When searching for an agency to manage your company’s social media, you will soon find that the options are practically limitless. But when it comes to finding a reputable, trustworthy company with a track record of results, you’ll need to research a little deeper. In this article we review the different social media options and costs associated with each service.
What do you look for? What social media packages are important? What is a fair price for social media management?
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you by exploring available social media marketing packages and pricing, and reviewing the pros and cons.
There are many options when choosing to outsource your social media marketing (which is why it can seem overwhelming). From virtual assistants who post an update on your Facebook page a few times a week, to full-service agencies that handle every aspect of your online branding and marketing, there are suitable programs for everyone.
Priorities: What do you want to get out of your Social Media Marketing?
If you are clear on your priorities and objectives, it will be easy to narrow down your search.Once you identify the outcomes you desire, you can begin to structure an appropriate social media program. First, let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that professional social media management can provide:
- A consistent, attractive, up-to-date presence
When anyone lands on your page, you want it to look current, and you want your posts to show you off as the brilliant expert that you are.
For this outcome, you may only need timely, relevant updates posted on your social media page(s) at least several times each week. A social media package that focuses exclusively on content development and daily posting (including posts that highlight your expertise, deliver current industry news & trends, and share value with your target audience) may be ideal for you.
- Increased awareness of your brand
You want your target audience to know your (or your company’s) name and think of you when they need your products or services. You want to be regarded as the expert and thought leader in your industry.
In addition to content development and posting on multiple platforms, you want daily “social outreach,” where an account manager is proactively engaging with followers and your target audience. Consistent, relevant posts will keep your name in front of your current followers, but to reach new prospects and increase brand awareness, make sure your social media package includes a strong engagement component.
- Stronger Relationships with Your Current Community
Your relationship with your network means the world to you, and you want to keep those connections strong.
Cultivating meaningful relationships requires regular and proactive communication. To achieve these outcomes, your social media package should include outreach, engagement, and rapport-building.
- Community Growth
Your current followers are not enough. You want a larger audience to connect with, but they need to be the right people.
To grow your followers, fans, and connections, you must perform persistent attention-getting tasks. Opt for a social media program that features intelligent community-building activities.
- Website Traffic
A thriving social media presence is great, but you have much more control over content and sales on you website. You want to drive traffic from your social platforms to your website.
Make sure the posts being published on your social media pages are strategic. Driving traffic to your website requires a deliberate approach, including useful, relevant, compelling content and thoughtful timing. If you aren’t posting regular blog articles to your site, you may want to consider including the outsourcing of this component in your social media package, as well.
Nothing matters to you except turning followers into leads or sales. (If this is your only objective, you’ll need more than just social media to fill out your marketing pie.)
Talk to potential social media agencies about your conversion objectives. They will help you decide what is realistic, and what is needed to reach your goals. For conversions, consider injecting social media ads to complement your organic campaigns.
Most social media management agencies offer several package levels, ranging from posting content on a single platform to a comprehensive, social management program that spans multiple networks. Defining your brand’s needs (see above) will determine how much you’ll need to spend. For most small businesses, a package containing one post a day of relevant content is the minimum needed to keep your brand fresh and updated.
You will often see package levels that include the following (in increasing price order):
Content only – posted X times / month, week, day
Direct interaction with your followers – X times / month, week, day
Outreach to attract new followers, media attention, potential partners – X times / month, week, day
Strategy – with monthly / weekly reports, research on analytics, tweaking and adjusting to constantly improve results
Why do some agency packages cost $100 / month (or less), and some cost upwards of multiple thousands / month?
Well, the pricing has to do with several factors:
- How much work are you asking the agency to do for you?
- Can any of the work be automated (vs. needing a human being to personally do the work)?
- How much of the work requires real-time activity vs. pre-scheduling the work for the week or month?
- Are you happy with general posts, or do you want custom-branded posts written in your voice?
- How much strategy and research is involved on a monthly basis?
- How often are strategic adjustments made on your campaigns?
We’ve seen prices as low as $50 / month or lower for generic posts. These are automated programs that spit out posts according to topics you choose. The posts are not specific to your company or brand and are not written in your voice, but they may give some value to your audience. Don’t expect any relationship building or increased engagement with these posts, and since the links don’t go to your website, you won’t see any web traffic.
For about $200 a month, you can have custom-branded posts written in your voice and posted once a day to one social network. These posts are terrific for keeping your pages fresh and current. If you add your own engagement, you can keep your brand top-of-mind with your community.
$400 / month will get you upgraded posting (more research, added visuals, strategic links), posting more often, or posting on more than one network.
Engagement and outreach to increase your network, build relationships, attract attention, and drive website traffic will usually cost you $600 and up / per social media platform. The investment depends upon the number of social platforms you want to be on, how quickly you want to increase your visibility, how much direct outreach is involved, and how often your campaigns are analyzed and tweaked.
Full-service social media campaigns will often come with an investment of several thousand dollars / month. A comprehensive, multi-platform social media program might include creation, implementation, and management of an integrated content marketing and social media marketing campaign, with the goals of expanding brand recognition and visibility on multiple social networks, attracting targeted prospects to value-rich blog content, and using Social Media to help build a growing pipeline of prospects and customers.
The bottom line
An experienced social media management agency has the time, tools, resources, and expertise to handle your social media accounts. When making your selection, it’s imperative to not only ask about pricing, but check out the company’s previous work and satisfied customers. No matter what you are paying, you must trust the agency with whom you are working.
Do you have any other questions about hiring a social media agency? Feel free to post below,
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 services?
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 management 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 280 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.
How Much Does Marketing With Facebook Cost?
Facebook management pricing 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 $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 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 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 marketing a look.
Snapchat is the cool kid on campus, 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.
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.
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.
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 it Cost So Much to Hire a Social Media Management Agency?
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:
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 all the time. Just check out what happened when actor and former NBA star Rick Fox mentioned our personal product client on a recent episode of Celebrity Name Game:
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 our personal product client’s account with a mention directed at Rick Fox’s account. Then the magic happened:
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.
Are Freelancer Rates More or Less Expensive for Social Media Management?
Hiring an agency is expensive — but is it any cheaper to hire a freelancer?
The reality is that social media freelance rates are just as variable as rates are anywhere ese. While you’d think a freelancer would naturally be cheaper than a traditional social media management agency, we simply couldn’t find much of a difference in the data.
But wait, how could that be? How is one person the same price as an entire agency of marketers?
It’s easy: for one, freelancers don’t always work alone. While one person might sign the contract, that same freelancer might farm the work out to their local network. After all, most social media marketers tend to specialize in one or two areas. Without a team behind them, they’ll usually choose to focus on the channel they feel the most comfortable with while passing off the work that’s out of their skillset.
Likewise, all marketing — digital or otherwise — is about reputation. It doesn’t matter if that reputation is held by one person or an entire agency — businesses are going to back the horse that has a pedigree.
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)
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.
If you want more information on whether a particular social media agency will deliver the value you need, check out our post on the questions to ask about social media management pricing.
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):
- Web content writing and content marketing
- 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.