When it comes to new services like SEO and social media marketing, there seems to be a constant debate among business owners about how much is too much to pay. Social media is especially questionable since many (who aren’t fully aware of what it entails) feel as if it is something any Facebook-junkie can handle. In reality, it involves not only knowing how to use the platforms, but also having a deep understanding of marketing and how to connect with a target audience.
So, with that in mind, how much should you pay an experienced social media marketer? As you might have guessed, there’s not a conclusive answer. Like anything else, you’ll find people offering their services for an assortment of prices, and it is up to you to judge their track-records and decide if they are really worth the amount of money they are asking.
Still, there are some things you can do to ensure you get the best price possible for what your specific business needs. But, to make this happen, you should first thoroughly evaluate your entire approach to social media by asking yourself these questions:
Why am I using social media?
Are you using social media because it seems like the “thing to do” or do you genuinely think it can help your business reach its goals? It’s doubtful there’s a business social media can’t help, but for it to work, you have to understand why you’re using it. Are you using it build brand awareness, to strengthen relationships with customers, or to provide product information (or all of the above)? Once you know your reasons, you can more effectively design a plan of action.
How much can I handle?
If you’re new to social media or just launching a business, maintaining one (much less multiple) social accounts can be overwhelming and keep you running in circles. Even if you outsource or delegate a portion of the work, it is going to require at least some input from you, and social media requires a significant time commitment.
Thus, when you’re beginning, it’s a good idea to start with one outlet at a time. For instance, you might want to start by focusing on your blog. Then, once you get a rhythm and a decent following, you can start connecting with your audience through Facebook as well. Eventually, your fan base may grow to an extent that you realize they may enjoy more frequent updates from you, and your business could benefit from a Twitter account.
The point is to take things one step at a time and gradually increase your interactions. Not only will it be easier for you to handle incremental changes, but as time passes you’ll naturally have a better understanding of your audience and will be able to use future social sites more effectively.
Does this site have long-term value, or is it just trendy?
Every couple of months or so, it seems like the next big social networking site is making its debut. Undoubtedly, you feel pressure to join “now” to avoid being out of touch, but make sure a social site legitimately has something to offer your business before you simply follow the crowd — a crowd that doesn’t always execute social networking effectively.
Usually the biggest investment you put into social marketing is time, so don’t commit to another site unless you think it is really worth your while. There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back, keeping your eye on the new network (don’t ignore it), and making a decision after some of the initial hype has had time to die down.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you should have a better frame of mind for deciding what social media is worth to you. Then, you have three ways of handling this task:
1. Do it yourself
Social networks and blogging platforms are basically free. Again, the only thing you have to devote is time. If you have a small business and are still handling most things on your own, the DIY approach may be your best bet. Also, it will give you a better appreciation and understanding of what social media requires, so you can make a more informed decision if you decide to hire the work out in the future.
Just be careful not to let social networking monopolize your time and detract from your other business endeavors.
2. Hire a ghost-writer and/or social media manager
This is where things can get expensive and where prices become very hard to predict. A social media manager may expect full-time wages, and prices for writers are as hard to nail down as they are for social marketers. You may have to experiment with a few social media managers and writers before you find some that are worth the money. But, once you do, hang on to them as they can save you a ton of time, which you can devote to other lucrative aspects of your business.
3. Hire a consultant
If you like the DIY approach, but don’t feel you are ready to handle things on your own, you may want to consider hiring an agency or consultant to assist you in getting started. Those with experience can make it easier for you to streamline your efforts and can save you from plenty of wasted effort by helping you zone in on your best strategies. Eventually, you can wean yourself away from the service and save money by maintaining your social sites on your own.
Once you begin looking for social media services, don’t let the number of choices and price ranges overwhelm you. Just remember to stick to your plan (why you’re using social media), start small and grow gradually, and do a lot of comparison shopping. If you follow this tactic you are bound to get the best price for the services you need.