When you want to increase your business’ social media presence, or simple start out with social media marketing, you may wonder about how much effective social media management actually costs? Unsurprisingly, the answer is complex and depends on a number of factors unique to you. Does hiring an agency make sense? Or should you build out your in-house team while using an all-in-one social media tool?
These are some difficult questions that you will have to think deeply about. Not to worry, though, we are going to help you unpack the important issues you should consider and simplify the entire process of finding what is best for your business.
Even though social media management pricing is not always straightforward, by thinking carefully about the core issues involved in charting your social media future, you can effectively find the right choose for you. In this article, we will first go over social media management costs in general (i.e. the different between using an agency or doing everything in-house), followed by a look at how to find the best social media management tool pricing packages.
Choosing between In-House Social Media Management or an Agency
The first step in determining how much does social media management actually costs is to clearly identify what you need and who will do it. In other words, how extensive do you imagine your social media activities to be and how many employees do you have committed toward working on content and image creation?
Some small and/or new businesses may be looking to quickly build out their social media presence. In lieu of designated employees to work on this in-house, many may seek an agency that can help them with strategy, content creation, and posting.
The positive aspect of agencies is that they can provide instant help and a high-level of expertise to get a social media account off the ground. Or they can help find ways to make your content more engaging for your audience. The major question for our purposes in this article is how much it costs.
Agency pricing has to do with what in fact the tasks of the agency are and how much of it they have to do. Simply providing you with some analysis and strategy creation will be, most likely, a one-time payment or, if they continue with consulting, on a monthly retainer basis.
It is advisable not just to look at the social media management pricing that agencies give to you, but also the overall quality of work they do. Nowadays, reviews of agencies are easy to find online, and you can even consider asking other businesses what agency they use or could recommend.
Pricing can also depend on location. Agencies based in larger cities may generally be more expensive than those based in smaller cities. Moreover, agencies have different pricing depending on if they are doing analysis, content creation, or publishing. For this reason, and you should also ask for a clear price structure depending on what services you need.
The downside of hiring an agency is that they can expensive and, once you decide to stop paying them, then you have to create internal processes and strategies yourself. Moreover, if they are just giving you analytic data while you are responsible for content, there may be much cheaper alternatives available to you, such as a social media management tool.
Admittedly, businesses need to find out for themselves if it makes financial and strategic sense to hire an agency or run their social media activities in-house. However, it is important to point out that social media marketing is a long-term project that takes time, effort, and thought. Agencies can be a great way to get your business started down the right path, but may not be the right choice for companies that want a long-term social media presence for years to come.
Searching for the Right Tools: Tips on Finding the Best Deal
In many cases, a social media tool used by your own team is the more affordable social media management approach since you are not paying for others to create your strategy, curate your content, and reply to comments, all with a markup on top. Of course, you need to hire one or more social media managers to lead your efforts in this area, but if you want to extend your social media reach, this is generally a must.
Social media tools play a pivotal role in creating an effective strategy, discovering what content is working and what is not, as well as helping with managing your community of followers. The primary question is, how do you find the social media management tool pricing package that is right for you? This can sometimes be difficult since social media management packages pricing is not always straightforward.
We have your back, though. Below tips to consider for finding an affordable social media management tool that meets your needs.
1. Look Closely at the Core Functions that are Offered in the Plan
When looking at social media management pricing packages, you should look at the core functions that every plan offers. Many businesses need social media tools that give them wide-ranging functionality in terms of analysis and benchmarking, publishing from a single platform, community management features, as well as bing able to research and discover profiles and trends.
For this reason, it is usually advisable to look for an “all-in-one” tool so you don’t miss out on needed features. However, there may be numerous tools that claim to be “all-in-one” but are, in fact, not. So how do you know whether that is just an empty claim? The easy way to do this is to look at the four core functions of social media tools and ask yourself some simple questions to make sure you are getting what you need.
Analytical Insights and Benchmarking
- Does the tool offer a wide range of metric tracking for your own profiles as well as competitors? Are there limits placed on this analysis?
- Can you access historical data for your own profiles and that of your competitors for a timeframe before you started using the tool?
- Can I post across different social media channels? Moreover, can I schedule multiple posts to be published at a future time?
- Are there tools within the publishing function that help automate and streamline the process, such as an image library and the use AI technology to help in your post curation?
- Can multiple people manage and organize the various replies, messages, and comments you receive across all social media channels from a centralized place within the tool?
- Are there features, such as tagging and creating message templates that make the process more efficient for those using the social media tool?
Profile and Influencer Discovery
- Can you find other profiles you are interested in using for benchmarking or for analyzing new trends?
- Does the tool help you find possible influencers to work with and provide you with the needed data to see if the influencer will be effective for your campaign?
While not every business will ultimately use every one of these features extensively, the vast majority will need them to effectively carry out their social media activities. Going through this simple question and answer exercise will help ensure that the tool you are looking for is offering not just a good price, but the features that you need.
If the tools you are looking at are not offering these core features that most social media operations require, even a cheaper tool may end up costing you time, effort, and money.
2. Are there Paywalls for Features? If so, will it end up costing you more?
There are many social media management pricing packages out there, and there is always a risk that you initially find what seems to be a good deal that ultimately turns out to be far costlier. The cheapest social media management tool at first glance might not necessarily be the cheapest in the long-run. Why? Because of paywalls for features.
There can be good reasons for paywalls and costs for specific features. Not everyone wants every feature, and paywalls allow you to pay for things you want and not for things you don’t need. However, paywalls generally indicate that there is a vested interest in upselling you after you have begun using the tool which can be problematic no lest because you may have to pay additional monthly fees for important features.
If paywalls exist in the tool, it is helpful to map out exactly what you require for your social media activities based on the four core features mentioned in the section above. As a general rule, it is good to be wary of any social media tool that tries to obfuscate overall pricing and what you will be paying for particular features. So if you are constantly asking yourself if something is included or how much that features actually costs, you should think twice about using that specific tool and instead look for clear and straightforward pricing plans.
3. Beware of Limits on Profile Tracking and Analysis
Closely related to paywalls on features is limits on the tracking of competitor profiles or tracking their history. This is not a concern for everyone. Some businesses may be interested only in their own profiles and not so much in those of their competitors. However, for many businesses, the ability to track the profiles of their competitors or industry peers across social media platforms is essential in formulating an effective overall strategy.
One way that some social media tools can restrict your analysis, even if they are all-in-one tools with robust analytic features, is to limit the number of profiles you can track and analyze. This can restrict your industry benchmarking analysis and could need up costing you more if the tool necessitates that you pay extra to add more competitor profiles to your analysis. In reality, social media management package pricing may be dependent on the extent of analysis you need.
This tip is also relevant for choosing a social media management agency. If you are using an agency, it may be helpful to ask them what type of social media tool they are using and whether more extensive benchmarking analysis would cost you extra. This is because the extra costs may be passed back to you if the tool they are using is charging more for profile tracking.
So, if you want to make sure you are getting the most out of competitor analysis and benchmarking, check whether there are limits on profile tracking and analysis.
4. Look at Yearly Payments Instead of Monthly
One of the ways to find better social media management pricing packages is in the payment frequency. There are social media tools out there that offer discounts if you choose to pay on a yearly basis rather than monthly.
In reality, paying by the year can be a great way to save if you are certain that you like what the tool has to offer. In considering social media tool pricing, it may make sense to look closely at those tools offering this type of discount payment option.
If you choose to go this route, it is very important to make sure that there is a free trial period for the tool so you can make sure it is right for you. Otherwise, you may pay more up front and find out that the tool doesn’t cover all your needs.
Some cheap social media management tools may seem like a bargain from a pricing standpoint, but may not give you what you need for your social media activities. At the end of the day, this can end up costing you money and time, not to mention opportunities to improve your social media performance, since you may miss out on needed features.
In reality, social media management pricing structures may be complicated for a reason. Some companies want you to think you are getting a better deal than you really are. Transparency is the key here. Transparent pricing plans are those that list all functions you receive and highlight the differences between plans.
If you are looking for an all-in-one social media tool that provides you with industry-leading features, you can get a free 14-day trial to try out the Fanpage Karma all-in-one social media tool to determine if it is right for you.
You can also book a spot in our free webinar and see how you can get the most out of your social media tool from our social media experts.
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