How Much Does Social Media Cost Companies in 2012?

by Mack Collier

Social Media Marketing, Social Media Consulting, Social Media Marketing Fees, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Google Plus, YouTube, Pinterest

UPDATE: If you would like to see the newest version of my Social Media Marketing Rate Sheet, please Click Here.

Two years ago I wrote a post entitled So How Much Will a Social Media Strategy Cost, which was designed to give businesses and organizations an idea of how much they should expect to pay consultants and agencies for basic social media marketing services.  As you might expect, that post was insanely popular, so I followed it up with How Much Does Social Media Cost Companies in 2011 last year, and now this year those prices are being updated again with this post.  For all three, these prices are taken from published rates found online, as well as what other agencies and consultants have told me they charge for these services.

In general, both posts in 2010 and 2011 were designed to give companies basic price information around the most common services, such as setup and execution of a blog, Twitter and Facebook page, as well as basic Social Media Training.  In the comments of both posts, many of you mentioned that there were additional areas that you would like to see addressed in the future.

With that in mind, I reached out specifically to some friends and fellow consultants that offer Social Media Marketing services to their clients either as independents, or as part of an agency (their own, or someone else’s).  I would like to thank the following experts for helping me by giving me their rates for these services so I could have the most accurate price information(And on short-notice during the Holidays!):

Jason Falls, Tom Martin, Jay Baer, Tamar Weinberg, Nick Westergaard, Mitch Canter, Lisa Petrilli, David Griner, Drew McLellan, Bobby RettewDJ Waldow, Jennifer Kane and Kary Delaria.  If you have any questions about these services or need to hire a consultant or agency to help you with your Social Media Marketing efforts, please email me and I will be happy to work with you, or refer you to one or more of these fine people.  Also, please click their names to visit their blog/site and learn more about their services.

Before I get to the prices, I wanted to talk a bit about how the area of Social Media Consulting has changed over the last few years.  In 2008 and 2009, Social Media Consultants were in fairly high demand, especially the more well-known and established ones.  Companies were realizing that they needed to start using Social Media as a way to listen to and connect with their customers, yet they had little to no idea how to do so.  Enter the Social Media Consultant.  A shift in marketing philosophy by many companies created a real demand for professionals that could create and execute social media strategies for companies.

By 2010 and 2011, most companies began to understand that Social Media wasn’t simply a fad, and it was a business necessity that they needed to address via hiring.  Many companies, especially larger brands, hired Social Media Managers, and then entire Social Media Marketing teams.  This shift had a profound impact on the area of Social Media Consulting in two ways:

1 – Many of these companies hired existing Social Media Consultants to be their Social Media Managers and fill their Social Media Marketing teams.  Companies like Radian 6 and Edelman PR aggressively hired independent consultants as well as professionals at other agencies to build and compliment their own Social Media Marketing teams.

2 – Many of these companies stopped (or slowed in) hiring Social Media Consultants for execution work, instead giving that to their in-house team.  The successful consultants and agencies today are usually the ones that adapted the quickest to this change.

As a result, the average Social Media Consultant today is doing less execution work, and is spending more time actually consulting with and training companies on how to use Social Media properly.  Diversification is a good thing.

Now, on with the prices.  As with last year’s post, for every service I am providing a range, as well as a Most Charge distinction.  In general, the fees associated with setup of basic social media tools like a company blog, Twitter or Facebook page have gone down.  On the other hand, rates for comprehensive Social Media Strategy auditing, creation and training services have generally increased.

In general, smaller businesses and non-profits can expect to pay prices that are closer to the low end of the price range, while large companies and organizations will probably see their quoted rates closer to the top end of the range.

Also, when looking at rates for monthly content curation and management of individual social media tools, remember that the more content the consultant/agency has to curate and create/edit for you, the higher the rates.  Likewise, if you can handle the content creation and just need training and some light editing, then your rates will usually be lower.

Here’s the prices:

Blog

Custom design and template creation – $1,000 – $5,000

Most Charge – $1,000-$3,000 

Writing/Editing Content for the blog plus ongoing training – $500-$4,000 a month (Assume 1-2 posts a week at this rate)

Most Charge – $1,000-$3,000

Ghostwriting blog posts – $50-$500 per

Most Charge – $75-$200 per

 

Twitter

Account Setup - $500-$2,000

Most Charge – $500-$1,000 

Ongoing Account Management and Training – $500-$3,000 a month (For this service, the more content you need provided for you, the higher the fees)

Most Charge – $500-$1,500 a month

 

Facebook

Initial Page Setup – $500-$2,500

Most Charge – $500-$1,500

Monthly Content Management and Curation – $500-$3,000 a month 

Most Charge – $1,000-$2,000 a month

Facebook Promotion Creation

Short-Term (1-3 months) Contest, including branding for the app, limited promotion on other channels such as Facebook and Twitter to promote the contest.  Fee doesn’t include prize and Facebook Ads to promote – $1,500-$20,000

Long-Term (3-6 months) Contest, including above, more elaborate promotion based on client’s needs – $25,000-$75,000

Note: These are the ‘Big Three’ tools when it comes to Social Media for business, and many consultants and agencies will offer companies a package deal on setting up and maintaining all three.  For other tools such as Google Plus, Pinterest, MySpace (yes many entertainment and music-related businesses especially still use it) and others, assume that rates in general will be consistent for what you could expect to pay for similar services with Facebook or Twitter.

 

Video

Total to shoot, produce and edit video – $500 – $30,000 (Note:  Obviously, the complexity and length of the video plays a huge role in the final cost.  If you want custom animation, several scenes and a 30-minute video, obviously that’s going to cost far more than a simple, 2-minute one-on-one video.  One expert told me that they charge $1,000 per minute of finished product.)

 

Social Media Strategy 

Social Media Monitoring (Note – Number of keywords/phrases tracked here has a big impact on fees.  More costs more.):

Setup – $500-$5,000

Most Charge – $1,000-$2,000

Ongoing Reports and Advisement – $500-$7,500 a month

Most Charge – $1,000-$2,000

Social Media Strategy Audit (Examine existing Social Media Strategy and give detailed recommendations on what strategy should look like moving forward, with instructions on how to measure results) – $2,000-$25,000

Most Charge – $5,000-$10,000

Social Media Strategy Creation and Integration with Existing Marketing Efforts (Note – Most consultants and agencies will require that this service be married to a Social Media Strategy Audit, as they will then create the strategy recommended in the audit) – $10,000-$30,000

Most Charge – $10,000-$15,000

 

Social Media Training and Consulting

Hourly Training/Consulting – $50-$500 an hour

Most Charge – $100-$250 an hour

Note: These rates are for 1 hour of work.  If you can commit to a certain number of hours a month, for example, consultants and agencies will almost always give you a discount.

Social Media Workshops(All fees exclude travel and are for ON-SITE Workshops, not online):

Half-Day (Up to 4 hours): $500-$7,500

Most Charge – $2,000-$3,500

Full-Day (6-8 hours): $1,000-$15,000

Most Charge – $4,000-$6,000

Note: Keep in mind that these rates represent a significant amount of training and content creation time.  So if you pay a consultant $5,000 for a day-long workshop, that consultant might have spent 20 or 30 hours creating that workshop.  So the prep time has to be considered in addition to the actual time delivering the workshop when looking at fees.

 

Rates to Hire a Social Media Speaker

Individual session (Up to 90 minutes, usually 1 hour): $1,000-$5,000

Most Charge: $2,000-$3,000

Keynote: $1,000-$15,000

Most Charge: $5,000-$10,000

All rates exclude travel.

Finally, I wanted to close with some advice on choosing a Social Media Consultant.  First, before you begin the process of hiring a Social Media Consultant, you need to address a few areas:

  • Figure out what you want to accomplish via Social Media.  Do you want to generate sales?  Increase brand awareness?  Establish thought leadership for your CEO or company?  Connect with donors?  Giving some thought to what you want to accomplish via your social media efforts will make the rest of the process smoother.
  • What are your human resources?  How many people can work on your social media efforts?  If you have a team of 10 at the ready, then the amount of assistance you will need is far less than if you are the only person for your company that will be handling your social media efforts.  Know how many people can work on your social media efforts and how much time they can devote, because if you plan on executing a Social Media Strategy that will require a team of 5, and you only have 2, that shortcoming will have to be addressed either through hiring, or outsourcing to the agency/consultant.  Either way, it costs you money.
  • How long is your project going to be?  You probably can’t pin this down exactly without talking to the consultant first, but it helps to give some thought to this.

When you contact a consultant or agency, they should be asking you questions as well.  They should want to know why you want to use social media, what are you trying to accomplish.  If they try to give you prices or push you toward using a particular tool without asking you questions, that is a red flag.  They really can’t give you prices until they know more about your company, your resources, and what you are wanting to accomplish.  Even if you contact them and tell them you need prices on creating and launching a blog, they should still ask you some questions to determine if you do need a blog to reach your intended business goals for your social media strategy.

As always, I hope this helps you in creating your Social Media budgets for 2012.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment.

{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Social Media Chimps January 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

Thanks for sharing! It is very helpful to know rates/averages, etc… even if it is a ballpark.

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Desiree Scales January 3, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thanks Mack, good to know when pitching companies as a reality check for those writing the paper checks.

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Stephanie Frasco January 3, 2012 at 10:15 am

I am glad you broke this down. I think alot of people need to know how important Social Media is to their business and that it does cost alot because it is valuable. Social Media is much more than FB and Twitter.

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Kevin D. Lyons January 3, 2012 at 10:45 am

Spot on Mack once again! It has been interesting to watching client mindsets come-to-age in realizing the value of what we do correlates with what we charge (and under-charge). I have been shifting away from hourly and project based pricing to a “mind share” retainer space. This is charging for my attention more so than my time. This focuses client activity to results and execution. I still package “deliverables” that are outside the retainer agreements in to project pricing models like larger campaigns, speaking, Drupal community development, brand visuals, etc. My goal is to free myself from the “only so many billable hours in a week” squeeze play.

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Nick Westergaard January 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

Great post, Mack! I could be biased as I’m a part of it :) – Just kidding. This is insightful from so many perspectives. (1) For companies looking to engage a consultant or agency this post should be required reading. Not only from a cost perspective but to your last point as well — knowing as much about what you want to do going into a project is key. Yet so many miss that. (2) Selfishly, as part of this industry, it also gives consultants and agencies a critical industry report for this ever-changing segment of our business. A key takeaway for me was your insight on adaptability being key as the business and how it is priced and sold has changed even since you started compiling this. Well done and, of course, thanks for including me.

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Keith January 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm

This is great! Such a helpful resource for clients and colleagues. So much of our industry is done behind closed doors, so it’s nice to see everyone come together and share the realities of pricing. I think it helps the consultants and agencies more, and of course helps set client expectations as well. Thanks for putting this together.

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Marie Germain January 3, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Dear Jay,
You work so hard for your readers. You deserve our time. Like every story you write this one is detailed, intelligent and so helpful. Receiving your email (and Mark Schaefer’s) in the morning are the toast to my coffee.
Thanks so much for being so generous with your ideas and your time.
May 2012 give you as much as you give all of us.
Marie

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Marie Germain January 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm

What a blunder. Sorry Mark. I should have scrolled up. This is what you get from people who sleep well!! BUT I loved your story a great deal. So helpful indeed!
Have a great year!

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Mack Collier January 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Thanks Marie ;) Happy New Year to you!

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Afi Scruggs January 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I’ve dedicated this year to improving my social media skills and this post, indeed this site, is helping immensely. Thanks for the clear language and the suggestion to create goals before talking about money.

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Michele Price @prosperitygal January 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Yeah Mack and Nick big read flag for me recently as I was given a referral and in our first meeting I was stopped from asking the very kind of questions Mack talks about. It is always what i do so I can better understand their needs to make an accurate recommendation. I was told to just give them a ball park proposal, ROFLMAO. They could not really answer any of those questions in a way that allowed for a clear vision to create a strategy. As a mater of fact “how” they asked me to create this broad proposal was rather abrupt, like they were not wanting to participate in any discovery or exploration on their part.

I see 2012 being the year social media consultants start telling more potential clients no, when they ask for the ridiculous. ( instead of trying to help them see the error of their thinking)

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Nick Westergaard January 4, 2012 at 12:12 am

Michele – Don’t forget that many usually want the ‘ballpark proposal’ with little idea of the actual business goals they are hoping to accomplish. That’s what Mack nails in his closing argument here, too. As much as setting a cost expectation, companies need to set actual goals and expectations of what they are hoping to do. Cheers and happy 2012!

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Mack Collier January 4, 2012 at 11:46 am

Michele it almost sounds like their boss had just told them to get some rates that they could compare against what their agency of record was wanting to charge them? I’ve had that happen to me before.

Over the last year, I’ve been doing less and less execution work. It’s just too much of a headache, and too frustrating to hold a potential client’s hand for 6 months, jumping on calls every other week, providing additional materials (that take time to accumulate) and then to finally be told that the budget isn’t there, maybe next year.

Not sure if its that consultants need to start telling clients ‘no’, but maybe we need to do a better job of understanding who the RIGHT clients for us are?

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matthew wright January 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

Great piece Mack. Very timely as well. I’m a senior content manager with NCI. We had a great training session with you in 2010. I always enjoy your work.

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Mack Collier January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

Thank you Matthew! Ironically, and to tie in with Michele’s comment above, around the time I visited NCI for the first time, that was when I decided that I wanted to focus more on training and workshops, and less on execution work.

Maybe it was just that working with y’all was so inspiring ;) Tell all my Digital and Community Sherpa friends that I said hello!

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Stephanie Nelson January 4, 2012 at 10:02 am

Thanks for the post, Mack! I’ve just started my own social media consulting firm, so it’s good to see the going rates while I’m still in the process of setting my prices.

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Mack Collier January 4, 2012 at 11:51 am

Congratulations, Stephanie! Don’t worry, many of us are still tinkering with our pricing structure for some services! Ever-evolving landscape and all that jazz ;) Good luck on your new firm!

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Steve Woodruff January 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

Mack, gathering up this info and writing this post was a huge service. Thanks so much. Very valuable ranges to benchmark with!

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Keri January 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

Mack,

Thank you for this post. Some good discussion you’ve sparked!

I think Michelle has a point – 2012 is a year to be realistic. Use the word no. Too, I think some businesses don’t really understand enough to formulate goals until they know some type of ballpark budget. Maybe 2012 is the year to figure out that catch22…?

Your post affirms that I’m in the ballpark.

Thanks again,

~Keri

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Ginger January 4, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Interesting post, Mack. The only addition I’d make to your list would be the fees associated with analytics/measurement for each social media service. After all, one of a consultant’s/agency’s greatest value-adds beyond these services is providing clients with ongoing analysis of how their efforts across social channels are faring and stacking up against previously identified business objectives!

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Cynthia K Seymour January 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm

This is an excellent post. Business owners sometimes have a hard time understanding the nuances of the social media channels. While these tools are “free,” the proper set-up, the time and the knowledge that it takes to teach our clients how to effectively use these tools is not free. Often, business owners have “heard of” social media, but underestimate the time, knowledge and skill that it takes to effectively use online marketing as a means to building better business relationships. Thank you!

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Jorgen Poulsen January 5, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Just in time for my meeting on Monday. Let’s see if these prices hold up on the Cote d’Azur. I will post a picture of me with a black eye if it doesn’t go down well.

On a serious note, mark do you know if these prices apply to Europe? Also, I assume the customization prices excludes out of pocket expenses.

Jorgen

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Mack Collier January 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Jorgen these prices are very US-centric. And assume all fees exclude out of pocket expenses unless noted.

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Ward De Muynck January 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

Thanks for sharing this interesting information Mack.

Do you know of any reports with European prices Jorgen? It would be interesting to compare both places and prices.

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Jorgen Poulsen January 29, 2012 at 10:04 am

No I have no reports about European prices. I second what Michelle is saying as I have already priced myself out at least one time. Companies have no idea about the time, effort and knowledge that goes into a successful strategy.

The client I lost were offered to do set, on-page optimisation of website, ongoing management etc. etc. for $660 per month. It’s at least 20 hours per month which equates to $33 an hour. I just charged a company $500 for migrating a personal profile and merging it with an existing Facebook Page. Now there’s a quick buck.

Why would I sell a close to full service package for $660 per month?

These company provides a tick-the-box product where they set up the basics FB, LI, G+, Blog and twitter and then they commit to a certain number of postings and tweets. As long as they can prove they have ticked the box the client will have to pay.

As the client has absolutely no idea what it takes to have a successful strategy (they just wan to be in Social Media) they think it sounds like a great deal. Of course it’s not and they will soon find out.

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Jeff Belonger August 15, 2012 at 12:33 am

Jorgen… that is one of my main problems and pet peeves. Those that undercut not a little, but a lot and the client doesn’t realize until way after the fact. Yes, they find out, but not only do they lose, but you lost because you didn’t get the deal. And in my findings, it would be rare for that client to reach back out to you.. they just move on and seek someone like yourself… yet taking another risk.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 1:33 am
Bobby Rettew January 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Mack…as always, great information. I appreciate you including me on this list of smart people.

I am always fascinated not only how much people charge but how they package their services. One of things that jumped out at me from this post…I would love to talk with people about a comparative pricing model between completely managing a large organizations social presence versus helping leading a team within the organization to manage the social presence. Two different philosophies, two different approaches, two different models. I am thinking that the social space is probably one of the first “medias”??? where it makes sense to empower the community within an organization to lead the social initiatives.

As always, smart stuff here and truly a post that will empower many as they set their sights for 2012!

BR

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Neal Schaffer January 6, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Hey Mack,

Thanks for taking the time to not only write an insightful post, but to also base it off of a collective experience of well-known social media consultants.

I established my own social media strategy consulting firm two years ago, and I have been basing my pricing solely on solution selling and budgetary guidelines. While I haven’t offered all of the services that you mentioned, I did want to say that what I find the market will bear is very much aligned with the pricing that you have here.

My bread and butter product has been social media strategy creation – which always included a social media audit – so it is interesting to see how consultants have broken that out in to two different pieces. With the maturity of social business, and the fact that many social media consultants are now told to revise existing strategies, having the audit as a separate service makes sense.

The interesting thing about all of the above pricing is that, over the last few months, I have merged my own social media strategy consulting efforts into working together as an executive of two different social media agencies. The agency pricing model, as you can imagine, is very different than the piece-meal, often commodity-looking pricing that consultants give out.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that every consultant’s business model will be different. For instance, some may undercharge certain components in order to get business for their higher value-add services. Some may just want to workshops while others just want to do speaking. As you can see from the variety of service offerings each social media consultant has, no two social media consultants are alike.

Thanks again – and looking forward to your further insight!

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Josepf J Haslam January 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Mack,
great post, am jumping in as a reply to Neal’s post. Neal makes some excellent observations. Not only are all consultants not alike but agencies vary differently in their offerings and service levels as well.

Thanks for pointing out the huge red flags on pricing and product. This flag works both ways. Sometimes potential clients insist on knowing a price, before you have any idea what they need. I typically say $10,000. This usually gets them to slow down for a second and ask. I tell them I have no idea what they’ll get for $10,000 but it sounds like a nice price. :)

The single most important thing I think is to know how results will be measured. Never confuse activity with results… A good consultant will always try to tie back to Business Results. An excellent consultant or agency will insist upon it. This is why I love DragonSearch’s (disclosure, I do Business Development for @RicDragon!) Case Study approach. Every client is a case study. We tie back activities to business objectives and spend a fair bit of time in strategy and analysis with our clients. It is always very satisfying to “look back” and see the progress.

So, do yourself a favor.
1) Have some good ideas what you are trying to achieve.
2) Make sure your partner aligns with and supports your objectives.
3) Make sure you have ways to measure results that contribute to PROFIT.

Okay, back to my weekend and the Strawberry Daiquiri’s my lady just whipped up :)

– Josepf

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Lewis Poretz January 13, 2012 at 11:41 am

Great post Mack – and 100% on target. Seems like what you describe above gets more defined every year. We all know social media is an ever changing world with new platforms and services coming out daily. Keeping up with those platforms and services alone is a full time job and is reflected in the pricing you show above.

What a great guideline you have posted and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next year.

Michele’s ( @prosperitygal ) comment above will start to resonate more and more in 2012 – “I see 2012 being the year social media consultants start telling more potential clients no”

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Susan Hacker January 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Thank You! This is invaluable information, insight, and ideas for us as we look to refocus and grow our efforts in 2012. And, I certainly appreciate the honest feedback from all of you in the field. My partner is the social while I manage the projects,contracts, etc.

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Gregg Masters (@2healthguru) January 18, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Mack, truly great stuff and guidance for benchmark pricing in the community.

Appreciate your diligence in compiling initial data set, but especially your regular updates.

Thanks mucho!!

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David Gadarian January 20, 2012 at 8:50 am

Great stuff. Thanks for sharing. I remember the last time I was on this site I thought to myself I better pay more attention to that site with the guy in the cowboy hat! Just added you to my Netvibes. Happy New Year and nice to “meet” you.

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Mack Collier January 20, 2012 at 11:03 am

Thank you David!

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Angela Shoffner January 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Thanks for posting and continuing to update your findings! This helps me to make sure we are “in the ballpark” with our pricing and company direction. We’ve noticed many of the same trends. It’s nice to know that others in the field are with you! Thanks! Great post.

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Kyle Lanning February 9, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thanks Mack for the great break down. Educating our clients or potentials with the vast array of benefits that social media can bring to their business is vital. Many small biz owners get sticker shock!

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Peter March 15, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Fascinating article.

Do you think that social media is just another bubble?

Secondly, owing to the advancement of social media, do you think that firms would pay say an annually fee to have their own profile page say for an up and coming social media site?

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Cathy Dunham April 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’d love to hear your feedback and experience on businesses who’ve successfully hired an outside social media agency (individual or team) to handle all of their social media – from setup to execution. Especially for small to mid-size businesses or B2B businesses.

Personally, I think today’s consumers want to interact with the companies directly. Especially if it’s an owner or an engaging staff or social media point person. It may often be a proficient strategy to hire an agency to get you started (strategies, social channel selection, setup) and even train you or your staff how to post, listen and respond – in real time. But having an agency conduct your social media 100%…, how would you ever truly know and understand the pulse of your customers?

I heartily agree with Michelle and Keri: “2012 is the year to be realistic!”

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Kate April 20, 2012 at 11:19 am

Fascinating article. I’m not aware of any similar surveys for the UK (might start one!) but what I’m generally seeing here is a huge spike in “bargain basement” social media, either based on automated, spammy campaigns by larger organisations (“200 tweets each month for £50!” – kinda a worse version of what Jorgen mentioned above) or homeworkers who dabble in outsourced management for pocket money.
Add to that the fact that many companies starting out in social media still have very little idea how to distinguish good service from bad, or what’s involved in doing a decent job of social media strategy and execution, i’d expect to see some price erosion in the 2013 stats – look forward to the next installment!

PS as regards the “ball park figure proposal” brigade, my all time favourite was a prospect who refused to answer any questions until i’d told them what we’d charge to “get them to No1 on LinkedIn”. No, me neither.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 1:34 am

Have a look here Kate. How do you compete with this

http://www.mkmarketingservices.com/Social-Media-Marketing-Proposals.htm

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Kate August 15, 2012 at 2:40 am

Hi Jorgen
If your customer is reasonably smart, it’s not too hard to compete – firstly give them a rough outline of the hours involved, divide by the rate and get them to ask themselves why anyone would work for probably $1 an hour if they’re any good.
Secondly, I’d encourage anyone thinking of taking up an offer like this to ask for several examples of client accounts and examine the outbound content critically – it’s highly likely to be semi-automated / “spun” article rubbish!
That said, there’ll always be one or two prospects who refuse to see beyond the price – but in my experience they’re a huge drag to work with anyway.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 10:53 am

Hi Kate,

I don’t disagree with what you’re saying but it’s still difficult to justify a price difference between say $2 an hour and $70 an hour for example.

I do in fact what you suggest. I tell my clients I need one hour per day which is 22 hours and 40 minutes per month times my hourly rate.

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Mack Collier August 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

Jorgen and Kate, interesting discussion here. There will always be someone that can charge less, so I would suggest y’all don’t focus on the prices the competition charges, focus on the RESULTS you will provide. Someone might be willing to manage a company’ blog for $100 a month, but will they promise specific results? Will they promise a 20% increase in referral traffic to the website? A 10% increase in product trials? A 5% increase in sales?

Odds are they won’t. So when you charge ten times as much for the same service, if you can point to specific results that the client will see, you greatly increase the chance of getting the client’s business. Adding a guarantee is even better. Clients will pay more if they know they are getting better service with more verifiable results.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 11:17 am

Hi Mark,

I don’t really focus on competitors’ prices. My prices are what they are and time will see if the market can bear it.

However, I think it is almost impossible to promise certain results as you mentioned. How is it possible to promise a 20% increase in referral traffic and even give a guarantee?

Not saying it’s not possible but I have yet to find a way whereby I know with a high certainty that this will happen.

I would be more than pleased to understand how others can make these promises and not risk losing their shirt (or skirt) :)

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Mack Collier August 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

Jorgen you are right, it is often hard to guarantee specific results, especially when those specific results may be partly dependent on the client executing on your direction.

But you can still guarantee your work if you are creative. For example, I offer a Social Media Strategy Audit to brands, and charge $7,500.00 US for it. While that’s not incredibly expensive, many competitors charge less than that for the same service. The difference is, my service comes with a guarantee: The client makes three payments, the first two of which come as I am preparing the audit. The third is due when I deliver the finished report, and is completely optional. If the client is satisfied with the quality of the audit, then they can make the final payment. If they aren’t, then they get to keep their money. You could do something similar with your services as a way to make them more attractive.

My point is, if someone else is charging rock-bottom prices and you (or anyone else) is thinking ‘how can I compete with that?!?’ then you aren’t being creative enough ;) The old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’ is definitely applicable when it comes to social media marketing services. You don’t compete on price, you compete on results.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

Mark,

you should outsource some of your work to me :) Just kidding.

I don’t charge as much as you because I’m still fairly young in this game compared to you and others so I can’t really attract clients with a budget big enough to pay that kind of money.

But I’m constantly raising my prices to see what the market can bear.

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Mack Collier August 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Jorgen also think about what services you can offer that would create the most value for potential clients.

For example, the average small business may be trying to do their own social media. Maybe they have a blog, Twitter and Facebook. None of them are stellar, but they get by. If you offer them X amount a month to manage their SM, you are offering a service they don’t need.

But…if you offered them say 5 hours a month to ‘look over their shoulder’ and give them advice as needed, that might be something that they are interested in. Or maybe you could do it on a yearly basis, I have friends that charge clients for X number of hours and they have the entire year to use those hours for whatever they need help with. Or you could schedule monthly or even quarterly consultation calls. Sure, each one might not be a ton of money for you, but it might be the more flexible and valuable option for your clients. And if you can find enough clients to take you up on this, it can really add up.

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Jorgen Poulsen August 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I agree Mark. Training can be a nice component. I just finished social media training for a boarding school which want to keep it in house. I have an additional 2 months of ‘looking over the shoulder’ contract for 10 hours per month.

As an aside I recently offered a twitter training course guaranteeing people they could build a targeted following of 5,000 in 6 months if they followed my strategies. In addition, I offered a money back guarantee if they didn’t feel they had learned enough and the end of the course.

The price was $200 for a full day!!! I got one taker. Go figure :)

Tumara October 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Jorgen, I think that when you look at the clientele that she has you can see that it is mainly independent distributors for at-home businesses. There are all levels of business incomes and needs within the business world. The best advice I got was from a friend of mine that mentors new businesses and is on the board of directors for the business college at the University of Iowa. He said 20% of people will pay the cheapest rate, 10% will pay the most expensive rate and then you have 70% of people that will pay the median rate, because they believe that if you pay the cheapest rate you will get cheap work, they also believe that you don’t have to pay the highest rate to get quality work. Just my two cents. Be confident in what your charge and the quality of work you put out.

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Lois Ridley May 10, 2012 at 12:16 am

This is totally fascinating….
Helpful info for my upcoming presentation. Thanks!

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Joe Burke July 24, 2012 at 6:09 am

Thanks Mark

Great to have some idea of pricing, although I am targeting the UK and unsure how these prices stack up over here.

Thanks

Joe

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Abhishek@seo marketing July 28, 2012 at 1:34 am

thanks for the indepth details on the pricing structure…really helpful for someone looking to engage social media experts for their business..

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prince samuels August 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I’m relief now Mack. I was thinking about offering social management to local businesses but didn’t know the exact rate now I know because of your great post. Keep up the good work.

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Howtosection September 2, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Apart from the rest, getting a blog design and posting some blog posts shouldn’t cost too much. It can be done with even lesser for businesses.

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Techgyo September 2, 2012 at 6:07 pm

I didn’t know there is a great deal of social marketing which I can offer s service. Some things you mention are things we bloggers do on day to day life for our own blogs. And it shouldn’t cost a lot for small businesses to start with

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Renée October 18, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Excellent article Mack – very useful, thanks for posting!
I’m following you now on Twitter so I can keep up with all your news and views. Interesting to compare what’s going on here in London :)

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Julian Martinez November 5, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Excellent article, Mack!!! Social media is still very much a Wild West of sorts. You have the recent community college grad with an AA in Marketing charging a few hundred bucks to unknowing business owners. And with barriers to entry being non-existent, anyone with a computer and a social media account can pawn themselves off as a “social media guru”. This situation is further muddied by the business owner’s own lack of social media knowledge – to a social media newbie, just claiming a Fan Page’s Vanity URL serves as “evidence” of your social media expertise.

I’ve found that this lack of education is the single biggest challenge in talking to prospective clients. The reason “price” is the focus of their conversation is that the small business owner has little to no understanding of social media’s benefits, but price, that anyone can understand. Business owners just know they need to be on social media. So in their minds, the lowest possible price to have a presence will get the job done for them. They are not experienced enough in good vs bad posts, spam vs non-spam, engagement vs simply launching a page so they can say “Like us on Facebook!”. They need to be educated on WHY social media is important, which would then inform them as to why it is an investment they need to make. But too many of them are too inexperienced with FB/Twitter, so again, it comes down to “what is the ballpark price?”!

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Carol P November 16, 2012 at 1:31 am

I guess its normal, cause when you engage into business you really have to spend. Its like playing cards you really have to gamble.

You want to get good ROI? so have to spend to get it.

If you want to start in a cheapest way, then do it with yourself or ask a friend to help you out or you can have an affiliate program or commission base.

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Harry December 2, 2012 at 3:46 am

I have been using Elance or odesk to hire and you are able to get some good quality work for much lower prices. It is worth considering, as spending thousands of dollars a month on fb + twitter maybe over the budget.

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Jasmine Wilder December 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Hello

I am a PR senior just finished a internship at Seeking Sitters. I really want to become their full time social media manager, and launch a 6-month social media campaign for their company. They are a national franchise company, and they are badly in need of a promotion, customer intergration, and actvitiy on their social media platform. I think this the perfect opportunity for me to learn and gain experience in a field I am already passionate about. However since I have little experience but just in the right time and right place, what should I negotiate as my monthly salary for this next 6 month period. And any advice on how to present the information about why they NEED social media management within their company.

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Wayne Melton December 11, 2012 at 7:27 am

This is actually a pretty good post. Thanks for the great information. Never thought about need a social media “budget”. Of course some of this like the website, etc. is basic for business. Do most small businesses really look for a consultant or do they simply try it themselves.

Is there a way to measure the results and effectiveness of your consultant?

Thanks
Wayne Melton

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Pranav January 3, 2013 at 3:13 am

Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if you had any data on what a typical agency spends on a monthly basis on a social media listening tool such as Radian6 and Sysomos. I was also wondering if there is any data on the ADDITIONAL social media related tasks and costs incurred by an agency after they get the data they need from the social media listening tool reports.

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bail bonds in colorado January 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Hi, i feel that i noticed you visited my website thus i got here to go back the favor?.I’m trying to in finding issues to enhance my website!I suppose its good enough to make use of a few of your ideas!!

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Lisa Trenton February 19, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Really love seeing this detailed breakdown of prices for all the different types of services available out there in social media. It also gives us an idea of what to expect to pay someone if we were to bring them in house and do this full-time. I’m really looking forward to seeing these prices for 2013 to see how much they have changed. Since you’ve done this for a couple years it would be incredible to see a percentage change up or down! :) Thanks for taking the time to do this Mack, very helpful.

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edwin March 27, 2013 at 9:16 am

hi i wanted to know how one goes around to aquire new clients for a startup digital media agency like how to contact clients for the first time what information should i have at hand to present to them

Thanks

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Ali April 13, 2013 at 11:30 am

I have a B.SC degree in computer science, my wife and I started a home based clothing business in late 2011 and in about 18 months we were able to acquire over 8000 facebook fans. We have a monthly advertising budget of $150. I have been offered a sub contracting position through a reference to manage their client’s facebook business pages. I have comprehensive knowledge due to our business of all facebook has to offer in terms or ads, event, offer, reporting, analysis etc.

I do not have a formal offer, but the compensation will be project based, where each project will last atleast 3 months. I am not sure how much I should charge per month per project. I am looking for some feedback. Thanks in advance.

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Jeremy Lee April 18, 2013 at 3:20 am

I have to agree with Jorgen. If you don’t want to spend a penny in setting up your own fully optimise social media account then you have to do it yourself. As for me, it wouldn’t hurt if you go find a good online services out there.

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Pamela June 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

Looking at this makes me think my rates might be too low. I am bookmarking this page & want the opportunity to read (and digest) what all the comments say too.

In my opinion, social media consulting is invaluable.

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jose avendano June 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I like the blog, are excellent articles
congratulations.

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mike lee July 12, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Wow, i never thought you can charge so much for handling social media. I really need to rethink my prices after this post. Thanks for the insight!

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Grazina A. Szewczyk July 17, 2013 at 3:50 am

Thanks for that, it looks well researched, and thought through. What I really like it the “Most Charge” part, quite interesting.
It’s amazing how much one can learn from just reading the comments :)
I’m going to read through your older posts, and share them with my clients, I hope it’s OK.

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