THE COST OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING SERVICES IS SKYROCKETING.
THE MYTH OF ‘FREE’ SOCIAL MEDIA
The Real Reason Why Social Media Marketing Will Cost More in 2024
If you are a small business owner contemplating your next move in the changing social media landscape, remember this: the illusion that social media marketing is “free” is just that…an illusion. Using social media platforms may be low or no cost, but what your company shares on them is as valuable as traditional advertising.
As a result, social media marketing takes time to produce content that can stand out in an already over-saturated market.
From the initial post idea to concept, execution, creative work, hashtag research, Story strategy, photo sourcing, and numerous rounds of edits, a social media post is never just a simple “post.”
A post with no meaning behind it is just a photo and nothing more. Your business deserves more.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A LARGER SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET IN 2024
How much should I invest in social media marketing services?
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. If you are paying more for better creative, you are buying a more polished final product that will spread further in the digital ecosystem.
Larger social media budgets help your social media marketing agency achieve the following outcomes:
1) Produce better creative.
2) Increase the visibility of the creative to a larger, targeted audience.
This is critical to fighting any new algorithm changes, such as the one that Facebook released in 2019.
You will be equipped with an arsenal of compelling content and an adequate media budget to boost the content further.
PRICING DIGITAL MARKETING SERVICES AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA ALGORITHM DEBATE
How much does social media cost?
Every time there is an algorithm change in the top social media networks, including Facebook or Instagram, debate ensues between digital marketing experts.
Some digital marketers believe that if agencies are creating great content all along, they will be immune to algorithm changes.
Other digital marketers believe that with algorithm changes comes increased budgetary requirements for ad spend to have more visibility of your content.
While creating great content will certainly help immunity to algorithmic changes that impact visibility, you will not be able to adequately fight an algorithm change if you have limited-to-no resource allocation on ad spend for these platforms.
So, is it really about who is right in this debate, or is the larger issue how to define what great content means in the evolution of social media marketing?
For example, a static photo post could have been considered great five years ago, whereas today, a video or GIF is much more compelling.
In 2024, you need discretionary dollars to create killer content as consumer consumption and media preferences change.
Additionally, inflation has hit the U.S., including the professional services industry.
The cost of SaaS tools and business resources has infinitely increased, in addition to the rising cost of labor in the U.S. market.
WHAT GREAT MARKETING CONTENT LOOKS LIKE TODAY VS. 5 YEARS AGO
In the old days of traditional advertising, companies spent weeks creating one piece of creative that went into a magazine, newspaper, or billboard.
But then social media became the new magazine or the new billboard.
However, with the advent of social media platforms, creative typically seen in print outlets is expected to be produced daily and tenfold.
In addition, videos were on the rise and social media platforms changed how viewers would see things and when.
Social media marketing experts tell people to create better content by posting more videos daily, paying for Facebook ads, and increasing exponential output.
This comes with an incremental price tag that continues to increase when many small business owners aren’t even sold on the ROI of social media to begin with.
It is important to understand the cost associated with all of these marketing recommendations for the labor involved to produce this level of content.
WHERE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AGENCY RETAINER DOLLARS GO
Producing this level of content requires more labor and a diverse skill set that includes graphic design, copywriting, photography, video production, branding and so much more.
However, not every social media marketer is going to be a specialist in each of these areas. Therefore, social media marketing agencies now have to bring on specialists to produce this type of content.
Rising labor costs from the agency side have to remain in line with the fees to produce the creative required for social media.
The disconnect is that many small business owners believe a social media marketing specialist should possess all of these skills if they are hiring them. They do not want to pay a separate fee for the other services or specialists. This does a great disservice to photographers, videographers, writers, and graphic designers.
All business owners need to understand that just because you or your social media marketing specialist own an iPhone, it does not mean you or they are a great photographer.
The unrealistic expectation that you should be able to replace an entire industry to keep up with content output demands is hurting everyone across the board.
Using the same tool does not mean you have the same craft. You hire a photographer for their vision, intricate knowledge of lighting, and ability to shoot something you may not see.
You hire a social media marketer to put all of this together and build a brand for your business.
When you believe that a social media professional should be able to be a photographer and a marketer, you are hurting your business.
A social media marketer is skilled at taking all of these assets and creating a beautiful Instagram grid. Not all, however, are skilled at taking photos or having the same artistic vision a photographer has.
Similarly, a great copywriter may produce excellent copy for Facebook posts but may struggle with producing a visually appealing Instagram theme.
But it’s all social media, right?
In addition to hiring marketing specialists to create social media content for each platform, there is also a great deal of manual labor that goes into the tactical side of social media.
You may be wondering where all of your social media dollars go on a monthly basis to produce this content.
Let’s break it down.
What does a social media agency do?
Ruby Media Group is an award-winning New York-based social media agency.
At Ruby Media Group, your social media manager does the following for you on a day-to-day- basis:
• Strategic Social Media Consulting
• Post Ideation/ Brainstorming
• Content Calendar Approval
• Content Edit Rounds
• Further Client Approval editing
• Hashtag Research
• Tagging of posts
• Photo/ Video shoots to produce assets
• Grid Layout of content
• Live Feed Story Creation (separate content from feed content)
• Boosting Posts
• Creation of Facebook Events
• Creation of branded cover photos/ events/ graphics
• Responding to DM’s/ Comments/ Inquiries on behalf of the brand
• Favoriting comments + Community Management
Professional Social Media Services Pricing
How much does social media marketing cost?
Pricing depends on a number of factors including:
- Number of posts per month
- Number of boosted posts per month
- Ad spend
- Custom image creation
- Comment monitoring and Online Reputation Management
SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGETS
How much should my business spend on social media marketing per year?
Every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is constantly looking to optimize their spend.
Social media can often be one small line item out of a larger marketing and PR budget.
Nonetheless, it is still important to get it right.
A social media budget should include:
- Community Management
- Cost for Creative
- Paid Advertising
- Content Optimization
- Cost of SaaS technology stack
The cost of a MarTech social media stack alone can be upwards of $50k.
Ruby Media Group clients gain exclusive and premium access to proprietary enterprise software as a perk of being an agency-client with us.
The cost of social media content production
Content creation in and of itself costs a significant amount of time and money.
The notion that a level playing field ever existed on social media is a fallacy when bootstrapped indie content creators are competing against content creators with full-fledged at-home studios and hundreds of thousands of dollars of video equipment.
When you think about the playing field, the cost to create content must be taken into consideration, not just the cost to post content or exist on a free social media platform.
What impacts the price of social media marketing services?
Many small business owners already think that paying for social media marketing is too expensive.
On the other hand, many agency owners think that their services are way underpriced for what they are delivering.
Essentially, two different ideas of what constitutes value for money in the social media landscape is the cause of the friction.
As a business owner, you want your budget to stay the same, but the truth is that to compete in a new social media ecosystem and stay ahead of algorithm changes, you need to increase your social media marketing budget.
If a social media agency owner is to deliver the type of content that is needed for a business to stay relevant, they will most likely need to request a larger monthly retainer due to rising inflation costs.
The cost for social media marketing will continue to increase as social media agencies are tasked with doing more for less.
The media covers inflation and the rising cost of labor – but they fail to mention the strain on social media agencies.
When big tech companies launch new features that were never accounted for in the initial contract – someone is left holding the bag.
The truth is – it’s usually the agency – not the brand.
The new features are alluring to the end user – but there is a dark side that no one ever talks about.
How can an agency remain competitive if they are not outsourcing the additional creative work overseas?
The message is clear. Do more for less and be happy doing it.
This week, Instagram launched Threads, a text based rival product to Twitter.
But what does this mean for agencies?
If an agency was retained to handle social media management for Instagram before Threads was launched – will the client expect Threads management to be included in the cost for Instagram marketing services?
In the eyes of the client – Threads falls under the umbrella of Instagram marketing services.
In the eyes of the agency – this is an entirely different product and requires a different skillset, strategy, and extra hours of work.
As big tech companies continue to expand product offerings and feature sets – agencies must adapt their contracts.
How much does a custom social media strategy cost?
The first step in social media consulting is discovery and strategy.
During the first month of a new engagement, we dive deep into an organization’s marketing strategy to determine who they want to target.
A social media strategy can range anywhere from a one-time fee of $10k to $150k.
The pricing depends on the number of consulting hours required from discovery to deliverable.
No two social media strategies are the same. Every strategy should be tailored to the client’s needs and overall business objectives.
In B2B Marketing, over 74% of consumers consult social media channels before making purchasing decisions.
Converting a lead can result in tangible business gain and you can instantly recoup the investment in social media if it is done right.
So, how do you do that?
- Say no to a spray and pray marketing approach.
- Understand what strategy costs.
- Pay for quality over quantity when it comes to social media output.
- Do not try to be everywhere online.
- Research what impacts the purchasing decision cycle of your target persona.
What social media impacts your target audience?
Simply put- what media does your audience consume?
- Do they read Reddit threads?
- LinkedIn recommendations and groups?
- Twitter community threads?
After you identify the platform, then identify what content has the highest conversion optimization chance.
Experiment with this until you get it right.
WHY THE TRADITIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA AGENCY MODEL IS BROKEN FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
The traditional social media agency model for small business owners is broken.
Expectations on content output continue to increase, while fees stay the same. But the changes were so gradual, it was hard to stop the slide.
This meant that costs for social media marketing subscriptions, software, and talent all continued to rise, while retainers did not.
What is needed to make an impact on social media and what people are generally prepared to pay for that, is incongruent with market rates for these services.
Social Media Marketing agencies that primarily work with small businesses will struggle to deliver tangible results without raising retainer costs to allocate for media buying and increased content production.
On the other hand, NYC Social Media Marketing agencies that are given budgets for the creative required to compete will rise to the top.
HOW TO FIGHT THE ALGORITHM CHANGES WITHOUT INCREASING SOCIAL MEDIA SPEND
So where does this leave small businesses and social media marketing companies for small businesses?
If you can’t pay increased fees to produce the creative necessary to compete on social media platforms, spend more time focused on long-form content or other outlets where you will see greater rewards on a limited budget.
Entrepreneurs who produce great content will win in this social media economy. However, it would be negligent to say that content alone is enough.
You need to allocate resources for digital advertising if you want the content to be seen by a larger audience.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE RENTED SPACE
At some point in the near future, social media platforms may charge companies to use their platforms.
Social media platforms are merely rented space. It is better to own than to rent a property.
The same is true for social media. Invest the time in creating content that you own and if you get kicked out as a tenant of a specific social media platform (Facebook starts charging users), you can take your content and move it to another platform (Twitter) without feeling like your investment went down the drain.
Diversify your social media assets so you are not putting all of your content into one network that may change at any moment due to algorithm changes.
Always save a copy of your content in case the platform decides to remove your account or block your account.
The best content investment is producing content on your own website and driving traffic back to a central hub and foundation that you control where you are less immune to algorithm changes or social media platform bans.
WHAT YOU WILL GET OUT OF INCREASING YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGET
It is critical that small business owners begin to understand why they have to pay more for a similar level of social engagement as they received before.
Similarly, it is also important to understand the bind that agencies are in when business owners decide not to increase budgets for social media marketing services.
If a social media agency continues to execute without an adequate budget for boosting posts and producing the required creative, a limited number of people will be viewing the content, and the ROI may also be limited.
When you invest in quality content marketing for social media, you are getting so much more than a good post.
You are getting content that can be reused, repurposed, and disseminated in so many different ways.
For example, let’s say that you are a New York City physician who is investing in a social media content strategy, the content could be repurposed for:
• Imagery in an upcoming PowerPoint presentation at a healthcare conference
• Patient Collateral
• Blog Post Imagery
• Social Media Posts distribution across several platforms
The trick is learning how to leverage one piece of content in different platforms beyond just using it as a simple post to get the most out of it.
There should be a plan for creating/producing the content and a secondary plan for the promotion and dissemination of the content so that it can reach your entire patient base in a way that builds your medical practice.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRICING FAQ
How much do social media marketing agencies make?
It depends on the size of the agency. Large social media agencies are more profitable than those that are servicing small business clients. Why? Because larger agencies are working with larger budgets from the start: media budgets and agency budgets for creative.
Agencies servicing smaller clients in this space are not operating at a high-profit margin, especially as the field becomes commoditized with cheaper options for $99 monthly social media specials.
How much should I pay for social media marketing services?
The answer to this question depends on the size of your business and your business goals. A reasonable range for social media marketing services to see a decent ROI starts at 10k-25k monthly. If you are paying anywhere below those numbers, you are most likely not going to see a massive ROI from social media. Why? Because you need to budget for the cost of media, the cost of creative and the agency’s time. How can you stretch 1k out for 30 days to achieve champagne-level ROI metrics? It’s just not possible. You can’t ask for Gary Vaynerchuk-level results on a McDonald’s budget.
How much does a social media manager cost?
How much does it really cost to have someone run your social media? If you are looking to retain a social media manager instead of going the agency route, the baseline salary for an entry-level position would be around $50,000.00 per year.
THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Kris Ruby: Social media advice for the future
Trends come and go, and what is trend-worthy today can be cringe-worthy tomorrow.
What social media platform should I invest in?
Ultimately, it comes down to where your audience is most active. If your audience is active on Instagram, and your brand is on Instagram, Instagram reels may be best for your business.
If you love doing video reels, then a writing platform like Twitter may not be a good creative fit for you.
Your level of creativity and content production must match the platform you build an audience on.
The investment of time and resources must also match your dedication, commitment and willingness to stick with *one platform* for an extended period of time for the highest ROI.
Invest in the social media platform you gravitate to.
Match your interests to the social media platform you can be most creative on.
- What social media platform are you naturally drawn to?
- Where do you genuinely enjoy creating content?
- When do you feel like you are most in your zone of genius?
- Do you prefer writing, producing videos, taking photos?
Unfortunately, many content creators make the mistake of being active on social media platforms that they don’t actually feel comfortable on. This comes through in the content they produce. It feels stiff. It is a chore.
SOCIAL MEDIA BUDGETING
How do you allocate a budget for social media marketing?
If you are planning on hiring a social media marketing agency in 2024, equip the agency with the proper resources to create the necessary content for your business to compete in a saturated digital ecosystem. This will benefit your business and you will see stronger results, better creative and a more substantial long-term ROI. If you want to allocate a budget for social media marketing, it must include resources for:
- Monthly agency retainer fees
- Paid media fees
- Cost to produce creative (this cost will vary depending on the type of creative). For exanple- video vs. photo
How much does outsourcing social media management cost?
To determine the price of outsourcing social media management, look at the current fees to hire someone in-house for the role then multiply that for additional factors to include taxes, software, number of years of industry experience, and data-driven outcome for others in your industry. Outsourcing social media can start at $10k and go up from there depending on hours built into the engagement.
Social media consutling pricing is largely determined by industry reputation, proven performance, and ROI. Additionally, the cost will vary depending on the platform experience. For example, someone who can post LinkedIn comments is not going to be in as high of a demand as a Discord Community Manager right now. The cost of a social media strategist is directly proportional to the platform demand that people have the least experience with.
OUTSOURCED SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING AGENCY | RUBY MEDIA GROUP
If you are looking to outsource social media and content marketing services, drop us a line! We offer social media services as an add-on to our baseline Public Relations services. We no longer offer social media as a standalone service. We believe PR and social media must work together for the greatest ROI for your campaign. We would love to help you with all of your public relations and social media needs. Contact us today to request agency pricing for social media consulting services and social media audits.
Top Westchester County Social Media Company | White Plains, NY
Ruby Media Group is an award-winning Digital Marketing Agency that offers a wide range of services, including content optimization, public relations, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and AI-Powered Marketing.
Ruby Media Groups Social Media Marketing Services include:
- Social Media Strategy
- Content Creation
- Community Management
- Social Media Consulting
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Date last updated: July 2023
KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 15 years of experience in the Media industry. She is a sought-after media relations strategist, content creator and public relations consultant. Kris Ruby is also a national television commentator and political pundit and she has appeared on national TV programs over 200 times covering big tech bias, politics and social media. She is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media, tech trends and crisis communications and frequently speaks on FOX News and other TV networks. She has been featured as a published author in OBSERVER, ADWEEK, and countless other industry publications. Her research on brand activism and cancel culture is widely distributed and referenced. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council. She is also the host of The Kris Ruby Podcast Show, a show focusing on the politics of big tech and the social media industry. Kris is focused on PR for SEO and leveraging content marketing strategies to help clients get the most out of their media coverage.