Investing in social media management increases your brand’s awareness, generates leads, drives traffic to your site and boosts community engagement. While that sounds great to executives and stakeholders, they may not understand how the costs associated with social media translate to business objectives.
If you need help getting buy-in for your social strategy and building your budget, this social media management costs guide will help you get started.
We’ll walk you through what is normally included in the cost of social media management, how the cost of agencies compares to freelancers and the average amount a business should spend. Let’s dive in.
Social media management costs overall
First, we need to be clear. There is no one-size-fits-all social media management cost. Brands will spend differently depending on their unique goals.
However, based on average costs, we determined a comprehensive social media management program is roughly $12,300 per month. That number includes all costs related to content creation, advertising campaigns and social media management software.
- Content creation: $5,250 per month
- Social advertising: $5,000 per month
- Platform management: $2,050 per month
- Total: $12,300 per month
Here’s a breakdown of how we calculated this figure.
Launching a social channel and creating content
Although the cost of launching a social channel is technically free, running the profile and creating a content calendar costs a brand anywhere from $500 to $10,000 per month.
The estimated cost depends on factors like talent sourcing. Do you use in-house talent or outsource content creation? For example, at Sprout, our content and social management is driven by our internal team members, but we contract content creation, too.
Here are average rates for both:
The cost is also influenced by which channels you use and how often you post each month. For example, you will invest more resources into video content for platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
To run a successful platform-specific advertising campaign, you should plan to invest at least $5,000 per month, according to Sprout’s Manager of Digital Marketing, Maggie Anderson. She points out that often the cost can be much higher, so you should consider this number a starting point.
Anderson explains, “Before finalizing your social ad campaign budget, pinpoint your goal, campaign duration and audience. These factors will help you choose targeting strategies and platforms that will work best for your campaign—which ultimately determines your budget.”
As you incorporate more platforms and run longer campaigns, expect the overall expense to increase.
Your campaign metrics will reveal ways you may need to optimize your strategy to reach your desired goals, so leave room in your ad budget for flexibility.
Whether you manage multiple platforms through a social media management tool, an agency partner or both, you will pay around $100-$4,000 per month.
The price is influenced by the number of profiles you manage, the volume of inbound messages and mentions you receive, the size of your community and the features you use.
Continue reading to learn more about the costs of working with a social media management agency and using a social media management tool.
Social media management agency costs
Some brands use agencies to complement their in-house social teams, while others use them to outsource all their social media management tactics. If you decide to work with an agency, here are the cost parameters you should plan for.
We asked 440 agencies how much they’re charging for their social media services. About 24% of the respondents said they charge an average of $500-$999 per month while 15% charge within the $1,000-$1,499 range.
Interestingly, 28% of agencies said they didn’t offer hourly rates, but of those that do, a quarter charge between $100-$149 per hour.
Sydney Nielsen, Sprout’s Manager of Customer Marketing, says, “Working with agencies is an investment that delivers high return. Agency partnerships allow you to tap into marketing professionals with extensive technical expertise who can deliver multiple creative and innovative campaigns at the same time. They give you insight into what’s working, what’s trending and where your brand should focus your efforts—without requiring trial and error.”
While the services offered depend on the agency type, they often entail:
- Platform management
- Social strategy
- Content development
- Social analytics
- Running paid social campaigns
- Engagement and community management
Keep in mind the scope of your social media management needs will impact cost. Prices vary depending on your goals, service term and the number of tasks the agency performs.
Social media management freelancer costs
Other brands opt to work with freelancers to fill their social media management gaps. Freelancer costs shift based on their experience level and the extent of your project. On average, freelancers charge a few hundred dollars to $10,000 per month. Many freelancers also offer hourly rates.
Once you determine your goals and budget, search for freelancers with the skills you need who fit your price range. Here’s a list of marketplaces you can use to kickstart your search:
- Upwork: a freelancing platform and independent talent workforce that helps you scale faster and transform your business. Upwork is a great option for larger projects that require subject matter expertise.
- Fiverr: a global online marketplace for freelancer services. Known as a cost-efficient choice, Fiverr helps brands bridge gaps in their overall social media management and achieve platform-specific goals.
- The Mom Project: a freelancing platform specifically designed to employ mothers and help over 650,000 talented women stay engaged in the workforce. The Mom Project’s Maternityship® program provides companies with coverage for resource gaps created by parental leave.
If your team opts to work with freelancers, we recommend starting with smaller tasks. Make sure their work aligns with your goals and expectations before partnering on large-scale, critical projects.
Social media management software costs
Today’s social media managers know publishing, scheduling and reporting from the native platforms would be inefficient (and, in some cases, impossible). Social media management software simplifies the hard work of social media so you can focus on connecting with your audience and building insights-driven strategies that elevate your brand.
For a robust and cohesive social media management platform like Sprout Social, you can expect to pay about $89-$1,000+ per month depending on your plan, integration needs and the size of your social team.
Here’s an overview of our pricing models.
- $89 per user/month billed annually (or $99 month-to-month)
- Manage up to five social profiles
- Access to the all-in-one Smart Inbox
- Monitor profiles, keywords and location
- Scale engagement with tasking and social CRM tools
- $249 per user/month billed annually (or $279 month-to-month)
- All the benefits offered by the Professional Package
- Message spike alerts for increased activity
- Chatbots with automation tools
- Inbox rule builder for automated actions
- Automated Link Tracking
Customers can use bonus features like Listening, Premium Analytics and our employee advocacy tool for an additional cost.
By using a management platform like Sprout, your social and customer care teams can save time and increase productivity. Sprout’s integrations will make your team more informed and efficient, so you can spend most of your time growing and maintaining customer relationships and fine-tuning your strategy.
Cost of other software that can help with social media management
In addition to a social media management platform, you might need other tools that can supplement your social media strategy. Here are two examples of platforms that can help you track your customers’ journey and generate new content ideas.
HubSpot’s integrated CRM platform helps you monitor social engagement in the context of your customer relationships.
The platform gives you a detailed understanding of your customers’ social interactions and how many marketing qualified leads you’re generating from specific platforms—which makes it easy for you to prove the ROI of your social campaigns.
Cost: $800/month (Professional)
Post Planner curates articles, images and custom content feeds so you always have something fresh for your followers. The platform identifies your most popular posts, and has automated features to repurpose and recreate top-performing content.
Cost: $39/month (Business)
Invest in long-term social media success
Designing your social media management budget requires thinking critically about the resources you need to reach your goals. While the upfront costs of social media might seem expensive, finding the right mix of tools will set you up for future success.
After all, growing your social media presence is a marathon, not a sprint. The investments you make in your management strategy today will accrue and deliver long-term gains.
Tap into the robust power of social by starting your free 30-day Sprout Social trial today.