8 Things to Keep In Mind While Budgeting for Social Media 

Updated: Sep 21


Even in 2020, many companies still struggle with projecting the right social media budgets. As a small business owner and a consultant to many midsize businesses, I’m here to help. Here are eight things to keep in mind when budgeting for social media. 



1. Cost of Management: Starting with the largest and most obvious cost, you’ll need to budget for a social media manager. This role is NOT EASY, friends. A good social media manager wears many hats. This person is a strategist, a copywriter, a creative thinker, and a planner all in one. He or she is an early adopter, a tinkerer, one who is tech savvy and who can learn new tools quickly. A social media manager must also be cool-headed under pressure, resilient if asked to work days on end and incredibly detail-oriented. Mistakes will happen, my friends, and most of the time it’s not a huge deal, but every so often they can blow up into a PR nightmare for your business. Sounds like a lot of responsibility, doesn’t it?? It is! So, if you only have room for one social media person in your marketing department, spend time looking for the right jack of all trades and invest in the best. (Est: $50K - $80K per year) 



2. Social Media Publishing Tool: Social media never sleeps. And your community and your platforms are expected to be active 24/7. One way to increase efficiency and create the appearance of being active 7 days a week is to leverage a social media planning and publishing tool. We absolutely love Sprout Social over here at GSS. Sprout allows you to schedule images, videos, multi-photo posts, Instagram Stories and more. They also have fantastic customer service which is critically important when working with any social media vendor. Sprout also features a “smart inbox” which pulls all platform messages and comments into one place for easy scanning and community engagement. There are tons of other tools out there like Hootsuite, Buffer, Later, the list goes on…. So peek around and find the best fit for your size and program. (Est: $100 - $500 per month) 


3. Creative and Streaming Tools: There are literally hundreds of creative tools out there that can enable your small social team (or person) to create professional-looking images, templates and videos. Canva Pro ($9.95/mo) is great for quote graphics, flyers and premade graphics that you can plug and play with your brand imagery and colors. Wave.video (Creator: $39/mo, Business $79/mo) is great for simple video projects and has a ton of options to customize creative to fit your brand. Streamyard ($49/month) is a game changer when it comes to live-streaming video to multiple social platforms. These are just a few of the hundreds of programs out there that help create efficiencies in the creative department. 


4. Licensed Imagery and Video: Social media is an extremely visual place. If your business doesn’t naturally have a large archive of imagery and video, you’ll want to build in a budget for licensing these assets. (Note: There are free stock imagery sites to exhaust before paying for imagery such as: Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, etc.) You can also subscribe to paid platforms at various prices. For example, Shutterstock offers 50 images a month for $125 / or $99 with an annual plan. They also offer stock video (5 clips / month billed annually at $949). 


5. Social Media Analytics and Listening Tools: This one can escalate quickly! Social Listening requires major data firehoses and API access to the main platforms which can be very expensive and that’s reflected in their pricing. These tools can often run between $30K - $50K per year depending on the level of customization and sophistication. While social listening is the most expensive, you can certainly access social media reporting tools for less. We like Sprout Social for reporting as well. Sprout tracks Impressions, Engagements, Engagement Rate, Organic and Paid Video Views, Link Clicks, Net Audience Growth and much more! You can compare multiple time periods and customize your year-over-year look. You can also customize your reports to include only the information that is relevant to your brand. The Pro version of Sprout starts at $149/user per month with the Advanced version starting at $249/user per month. See more: https://sproutsocial.com/pricing/



6. Paid Social Media Spend: In 2020, it is strongly recommended to have a paid social media budget. It’s just not realistic to expect results using organic tactics alone. Your paid social budget is likely tied closely to your business goals and ROI. If you run an e-commerce business, you’ll likely spend a significant amount on social media conversion advertising to drive traffic to your products which then turn directly into sales. If you are building a community, you’ll spend money on growth and engagement to drive conversations. First step is to set quantifiable goals (I.e. generate 25% more engagement, drive 40% more video views, drive 25% more website traffic). It’s tough to provide a recommendation in this department as it varies based on your business goals and overall marketing budget. The nice thing about social media advertising is that you can project results based on spend. Here are a few examples of how you can calculate your budget based on goals: 

  • Example: $0.25 Average Cost per Engagement x 1,000 (Target Engagements) $250 (Budget Needed)

  • Example: $100 (Budget) / 250 (Followers Gained) = $0.40 (Cost per Follower). 250 (Anticipated Budget) / $0.40 (Cost per Follower) = 625 Followers Gained

  • Example: $0.89 Average Cost per Click x 25,000 (Target Visits) = $22,250 (Budget Needed)


7. Ongoing Social Media Education, Courses, Conferences and Bootcamps: The social media landscape is constantly changing; at an incredibly rapid pace! To ensure your team is up to speed, it’s crucial to budget social media education into your annual plan. This could include certification courses, conferences or even bootcamps. GSS has a great social media bootcamp coming soon that covers how to build and execute a social media strategy like we do, along with all of the insights and platform best practices our team holds near and dear! Details coming soon on our courses section! 


8. Contractors: So what happens when your social media manager takes a (gasp) vacation!?!?! You might want to buffer in a small amount for a contractor or paid intern who can shadow your social media manager and jump in when this person is out sick or on vacation. A contractor budget is also great for bringing in additional boots on the ground around a particular event that is important to your brand. Your social media manager is limited by only having 2 hands and the ability to manage only 1-2 devices at a time. For many of the native apps, you’ll need another body to capture and manage live content. 

Whether you are an executive planning budgets for 2021 or a Social Media Manager fighting for more resources for yourself or your team, the above is a great guide for budgeting your Social Media Marketing! 



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