Social media may be 'free' but it sure costs a lot to manage

Social media may be 'free' but it sure costs a lot to manage

Summary: About one-third of SMBs are spending an average of $845 per month to manage their social media messages, according to new research from cloud marketing company Vocus.


Social media marketing is referenced often as an especially cost-effective tool for small businesses.

Even so, 36 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) spend an average of $845 per month on tools or cloud services for managing their social media accounts, according to a new survey sponsored by Vocus.

Another 32 percent of those surveyed on behalf of Vocus said they spend $1,000 or more on social media management, while 22 percent are outsourcing these functions to someone else (the amount of that investment wasn't given in the materials I reviewed for this post).

The average number of tools used by the SMBs to deal with social media accounts is three, while social media activities represent about 25 percent of the respondents' overall marketing mix, the data show.

The research conducted by Duct Tape Marketing has an error ratio of +/- 4.9 percent.

"What I've been noticing more and more is there's finally this acceptance that social media not only isn't going away, it's an essential element of the marketing mix and the real challenge now is to figure out how to integrate it into the total online and offline marketing presence," said John Jantsch, marketing consultant and creator of Duct Tape Marketing.

Here are some other findings of the research:

- 76 percent of the respondents use referral traffic to their Web site or e-commerce platform as the primary means of measuring social media's effectiveness

- 87 percent believe social media has been "somewhat helpful" or "helped a great deal"

- 40 percent are focusing on a small but highly engaged audience

- For 91 percent of the respondents, the most common use of social media is information sharing

Personally, $845 per month seems like a lot to spend for an especially small business or sole proprietor. But if you consider where else that money might go -- newspaper advertisements, flyers and such -- as well as the high potential impact of social media engagement, the investment makes more sense.

Topic: SMBs

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  • Social Media Marketing

    Agree thoroughly with you, nice article. I would share my thoughts about SMM, It is a means and not an end. The ultimate goal remains the same that is spreading the word about your brand/ product and encourage customers to signup for your services. One needs to be clear of the goals that you’ve set for your business and how you plan to achieve them by engaging in a social media marketing campaign.
  • Lot of businesses don't do homework

    I think it would be reasonable to assume a lot of businesses try the Social network angle for the same reason many people get a Facebook page. Because everyone else is. Does not mean it makes good business sense. A lot of them will most likely find out like GM did when it pulled out of Facebook advertising that it may not pay off.
    • re: jscott418 comment

      So I heard that too about GM, however, didn't they actually go back to FB?