able to post "live" while on site.  How or what do you charge then?  This is again where I am lost, any and all help is appreciated. TIA, Karen

    • Hi Karen,

      It’s difficult to say how much you should charge for your social media marketing services. What kind of results have you delivered so far? What’s your experience in social media? The more experience you have and the more success stories you can point to, the more you’ll be able to charge. You should probably charge the new client more than you charge your friend (unless you’re planning on giving everyone friends and family pricing). 

      We don’t charge by the hour for social media marketing, because there’s so much that goes into it that is difficult to keep track of. Do you bill for research and endless Google searches? What about the tools that you use to get the job done efficiently – you know those aren’t cheap, and should factor into your pricing structure. Do you charge for status calls? What about the time it takes to put together a progress report? This is why monthly package billing for social media management is preferable to us.

      Events are a whole other kettle of fish, and can take 20+ hours to prep for (check out our blog post on how to market businesses at trade shows and events for more info on that). 

      Hope this helps!

      Kari

       

       

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  • Did you mean to say, "Helping your write articles, then pitching to major publications?"
    Just checking…  *smile*

  • You think these rates are reasonable? This a complete rip off and your numbers on the cost of socail media advertising are not correct. I work with a few of top social media management / advertising companies and the going rate for a premium package is about 300 / month. If you are looking for a great solution without forking over thousands and be locked into a contract then shoot me an email and I can tell you who I work with for these services in my own business.

  • Thank you for writing this!  So helpful for a number of reasons.  I agree with some of the above, prices would vary depending on the size and location of the company, but this is a great starting point.  

    Keep up the good work!

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  • It is true that 44% of small businesses do not have a website or
    blog. For skeptics, all you need to do is test this notion out.
    While it’s no exact science it’s my hope this info will last well when determining who
    you would like to sign with. For this to happen, you should be as diligent about the search optimization on your
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  • This post really gives an insight into how much money is being invested in the social media campaign and this has really made me think of "how to improve the strategy for social media marketing?" guys this post is awesome and its a must to read, before investing huge amount of dollars with agencies claim themselves as expert in social media marketing. There are lot of things to really work and this post has brought all the ideas under one roof.

    Thanks guys and looking forward for more such eye-opening facts and driving ideas for a great business

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  • I can’t do marketing promotions for myself; I should outsource! So how do you know when to DIY and when to let someone else take the wheel? When I asked myself these questions I searched for a good marketing agency and found Askanny that all my website’s plans took in time, saved my money and expertise. It is very hard to make for your own a good and right promotion. Better to hire an agency and relax knowing you will succeed…

  • thats a good question, it really depends on how good you are at social media marketing, if you are really poor then it can cost alot due to not having good quality score etc.

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