Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Calculating the Cost of Social Media

Calculating the Cost of Social Media by Matt Owen for eConsultantcy:  Digital Marketers United.  For the full article, please click here.

Here's the gist:

Here are four main areas you’ll need to consider:
  • Staff costs

Your costs need to include your marketer’s salaries. If you don’t have a dedicated social media campaign manager then you also need to work out the amount of time they are spending on that campaign.
How many man-hours a day does it actually take to manage, maintain and report your social media presence?
  • External fees

Do you outsource all or part of your social media campaign? You’ll need a detailed breakdown of billing. How much were you charged, and how was it calculated?
Agencies will have different rates for strategy, maintenance and time expended on execution. You’ll also need to work out if this is an ongoing cost and how that affects the value you’re receiving.
  • Advertising

There’s more to running successful campaigns than simply setting up and maintaining a presence on a social network.
You’ll also need to advertise that presence through both in-network and external ads (Certainly you can trim costs here by adding follow buttons to your email signatures, but remember to factor in the time your coders spend on small tasks like that).
This is the most obvious spend so hopefully you’ll already be tracking it closely, but there’s a need to recognize exactly how it factors into wider costs.
How much time is your web manager spending setting up targeted Facebook ads for example?
  • Other

There’s also a wealth of other social media specific software and equipment available. Many basic tools are available free, but if you need more in-depth tracking (and you do) then costs can quickly escalate.
You’ll be facing technical and creative costs and unlike many offline campaigns, these can run continuously.
These points should cover the basics, but it’s also worth considering the unique variables generated by your business and organizational structure. Some businesses will be able to benefit from sunk costs.
It’s certainly possible that you may have extra staff on hand and want to increase efficiency there by having them manage your social media day-o-day.
For larger groups there’s also the question of underspend. Does your budget have enough flexibility at the end of the year to facilitate extra social involvement?
These factors will vary from business to business, but before you begin hurling cash at social media its worth trimming costs by considering if you have content that can be repurposed, existing online brand assets or campaigns in other channels that would benefit from a social media boost.

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