We get a lot of inquiries about the cost of social media marketing services, and questions about why we charge what we do in relation to other online PR agencies. Before starting The Content Factory, Joan Barrett and I did a ton of research about professional social media marketing agencies – and quickly came to the conclusion that there was no way we were ever going to charge any of our clients that much.
Mack Collier, one of the thought leaders of the professional social media marketing world and the writer of a fairly awesome blog, wrote a really interesting post about how much online PR costs businesses these days. If there's a guy around who knows what people are charging, it's him — and holy hell do those people ask for a crapload of money! Here's what the industry averages were for 2011 (and no, we're not making any of these numbers up):
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. 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…just for Twitter! That's right, if you want Facebook, you're paying extra.
How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?
If you thought the costs of marketing with Twitter were high, you might want to grab your fainting chair — Facebook marketing rates will give you a case of the vapors. 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. Of course, this also includes status updates and interacting with customers. You know what it doesn't include, though? Strategy. No joke.
If you're shelling out a minimum of $4,500 per month for Facebook and Twitter management, you're not getting any strategy behind the efforts. That costs extra (sort of like adding bacon, but not as tasty). 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 really get anywhere. This is the reason you don't want to outsource this work to your friend who once took a class in marketing at a local community college. Online PR agencies know this, so they make sure to charge you for their expertise. You know, in case they're not getting enough of your money already.
How Much Does Social Media Strategy Cost?
Creating a "comprehensive" strategy for social media marketing and outsourcing all work for all channels (with a minimum of two) costs anywhere from $3,000-$20,000 per month, with the industry average settling between $4,000-$7,000 per month. If you want them 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…I'm betting there's probably an upcharge if your company wants Foursquare, too.
How Much Does an Audit of Twitter and Facebook Cost?
What if you just want an audit of your current 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.
Why Does Social Media Marketing Cost So Much?
Don't ask us, because we don't know. These rates don't even include the cost of content, which means that you still have to pay for blogs, press releases, landing pages and all the other stuff that acts as fuel for social media marketing accounts. Sure, you can link to a lot of great articles on other websites, but what's the point of constantly directing your fans and followers to sites other than your own? Content comes first, and that costs even more.
In our minds, the average price of social media marketing is downright obnoxious. What small business owner can afford such high fees? What medium business owner could? Sure, companies who like to light their money on fire can justify that sort of cost — but what about everyone else? Everyone else is who we like to focus on (our competitors can keep their $20k per month rates…they probably come with a whole lot more harassment from angry clients than we'd be willing to tolerate).
Here's what we do know: many of these online PR agencies outsource the work anyway — we've ended up with some of it, and it's recently become a steady source of business for us.
How Much Does TCF 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 posts about how to write your own website content, free online PR tools and social media marketing tips, and we'll continue to do so as long as there are SEO keywords we can incorporate into them. Below is a list of what The Content Factory offers clients that pay around $5,000/month — it's an all-inclusive plan that takes a three-pronged approach to online PR. There's a healthy mix of superior content writing, traditional PR methods and social media marketing (and it's uber effective for our clients). Free strategy included with every order!
This is what's included in our $5000/month plan, but we're able to negotiate a smaller package for a smaller price tag:
- 3 blog postings a week (SEO enhanced, if you want). We can set up Google Alerts and RSS feeds to check for news related to your industry, so there'll never be a shortage of things to blog/tweet about. For a per-blog rate, we charge $40 per 350-500 word blog (including posting to the site with photo, as well as promotion on our company's Twitter account, which has 4,000+ followers).
- Monitoring of Twitter for related keywords, then pushing links/tweets to those talking about relevant topics. If people are tweeting about it, I'll get an alert and can tell 'em all about your company
- Getting relevant Twitterers to follow you – We hunt you down several hundreds of followers a week, targeting users by location, number of followers, number of updates, bio keywords and tweet keywords.
- Tons of Twitter updates (we average about 7-10 per day for our clients)
- Managing the Facebook fan page, encouraging everyone and their mother to become fans
- SEO keyword research
- Submission to social bookmarking sites
- Monitoring resources like HARO and ProfNet for PR opportunities (see below)
- Running contests/finding other high profile websites to run contests with us
- Writing press releases as needed ($75/each, not including the cost of submission)
- Article writing/pitching as needed
- Contest creation/management as needed. We're big fans of contests, because they can draw all kinds of people to the site who would've never found it otherwise. Plus, they're great for website traffic.
- Social networking submissions like woah. We submit to sites that nobody thinks of, but they certainly drive traffic. We also submit links to old standards like Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc.
One really cool thing that we have access to is something called ProfNet, which is run by the people at PR Newswire. It's basically a network that puts national journalists in touch with business owners for news articles, and I've had a lot of success getting PR opportunities through the site. It costs around $2k/year for a membership, if you wanted to pay for it on your own.
To help make sure we're always on the same page, every month we send our clients a weekly update with the following information:
- New Twitter followers
- New FB fans
- Web traffic stats
- Number of blogs/articles written (with stats to match)
- Feedback quotes from social networking sites
- Links to press mentions we've gotten you/your company
- Whatever other info/stats you want us to keep track of
- Tasks slated for the following month
So, that's what we do and how much we do it for. In the interest of full disclosure: our rates are significantly less than the industry average, and it's entirely possible that larger online PR agencies have more contacts and resources than we currently have access to. For all we know, they're worth every penny of $20,000 a month. When it comes to overall social media marketing value, though, we really can't be beat.
We're also ridiculously talented, extraordinarily crafty when it comes to PR and exceptionally awesome to work with — if you're a good fit for the services we offer. The truth of the matter is that some people just aren't ready to hire a professional social media marketing agency, and we have to turn some of them away. Want to find out if you're a good fit? Check out the five things to ask yourself before hiring people like us, and if you think we'd make a good team shoot us an e-mail!