Russell Working with Ragan.com told us in January that social media budgets won’t increase in 2013. According to a Ragan/NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions survey, “only 28 percent saw their budgets—excluding salaries and benefits—increase in 2012, while 69 percent stayed the same. Prospects were only slightly better in 2013, with 62 percent of budgets projected to remain static.”
Although this may sound like unfortunate news, this budget plateau tells us two things. One, companies must either be happy with the results they’re currently getting from their social media efforts or they just don’t have an understanding of how an increased spend could improve these results.
Two, it tells us that the days of easy social media money—making a living from providing strategy sans execution, evaluation and results—are gone. As social media has matured, companies have moved through three stages:
- What is social media?
- Social media could probably help our business. Let’s give it a try.
- We’ve been using social media for a while, but what’s it really getting us? How’s it affecting our bottom line? What kinds of things can we do to maximize our results? What kinds of data and analytics can we use to verify our successes?
Patrick Coffee with PRNewser told us that big brands are starting to bring social media efforts in-house. This move is possibly prompted by a desire to monitor these efforts closely and charge people with social media who have a closer connection to the company and brand.
Working’s article also shows us that though social media budgets are leveling off, the size of these budgets lie on opposite ends of the spectrum. “Twenty-three percent of budgets are below $1,000, while 14 percent top $100,000.”
“Social media manager” salaries run as low as $25,000 and as high as $125,000. (“Survey respondents ranged from “nonprofits to multinational social media sophisticates.”) This tells us that expected outcomes of social media strategy/tactics range as widely as budgets and salaries. For example, a social media budget of $1,000 says that an employee has been assigned the responsibility of handling social media — in addition to her normal duties —and “brand awareness” is probably the primary (or sole) goal of these efforts. On the other hand, budgets of $100,000 and above probably account for salaries and paid social media tactics. The primary goals of these efforts are directly tied to the company’s bottom line.
So what can communications professionals and digital strategists do to work within these fixed budgets, especially when they’re closer to $1,000 than $100,000?
- Set goals and expectations from the beginning. Be clear about what the client wants to achieve and what’s realistic for the money they have to spend.
- Don’t overpromise. If anything, under-promise and over-deliver.
- Work from where the client is right now. Clients’ understanding of social media and what’s possible may vary. Work with their current aptitude levels and slowly educate them on the tools and tactics that can maximize their results.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no” or to scrap client ideas from the budget if funds are limited. Don’t tell a client that their idea is possible when their budget says otherwise.
Share with us: Have you seen an increase, decrease or plateau in your clients’ or employer’s social media budgets? How do you deal with decreased budgets and increased expectations?
Monarch is our content marketing and community engagement support product—a resource that backs you up and leaves you to free to do the job you’ve always done successfully. Monarch breaks engagement efforts into four packages that allocate set hours per month for content creation, community building and engagement. When you choose the package that works best for you, you know exactly what you’re getting per month and how much you’re paying for it.