The average amount businesses allocate toward their social media budget varies tremendously. Depending on the size of your company, whether or not you’re running social media ads or the number of handles you manage–costs can reach a few hundred dollars a month or several thousands.
Despite the challenge some businesses faced trying to prove social media ROI, a survey from Duke University Fuqua School of Business suggests it’s not stopping brands from expanding their budgets. According to the survey, businesses are spending 9.4% of their marketing budgets on social media. That number is expected to grow to more than 21% over the next five years.
No matter the size of your social media budget, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Spending $10,000 per month on social media doesn’t mean much if you’re allocating it in the wrong places. You’ll quickly feel like you’re not not getting your money’s worth.
Whether you are a large corporation with a high marketing budget or a small business just getting started, you want to utilize every cent. Social media marketing presents a tremendous opportunity to connect with current clients, reach new customers and sell more products and services.
Content is fire, social media is gasoline.
Founder of The Hired Group
The ROI potential of social media is huge due to its wide reach and low setup costs. So no matter how small or large your social media budget goes, you have an opportunity before you. An opportunity to manage your team and expand your reach while making every social media effort count. Here’s how to make the most of your social media budget:
Time Is Money & Some
When it comes to saving money on your social media budget, you have to start finding ways to save time. Social media can be a huge time waster when not executed properly.
Think about it–when was the last time you were determined market your business on Facebook but go distracted along the way? Writing a flawless social media post with an even better call-to-action takes time.
To avoid pushing off content writing or getting stuck in the social media rabbit hole, you need tools. In fact, what you truly need is a management system. You need something that can help you keep a schedule and put your social media work in order for you.
Since time equals money, it’s essential to have a plan to make your team and content as valuable and efficient as possible. How do you do it?
Once you know your “why,” it starts with your team.
Team Management & Flow
A team can work together in a beautifully harmonic orchestration. However, it can also sound like someone practicing the violin for the first time. Trying to manage a team through email can get clumsy and even cause havoc when important messages are missed.
That is why Sprout Social has worked hard to create social collaboration tools specifically for teams. Your whole team can collaborate right in the Sprout dashboard. This means everyone is on board and can communicate in real time for greater success.
You can even turn conversations from your social media audience into tasks for any of your team members to complete. This keeps your fans engaged and turns lurkers into advocates for your brand.
Invest in your audience and your team. Every social media budget has to get a little flexible when you look at real-time team collaboration. The payoffs for implementing these collaboration tools can help you:
- Manage your inbox: Creating custom tags and filters helps you divvy up the workload between team members.
- Live activity updates: See who is reviewing, responding or editing content in your inbox messages to avoid duplicate work.
- Regain Order: Whether you have two or 20 profiles, being organized is key. Get your social messages organized through a single-streamed inbox.
- Analyze task times: View and analyze your team’s task and completion time ratios so you know you’re quickly responding and working in an orderly fashion.
Efficient Content Planning
Once your team is optimized and prepped, it’s time to focus on content. If you spend part of your social media budget on copywriters for your articles or blog posts, maximize that investment by ensuring content is:
- Search engine optimized
- Reader friendly and clear
- Valuable and helpful to the reader
- True to your brand
- Visually appealing
Once your content meets the criteria, you can take it a step further by creating a social media editorial calendar. This will ensure that your content does not just sit idle, but actually reaches your audience.
Sprout allows you to schedule all of that content across different social media profiles. Your whole team can see when posts will go out so they’re prepared to interact with the content and readers. Sharing content at regular intervals and at optimal times is important.
What is the optimal time to share with your specific audience? You can figure this out by pouring over your analytics dashboards or make it easier on yourself with Viral Post.
Viral Post lets you relax about finding the best times to post, while Sprout analyzes your audience to determine the best time to post. This feature looks at engagement patterns and content velocity to automatically deliver content at the most optimal time for the biggest impact.
Set Measurable Goals & Analyze
To get the most out of your social media budget you will want to track your results at regular intervals. This will allow you to stop wasting money on what is not working and put funds toward what’s gaining traction.
Check in with your team to see if your original goals are being met. If not you need to reassess what went wrong. Do your goals need to be adjusted? Have they changed? If your goals are being met, look for ways to double down and increase the results even more.
Whether you use the Sprout’s social media analytics tools or dive into the data available on each separate platform, look for engagement.
Your engagement metrics are more important than your follower count. Remember that social media is about people and connections, not just numbers.
Most of your team’s time should be spent on engaging with your followers, rather than broadcasting promotional messages.
Review Your Audience
Do you have more male or female followers? Where are they located? Knowing this is important because it allows you to adjust your content accordingly and make your budget stretch further by reaching your actual target audience.
If you choose to use Sprout’s analytics, you can tailor your reports to get a better overview of your business and communicate the findings to your team.
Bonus: Free Is Good
There are many free ways to market your business on social media, which cuts down on your budget. You can use resources like Canva or BeFunky to create your own graphics. Record videos with your computer’s webcam or phone and upload to YouTube or Vimeo. Try to build relationships by commenting and chatting with your followers as well.
Here are some more free social media promotion ideas that only require time and creativity:
- Participate in Twitter chats
- Stream with Facebook Live
- Email newsletters
- Join relevant Facebook Groups
- Run a webinar or Google Hangout
- Host an Instagram contest
- Use hashtags strategically
- Turn your posts into a SlideShare
- Host a social media event
- Utilize user-generated content
There are so many free marketing opportunities on social media. Once you have organized your team, planned your content and analyzed your data, you will have the feedback you need to brainstorm new ideas.
As your business grows, you will have more funds to work with. But do not let the creativity stop. See how clever you can be to stretch your results and your social media budget to its max. Social media is a way to boost your other marketing efforts. When done correctly, it may become your top performing resource.
Grow Your Social Media Budget With Your Business
As your business grows, so does the need for an effective social media strategy. That’s why you must grow your social media budget with your business to maintain new activity, manage larger audiences or to respond to more comments.
If you have a limited daily or monthly budget to spend on your social media, prioritize systems and processes over paid advertising. If you support your team and build up an engaged following first—with organization and consistency—you will reach the right people and make the most of the budget you have. Put great tools to work for you and put your systems in place.
Follow these steps and when you are ready to expand your budget and start paying for advertising, you will have a much better chance of seeing the results you want. It may seem like a lot but take it step by step.
What is your greatest desire for your social media budget? Let us know in the comments.
Lori Hil: Lori Hil is a North Carolina native living abroad, capturing content, and sharing brand love. She mostly writes with a chihuahua on her lap and coffee close at hand from her base station in the Andes. She spends more time on Pinterest than anyone would care to admit and believes in the power of social media to change the world.