How Much Does Social Media Management Cost?

Almost weekly here at Red Truck Labs we receive emails about the cost of our social media services.

About two weeks ago, I received this email from Tom…

The email said:

“I want to know what packages you have for social media management and what services they include”

As always we set up a call, as it is simply impossible to quote a price without background, understanding the needs, challenges and expectations of the potential client. 

Turns out Tom (like many) had no idea what the average cost for social media marketing was…

He wanted to truly understand why the cost for our services ranged anywhere from $299 – $15,000 per month. That’s a HUGE spectrum.

For the many others like Tom out there, I decided to write this blog for you.

So, here’s the deal:

If you’re serious about hiring the right company for your business, there are four (4) general services you need to know.

1 Content Creation: The first step for any brand is to post and be active on social media. This is a service every social media company will provide.

2 Follower Growth: In order to get your post seen, you must have fans/followers on social media. It is important to check if this is included your package.

3 Social Advertising: To truly tap into the power of social media you must advertise. This allows you to pay to reach millions of people who use social media every day. This is where you will find the discrepancy in the cost for services in most cases.

4 Strategy & Employees: The sheer number of employees that a social media company has working on your business can highly affect the price. It can be the difference in paying $1,500/mo and paying $15,000/mo for social media management. Corporate agencies often have strategist, graphic designers, content writers, website developers, search specialist, account managers and more all work together to serve client needs.

That’s it.

As many of you know, these make up social media marketing services for most SMBs (small businesses).

If you’d like a more in depth understanding of these services…

In addition, if you would like to know how much does social media marketing cost with Red Truck Labs.

Then visit our social media management pricing page.

Okay.. Moving on.

Now that you understand how social media marketing services works, let’s dive into the meat of this blog.

How much does social media marketing cost?

When deciding to outsource your social media needs there are several options available to you.

You can hire an intern, freelancers, employee, small marketing company or corporate marketing agency. Each partner has its own average price and set of pros/cons. It is important to note that no company is exactly alike and will have minor differences.

We will take a look at each partner individually.

Let’s start with the classic..

“Let’s just hire an Intern from College” group.

The problem with hiring a social media intern is they have no business experience.

Yes it’s true. Interns do know how to post tweets and update Facebook. However, most interns do not have the knowledge to organize marketing and generate results for business.

Keep in mind that people who take social media intern positions are people who are trying to learn. So instead of you maximizing your time on other important business operations, you’ll most likely be answering intern questions and constantly correcting or reviewing your work.

Interns cost you a lot of time and time is money.

Pros of hiring an intern

• Free or very low cost

Cons of hiring an intern

• No experience. No true practicality to use social media to grow your business.

• Constant oversight. Spending a lot of necessary time to review work and answer basic questions.

• Temporary position. Once they gain the desired experience they leave and seek good paying positions.

So, Should You Hire The Social Media Freelancer?

A Freelancer is often referred to as a consultant..

Typically freelancers charge an hourly wage to render services on a project basis. Social media freelancers with 3+ years of experiences on average will cost $45/hr.

Now let’s do the math.

If you want real results to come from social media you will need to be active and post daily.

Assuming it takes your freelancer one hour per day, your cost could be $

$45/hr per day x 5 days a week x 4 weeks a month = $900/mo x 12/mo = $10,800 per year for a freelancer.

Pros of working with a freelancer are

• More flexibility. Freelancers typically can move from project to project with ease.

• Lower cost. Employer does not have to pay employment taxes or include benefits.

Cons of working with a freelancer are

• No Loyalty, freelancers sell their services to the highest bidder

• Reliant on One Person. If he/she is sick or extremely busy your social media is on hold

• No Oversight. There is little to no transparency on how the work is actually being performed.

One last thing to note about freelancers is experience matters. Hiring an inexperience social media manager can be like hiring an intern.

Full Time Employee (In-house)

The great benefit of hiring an employee is that you control employee’s quality, time and activity. You are able to build in a position or team for your social media marketing department.

However, adding a new position is not always an easy task.

You have to develop training, day-to-day process and oversight for the employee. Which means it could take months before you are ready to play on social media. In addition, you will have a long term commitment with your new employee so be mindful of the possibility of failure.

Now let’s do the math.

On the low end you can expect to pay $35k per year in salary. This is about $3,500 per month when you include taxes and benefits.

$3,500 per month x 12 months = $42,000 per year for a FT employee.

Pros of hiring an in-house employee

• Committed to working for your organization

• 100% oversight to see what is happening on a day to day basis

• Experience is hired, built and retained.

• Flexibility to change work focus.

Cons of hiring an in-house employee

• High cost. The average salary for a social media manager is $35k – 50k per year.

• Employer usually will pay employment taxes and benefits (health insurance and 401k plan)

• Reliant on one person. If he/she is sick or leaves the company your social media is on hold.

• Long term commitment. You must establish training, process and reporting for position.

Next you have the small marketing company

A small marketing company is one who typically caters to small business owners. Most of these companies try to provide as much value to the client at the best cost possible.

This gives you a hybrid of hiring a freelancer and a full-time employee.

So, Freelancer + Full-Time Employee = Small Marketing Company.

You get the best of both worlds.

Since most small marketing companies want to grow clientele, you will find they will be committed to helping your company grow as well.

And perhaps that greatest benefit is..

It’s NOT reliant on one person where freelancers and a full-time employee are.

In addition, they have several packages to fit your budget and needs.

Now let’s do the math.

The cost for a GOOD small marketing company will range anywhere from $400 – $1500 per month.

At the lowest package you will spend $4,800 per year.

$400/mo x 12 months = $4,800 per year

At the best package you will spend $18,000 per year.

$1500/mo x 12 months = $18,000 per year

Pros of hiring a small marketing company

• Several pricing options. You can choose packages that fit your needs.

• Low-mid cost. Very cost effective. Packages can be less cost than hiring a freelancer.

• Can move from package to package with ease.

• Not Reliant on one person. Several social media managers on staff.

• Committed to your organization. Good companies are results focused.

• Some oversight. You will be able to call and have access to a social media manager.

• Company usually has worked with a number of other SMBs.

• No employment taxes or benefits. In fact, you can write it off for tax purposes.

Cons of hiring a small marketing company

• Not 100% oversight. You still won’t be able to know what happens on a day-to-day basis.

• Most companies will require a 6-12 month contract.

Now beware.

There are plenty of unreliable and inexperience small marketing companies on the web.

For example..

It’s important to ask if the company has in-house social media managers.

You do not want to work with a company who is simply outsourcing their work to freelancers.

This way you will know exactly what to expect from your provider.

Lastly, you have the Corporate Marketing Agency

These agencies typically work with other corporate companies like fortune 1,000 or Inc 5,000 entities.

They are known for being full-service and providing a large range of marketing services for their clients.

So naturally, they have a lot of employees work together on client campaigns.

Which is GREAT!

Especially, if you have a big complex business.

Because every employee is able to thoroughly strategize and execute their portion of the client’s campaign.

However, most corporate marketing agencies are known for being slow and unresponsive.

Now let’s do the math.

For a good corporate marketing company you will pay $15,000/mo.

$15,000/mo x 12 months = $180,000 per year for a corporate marketing company.

For most SMBs, you will not see a positive return on this type of investment social media investment.

Unless of course, your social media content goes viral.

Pros of hiring a corporate marketing agency

• Several employees. More than one person handling your social media presence.

• Again, you are not reliant on one person. Several social media managers on staff.

• Long term commitment to your business. Most agencies take the LT approach.

• Full service marketing. All your marketing needs are taken care of with one company.

• Company usually has worked with a number of other businesses.

• No employment taxes or benefits. In fact, you can write it off for tax purposes.

Cons of hiring a corporate marketing agency

• Not very flexible. Because there are several people working on a team it takes time to make changes to campaigns.

• Not 100% oversight. You still won’t be able to know what happens on a day-to-day basis.

• Most companies will require 1-2 year contract.

BAM, that’s it.

We’ve covered every group.

Now let’s do a side by side comparison and breakdown of key pros/cons.

How much does social media marketing cost? Intern Freelancer Full-Time Employee Small Marketing Company Corporate Marketing Company $$ FREE $900/mo $3,500/mo $400 – 1,500/mo $15,000/mo Pro FREE Flexibility Quality Control Experience Employees Con No Experience One Person Cost No oversight Cost Use Anyone Anyone Based on experience Small Businesses Fortune 1000 & Inc 5000 Companies

In Summary,

Every partner is different and will yield different costs.

However, on average you can expect to pay the prices above depending on who you are talking to.

Here are some tweetable takeaways.

  • Be very wary of brands who are very cheap as they may not offer a particular service or provide the quality your business needs. 
  • Interns are free.. but can be suck up your time and time is money. 
  • Freelancers are a great option for outsourcing projects, but can disappear and never return. 
  • In-house employees can gives you quality control, but your business must be prepared to manage another position.
  • Small social media marketing companies are a great pricing option, but you have little to no oversight of work. 
  • Corporate marketing companies offer the most comprehensive services, but can be slow and cost a lot.

Hire Us

It’s only right that I end this blog with a pitch.

If you are looking for an agency to manage your campaign and get real results then please contact us today.

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