So how much will a social media strategy cost?

by Mack Collier

UPDATE: If you would like to view my Social Media Rate Sheet to see what I currently charge for social media consulting services, please click here.

One of the most frequent questions I get about social media is the cost. What will launching a blog/Facebook fan page/Twitter presence cost me? What will a social media strategy cost? The answer is never clear-cut and depends on several factors, including:

  • What are your goals for using social media?  This greatly determines the tools necessary to achieve those goals
  • What are your resources?  Can you handle everything in-house, or will you need to outsource some of the work?  All of the work?
  • What is the length of the project?  Obviously, a 6-month project will cost more than a 3-month project.

From my point of view as a consultant, I am looking at how much work is involved, and what type of work, when I give a quote.  One word of caution; If you contact a consultant or firm about doing social media work, they SHOULD ask you several questions before they can give you a price.  If a company contacts me and asks “Ok, what’s it going to cost us to launch a blog?”, then I can’t answer that question without more information.  And here’s a tip; If you ask a consultant/agency how much it will cost to launch a blog/Facebook fan page/Twitter presence for you and they immediately quote you a price, that is a big red flag.  They can’t answer that question until they know what your resources and goals are for using social media.

Now, I know what you are thinking.  “Yeah that’s great Mack, but give me some prices!”  While it’s almost impossible to give any company an accurate quote without talking to them about the above and so much more, I’ll share some ranges with you to give you an idea of what to expect.  And I will caution you that these are my prices, some agencies/consultants will be more, some will be less, and you should consider this a guide only.

Blog:

Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource all content creation (including customer interaction) – $3,000-$6,000 a month

Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource all content creation at first, eventually take over – $3,000-$6,000 a month for 3-6 months

Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource some content creation till you can handle all – $2,500-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months

Restructure an existing blog to improve your efforts – $3,000-$6,000 a month for 3-6 months

Limited coaching to improve your existing blogging efforts – $1,500-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

Twitter:

Launch a new presence on Twitter and outsource all content creation and customer interaction – $2,000-$5,000 a month

Launch a new presence on Twitter and outsource all content creation at first, gradually taking over – $2,000-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months

Restructure an existing Twitter presence to improve your efforts – $1,500-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

Limited coaching to improve your existing efforts on Twitter – $1,500-$3,000 a month for 3-6 months

Facebook:

Launch a Facebook Fan Page from the ground-up, outsourcing all content creation and customer interactions – $3,000-$6,000 a month

Launch a Facebook Fan Page from the ground-up, outsourcing most of the content creation at first, gradually taking on more – $3,000-$6,000 a month for 3-6 months

Launch a Facebook Fan Page from the ground-up, outsourcing some content creation at first, till you can handle all – $2,500-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months.

Restructure an existing Facebook Fan Page to improve your existing efforts – $2,000-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

Limited coaching on improving your Facebook Fan Page – $1,500-$3,000 a month for 3-6 months

Social Media Strategy:

Comprehensive Social Media Strategy, assuming outsourcing of all content creation through all channels (not recommended) – $5,000-$12,000 a month

Comprehensive Social Media Strategy, assuming outsourcing of most content creation at first, with company assuming more responsibility as project proceeds – $4,000-$9,000 a month for 4-12 months

Creation of a Social Media Strategy, with limited coaching and assistance with execution of the strategy – $3,000-$6,000 a month for 3-9 months

Restructuring of existing Social Media Strategy, with limited coaching and assistance with strategy – $2,500-$6,000 a month for 3-9 months

Limited coaching on improving the execution of an existing Social Media Strategy – $2,000-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months

Social Media Strategy Audit – $2,000-$5,000

Thanks to Anita for leaving a comment that reminded me to include this.  This is a service I offer to companies that gives them an audit of their existing social media strategy, as well as that of their competitors and the marketplace, to give them a suggested course of action for social media, moving forward.  This is for companies that aren’t sure how to proceed with social media, and want to know what sort of resources they will need to use social media effectively.  I have been getting several requests for this service over the last couple of months as companies begin setting their budgets for 2010.

Again, these figures should be considered a guide to get you started.  Obviously, the more work you need, the more the cost.  For example, if you have a team of 10 bloggers that I will be coaching, it’s probably going to cost more than if I am working with 2 people.

One final point: In general I don’t advise companies to outsource their social media efforts.  If you need to outsource some/most of your efforts at first till you get up to speed, that’s fine.  But if you hire someone to create and execute a social media strategy for you and outsource EVERYTHING to them, then you’re locked into needing to pay them big money for as long as you use social media.  And what happens if they are hired by a company?  There goes your social media strategy.

I understand that some companies need to outsource.  But in the long-run, your efforts will be more effective, and cheaper, the more you can handle yourself.  I was talking to a company recently about their launching a blog.  We were discussing if the company had the resources to keep and MAINTAIN a blog.  The CEO said he could that he had a great passion for his products, and the people that use them.  I pointed out that the PASSION was the one area that can’t be outsourced.  I can show you how to craft content that will be more valuable to customers and show you how to encourage interaction, but I won’t be able to match the passion or understanding that YOU have for your business.  That can’t be outsourced.

PS: If you’d like to get a custom quote on a social media project that you are considering, please email me!

NOTE: If you found this post via a Google search, this post first appeared in 2010.  The prices and services in this post have been updated for 2011 and you can find those prices here.

{ 66 comments }

Lisa Petrilli February 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Mack,

This is a keeper – I expect to refer to this often and I plan to share this post with my colleagues at MENG and at the CEO Connection because:

1. Right away you hit them with the questions they need to be thinking about in regard to their social media strategy (but, unfortunately, may not have asked themselves yet). This means that when they are ready to talk to you or to other consultants they will be prepared and time will be used much more productively. It may seem surprising but many of the executives I work with are preoccupied with what they’ve heard about the tools, and have not given adequate thought to the end-goal or to whether their corporate culture supports a social media strategy.

2. I love that you are up front about the fact that it is not ideal for them to outsource everything, but, at the same time, you realize that in many cases these executives want to be sure that they have help getting started and to feel fully comfortable that they are on the right path.

3. The fact that your CEO client was talking about passion is so inspiring! How refreshing that you told him you can’t replicate it.

As always, thank you for sharing your genius and your advice. :)
.-= Lisa Petrilli´s last blog ..LisaPetrilli: Great Insights RT @RockTheBoatMKTG: Delivering a mobile strategy in 2011 may be one year late http://bit.ly/bGvRex =-.

Mack Collier February 10, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Thank you Lisa. I was still on the fence about whether or not the company could handle a blog, till the CEO started talking about he WANTED to share his passion for the products and his customers. That was the one thing I wanted to hear ;) As we all know, it takes a real commitment to get a blog off the ground, and if the passion isn’t there, the company might want to quit before they reach their goals.

Kevin Hillstrom February 10, 2010 at 4:48 pm

You’re worth more than that — of course, if you’re working on six projects like that at the same time, then that’s different.
.-= Kevin Hillstrom´s last blog ..Digital Profiles: Creating Each Profile =-.

Mack Collier February 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Thanks Kevin.

David Griner February 10, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Good list, Mack. It’s a rare move to see a consultant put actual pricing out there, and it says a lot about your commitment to transparency.

My only caveat would be that prices will begin to vary wildly when customized apps come into the equation, which they quickly do on Facebook. With most major brands using custom apps on tabs now, I think it’s given smaller businesses false impression that it’s an easy thing to do.

In my experience, app development cost can easily eclipse the actual social media planning time, but businesses still want their presence to have some “sizzle” beyond basic content.
.-= David Griner´s last blog ..Is Google Buzz too much too soon — or too little too late? =-.

Mack Collier February 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm

David you’re right, it can be a wide range for any of these tools, or all of them at the same time. I started not to put prices in, but I knew some people would think “Ok why’d you write the post if you aren’t going to have any prices?”

As with so many things in life, your mileage may vary ;)

Christina February 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Thank you for providing this information. As someone who touts the value of social media to companies on a daily basis, I can’t tell you how many crazy looks I get from people when they hear that creating a social media strategy isn’t completely free. Social media isn’t a gimmick and shouldn’t be treated as one, but rather planned and nurtured like any other initiative.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

Christina I understand completely. From about 2004-2006, many of us in this space were begging companies to start using social media, pointing out that these were FREE TOOLS that they could be using to connect with customers!

So companies finally took us up on our offer, and now they want to know why using these free tools, will cost them money? You can use them for free in most cases, but it takes time and effort to learn how to use them correctly. There are no shortcuts.

Rob Ungar February 10, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Mack,

I really liked this post and couldn’t agree more at running from a company or consultant who already has a price made up without looking at the specific case.

My philosophy is completely in line with yours in terms of getting clients started but eventually taking the training wheels off and letting them roam free.

Lastly, I think you’re spot on about the passion aspect. I actually wrote a post on Kodak and touched on the passion point: http://robungar.com/blog/2009/11/5/yer-doin-it-right-kodak.html

Keep up the great content,

Rob
.-= Rob Ungar´s last blog ..Update on Rob =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

Thanks Rob, I have noticed that many of the consultants that I really respect have the same mentality. Someone, I think it was Connie Reece, told me that “It’s my job to work myself out of a job.”

And thanks for the link to your post on Kodak, will definitely check it out!

Connie Reece February 11, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Yep, that was me, Mack. That phrase became a way for me to explain, exactly as you’ve set out here, that it really doesn’t work to outsource everything. Help the client get everything set up, then teach them how to use all the tools. The length of time will vary, but 3-6 months is a good estimate.

I’ve also told clients that when the time comes, I will help them screen and/or interview candidates they hire to implement their social media strategies. Again, “it’s my job to work myself out of a job.” Thanks for remembering that.
.-= Connie Reece´s last blog .."Producing content and lobbing it over the firewall to an “audience” will only confuse communities…." =-.

Anna Barcelos February 10, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Mack, your posts are like comfort food! While I agree with Kevin H that you’re worth more than that ;-), these prices are very realistic. I definitely agree that there has to be a discovery process with clients when proposing SM programs (SM “gurus” get stumped here). This pricing isn’t too far off from what my own company quotes for social media efforts. It also reinforces the fact that social media does have associated costs and is a true investment. Thank you for this very handy guide.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 9:10 am

Hi Anna! One thing I also try to do with the pricing is if the project involves the company outsourcing some content creation to me at first, then they take over more as the project progresses, then we’ll start out with a shorter project term. Some companies simply ‘get’ social media quicker than others, so if a company takes to social media like a fish to water, and only needs a 4-month project, why lock them into a 6-month project up front? What I’ll do is let them know upfront that this could be a 6-month project, but instead of committing to that at the start, let’s go with 4 months and decide later if we really need those extra 2 months. Or it could be that the end of the 4-month project they decide they only need limited coaching for the 5th and 6th months, instead of something more intensive.

You know this, but with many companies just now creating social media budgets, you really have to take that into consideration and make sure companies are getting the most ‘bang’ for their buck!

Anita Campbell February 11, 2010 at 8:26 am

Hi Mack,

This is a very helpful post — and kudos to you for putting this out there. You’ve demonstrated that social media is an ongoing commitment, not a one-time event. More importantly, it requires INVOLVEMENT by the business on an ongoing basis to be successful at it.

Question for you: what is the typical size company that you deal with? Is it a large corporation, or midsize company (i.e., more than 100 employees)? Because if you add up the services (blog, Twitter, Facebook, strategy) it could be a substantial monthly expense. Just curious about the size of business that is in your sweet spot for these types of services.

Best,
Anita
.-= Anita Campbell´s last blog ..Business Twitterers I Admire & Learn From =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 9:19 am

Hi Anita! Thanks for the comment and RT on Twitter!

Right now, the typical client for me is either a small or mid-sized business. The small business usually has started using social media, and needs coaching or restructuring of its existing efforts, which costs about 1/3 to half of what it would to launch a new strategy from the ground up. I have also started creating other packages for small businesses that give them mentoring and coaching on a limited basis, that still fits within their budget.

The mid-sized companies that are contacting me are ones that, for the most part, are starting to put together a social media budget. They are contacting me to either launch a strategy for them, or to do a social media strategy audit so they can decide what they should be doing with social media. The companies that need the audit are wanting to take over some or all of the execution themselves.

I should have listed the social media strategy audit in the post, I will edit the post and add it, thanks for the reminder!

Anita Campbell February 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

Thanks for the clarification, Mack. That makes perfect sense. In other words, smaller businesses wouldn’t necessarily be opting for the Full Monty — they’d probably start out with something more limited, identify a specific issue or two, and get coaching just on those issues. And I imagine they’d be more likely to tackle one thing at a time. Maybe improve the blog first. Then once they get the blog humming along, later they might set a goal to improve their Facebook presence. That’s a good way to budget time as well as money….
.-= Anita Campbell´s last blog ..Business Twitterers I Admire & Learn From =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 10:34 am

Anita you are exactly right. You know this better than anyone, but you really have to work within the framework of the often very limited resources that small businesses have. It requires getting creative sometimes to give them the option that works best for them!

Jamie Sandford February 11, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thanks, Mack — it’s about time that we start to see some transparency with regard to social media costs. We’re a very theoretical and strategic bunch and you rarely see numbers being floated around. Hats off to you.
.-= Jamie Sandford´s last blog ..If We’re All Connected, Do Social Media Networks Fail for Business? =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 9:54 am

Thanks Jamie. I know it’s tough to put prices out there (and I started not to list them here), but I think companies really need a sense of direction here. And too, I am constantly having companies contact me about launching a comprehensive social media strategy, then they inform me that they have a budget of $1,000 a month to do this.

As Anna and Christina alluded to, so many companies think that social media really is either free, or extremely cheap. Getting more accurate information out there helps everyone, I think.

Justin Parks February 11, 2010 at 9:38 am

Very interesting breakdown on prices Mack, and hat tip to you for the revelation.

“While it’s almost impossible to give any company an accurate quote without talking to them about the above and so much more, I’ll share some ranges with you to give you an idea of what to expect.”

While I agree with the figures you mention in theory and I know the difficulty in making these types of sweeping statements and guesstimates, especially with annoying buggers like me floating about, the thing I would ask is how much time and resource this actually involves or what type of commitment it entails from you and consequently the company using your services.

This cost may be factored into the prices you mention in terms of their required commitment to social media as a route to market or as a form of engagement but I find very few companies, small or large, have that type of financial liberty or willingness to commit hours and resources to the medium at this stage and especially with the bean counters staring over their shoulders and demanding to know what the ROI is on every key stroke made. (Bear in mind I am in Europe and social media is relatively new here compared to the USA).

The reason I ask is that if I took your guide prices at face value then added up the top line figures, your basically saying that to implement a year long (more or less) social media effort would cost:

Top level pricing
blog – 6000 per month
twitter – 5000 per month
facebook – 6000 per month
strategy – 12000 per month
Total – 29000 per month

and at the short term, 3- 6 months, minimum price:
lowest level pricing
blog – 1500 per month
twitter – 1500 per month
facebook – 2000 per month
strategy – 2500 per month
Total – 7500 per month

I’m not trying to pick holes in your guide prices (as I mentioned I understand they are rough guidelines), but am just trying to understand the extent of the service provision you are describing Mack as the prices seem rather high for each individual aspect! (Not that I wouldn’t want to be charging that, and getting it myself, believe me!)

But I wonder if you could clarify a little if I’m accurate here or completely off on a tangent? (I also know I am fudging the numbers a little here as they include things like customer management and content creation in the longer term stuff and that costs for quality but I have to ask!)
.-= Justin Parks´s last blog ..My Social Media Marketing Blank =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 10:12 am

Hey Justin! I see how the pricing as you listed it might be a bit confusing. Maybe I wasn’t clear, but here’s a couple of clarifications:

First, you wouldn’t be charged for Twitter, Facebook PLUS a fee for a Social Media Strategy. The Strategy fee includes getting you on Twitter and Facebook (If we determine that’s where you need to be).

Second, I can usually charge less for a social media strategy that includes getting you on Twitter and launching a blog, than I could for doing both, individually.

For example, let’s say I would charge a company $3,000 a month to execute and maintain a Twitter strategy/presence for them, and I would charge them $4,500 a month to create and execute a blogging strategy for them. But if this company needed BOTH of those services at the same time rolled into a social media strategy, the cost would probably be less, likely more like $6,000-$6,500 a month.

The reason why is that the companies efforts on Twitter can help/improve its blogging efforts, and vice versa. So the actual work becomes easier, and it becomes easier to help each tool reach the goals we have in place for it. So the cost can go down slightly.

Does that help?

Justin Parks February 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

That is perfect Mack and makes a lot more sense.

I thought for a minute I was seriously under charging for the work I do based on the presumed pricing I listed but those clarifications make sense and are in line with what I would address and implement as well.

Thanks for taking the time to reply so concisely and clarify the points raised. You just raised the transparency bar one more notch. Nice one.
.-= Justin Parks´s last blog ..My Social Media Marketing Blank =-.

Steve Hartley February 11, 2010 at 9:55 am

Excellent post, Mack. I’m doubly impressed that you chose to include your pricing.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 10:16 am

Thanks Steve, but what does Waffles think? That’s what counts ;)

David Wang February 11, 2010 at 9:56 am

I’m definitely bookmarking this post, thanks for sharing.

For the blog strategy pricing, can I ask how many posts would be created each month? And what exactly are the deliverables for a social media audit?

Appreciate your answers but understand if you’d prefer to keep it confidential. Thanks
.-= David Wang´s last blog ..Exclusive interview: Idham Nawawi on how P1 engages customers with social media =-.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 10:33 am

Hey David! For the blog strategy pricing and posts, it really depends on the resources of the company, and what their plans are for the blog, long-term.

Ideally, I would like to see a company blog have 2-3 new posts every week. But if the company will only have one person handling the blog, obviously that’s going to be tough/impossible. So for them we might decide to shoot for one post a week OR, given their customer base, experience, and goals, we might decide that a blog isn’t right for them, and maybe they should use another tool.

And this is another point that becomes important when dealing with small businesses, especially. Let’s say that I am dealing with a small business that has two people that can handle social media, but one of them is only part-time. So they don’t have a lot of time they can devote to their strategy.

Let’s say we decide that either Twitter or Facebook (and this is just a ‘for instance’) would work well for their business, but they can only use one tool. If Kathy is going to be the handling the majority of the social media efforts for the business, then her individual experience with each tool comes into play. If we decide that either Twitter or Facebook would probably work equally well for the business (but they can only use one), and Kathy happens to LOVE Twitter (but never uses Facebook), then I’d probably suggest that the business go with Twitter. Simply because Kathy is already familiar with Twitter and loves it. So her efforts in using Twitter to connect with the business’ customers would probably more effective than if she tried to use Facebook.

So you really have to take the company’s resources, POV, goals, etc into consideration and sometimes get creative ;)

As for the social media strategy audit, it looks at your resources, the marketplace, the customers you are trying to reach, your existing social media efforts (if any), and what your direct competitors are doing (if anything), and gives you a report that details all of the above, and a recommended course of action moving forward, with how your company should use social media. This service also includes a 1-hour phone call to make sure you understand exactly what I recommended and found in the report.

BTW if you need more information, feel free to email me at mack.collier@gmail.com

David Wang February 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

Wow, thank you Mack. I really appreciate you answering in such detail. Btw I think I’m going to add a social media strategy audit to my list of services hehe ;)

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 10:41 am

BTW another comment, and I think this is something that larger companies should consider. If you have a company with several different businesses or product lines, be careful in how you get started with social media. Let’s say that a company has 4 product lines that drive the majority of their business. Instead of simultaneously launching a social media strategy for all 4 lines, what I will usually suggest is that they launch a full strategy for just one line at first. That’s because by devoting all of your resources to one line, you can get better results, quicker. And remember this is going to be a learning process for your company. Once you get Product A off the ground, much of what you learned in creating and executing that strategy can be replicated when you move to Product B. That makes that process much smoother, and then you can do the same for your other product lines.

And too, it will likely be cheaper, because your resources won’t be spread out among 4 lines, simultaneously. That means instead of hiring me for 12 months to help you with all 4 lines at once, you can hire me for 4-6 months to get ONE line off the ground, then you can either greatly scale back the help you need from me with the other 3 lines, or even handle that work yourself. Obviously this is a HUGE cost savings.

Kelly Hernandez February 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Great post. I totally agree with your comment on outsourcing passion. When you outsource social media, you really risk losing any kind of authenticity you and your company have created.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Thanks Kelly, and thanks for overcoming your comment shyness ;)

Christina February 11, 2010 at 2:30 pm

I think printing or bringing this blog with its many comments (or any other of Mack’s posts) to a client meeting is also worthwhile. Most anyone can throw some content (even by coping and pasting) onto a blog, but companies need to understand the engagement with readers is what’s truly important and of value. And getting people to comment and engage with a brand isn’t as easy as one may think.

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Thanks Christina, but if you do, make sure you include the comments, as you said. They are often better than the post itself, as we see here ;)

Melinda February 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Mack, thanks for putting the figures out there. I think if a business were to hire a full-time social media manager, they would be paying $5-6K per month (easy). Then tack on employment taxes and benefit costs, it would go well over your monthly fees.
Just wanted to chime in and give a little more perspective.

Tom Martin February 11, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Interesting and gutsy post Mack. Griner is right… not often folks will put a pricing chart out there… let me ask you this though.. in your pricing you don’t differentiate between a successful and not so successful blog/twitter/facebook presence.

Obviously a blog/twitter/fb that gets lots of comments is more time consuming than one that does not.. so how do you account for that? Escalated pricing over time, transfer risk to client by charging a flat fee every month that factors in projected commenting work or do you just renegotiate mid-stream once the comment traffic is established.

This is always the part that seems to get me into trouble — not accounting for the success of what we do. The more successful we are the more work we create.
@TomMartin

Mack Collier February 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Hey Tom, and thanks. As for comments, I factor that into the price. And I work with the companies to handle comments on the blog, Facebook fan page, etc. Even if it’s at the start of a project when the are outsourcing most everything to me. I’ll work with them to craft the responses, and make sure they understand the most appropriate response, so that way the can begin to handle the interactions themselves.

And I hear you about setting prices, it’s tough sometimes to accurately estimate/guesstimate how much time will actually be involved. The big question mark for me is when training/coaching is involved, because some companies take to social media like a fish to water, others need more attention. Which means more time, if I assume they’ll need 10 hours a month of training time and they actually need 20, well that’s money I’ve lost.

But I guess it comes with the territory, and beats punching the clock any day ;)

Eric Fulwiler February 12, 2010 at 9:28 am

Mack,

I really like the step you are taking with this. I think more people need to start putting numbers on these social media strategies and initiatives. And, as Tom said, it’s gutsy because of course there are tons of specific questions that will arise. I’ll lay off the specifics because I think this is a great starting point, but I wanted to ask whether you thought some of these responsibilities, and therefore costs, could be integrated? For example, I maintain many of these responsibilities at Forbes, so they are largely consolidated into one position. (I say largely because the strategy responsibilities are mostly separated from the the day-to-day implementation.) I was just thinking that companies could save costs by outsourcing strategy and/or implementation to one consultant or employee instead of each piece to many.

Thanks!

Eric Fulwiler
Forbes.com

Mack Collier February 12, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hey Eric, yes I do think costs can be lowered via integration. For example, I can almost always charge less for a social media strategy that includes managing a blog and Twitter presence, than I would charge to do those two individually. This is the point I was making with Justin, if you are managing multiple tools at once, the efforts via one channel SHOULD enhance your ability to use the other tools, to a certain degree. Which means less work, and less costs.

Thanks for the comment!

ethnicomm February 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

Thanks for putting this out. It validates what I’ve been proposing/suggesting to clients.
IMHO, it starts with asking the client a lot of questions, understanding the industry/niche that they operate in, their objectives, developing a strategy and only THEN determining which specific tactics (blog/twitter/FB/other) will fulfill their objectives.
Social media is not a gimmick or panacea for their marketing woes. It is a marketing tool.

Craig Sutton February 21, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Mack,

I like that you are posting prices! Also agree with some points that pricing really depends on the size and goals of the plan, but setting some expectations at least lets the customer know up front that you are not devaluing your service.

I also sit down with customers and preach an approach of relevancy and choosing there one thing to start. I use the approach I learned from Jay Baer of assessing the campaign type first, creating a plan and then execution and will not take a customer who isn’t focused on participation and goals.

Social Media trainers and planners need the minds of the company leaders in order to be successful.

Adam Cohen February 26, 2010 at 9:25 am

Mack,
Kudos for bringing up the topic. Two thoughts:
1) This helps clarify that social media isn’t free – whether it’s internal resources executing or some combination of consultant/outsourcing, there is a cost.
2) Two major other costs associated with social media have to do with working with larger corporations who have gaps in understanding their customers. Along with determining objectives for leveraging social media, it’s important to understand your customers – how confident are companies in their CRM databases and in understanding the needs, attitudes and behaviors of their customers? There are times when it may make sense to invest more in market research to understand these things as they will be a significant input into a social media strategy. At the biggest end of the scale, more traditional segmentation can be extended to understand how customers use social media before tactics can be recommended that resonate with them. Finding the right people (internally or externally) who can synthesize that data to make informed decisions about a social media strategy can be difficult.

Thanks for (once again) pushing the envelope by throwing this topic out there.
.-= Adam Cohen´s last blog ..Donation Connect: Text Some Good =-.

Brian Pastore February 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

Thanks for the great information Mack. I model my business in the same fashion. Coming from the other side of the business I always found it very frustrating when people would quote a price without first understanding what my companies goals are. I try to make sure that it is very clear to potential clients that I have to learn what their goals are before I can suggest what they should be doing in the future and if I can help them or not…

mousewords March 3, 2010 at 3:08 pm

“Passion can’t be outsourced” – awesome!! :-)
.-= mousewords´s last blog ..The Cup of Kindness – Part Two =-.

Hetal Shah March 4, 2010 at 7:45 am

Hey Mack,

I actually stumbled upon your post reading through Justin’s post here: http://www.justinkownacki.com/2010/03/04/how-chris-brogans-day-rate-can-help-you-get-paid/

This is some fantastic insight into what industry rates are, and what kind of “sky” you should aim for, depending on which section of the curve you are on.

I’m currently talking to a client who wants a full social media and SEO strategy, with implementation – what’s their budget? $5k per month….. for everything! Now looking at your prices, that certainly puts things into perspective!

It’s a shame that clients don’t yet realise the value specialists bring to the table – perhaps rightly so in some cases where they’ve burnt their fingers in the past.

Whilst I’m no Chris Brogan or Avinash Kaushik, I know I still offer a lot of value and insight to clients. But I think more important than the company finding the right consultant, its imperative that the consultant find the right company who understands this intangible value.

This post is a definite bookmark for me! Kudos!

Varadharajan Krishnamoorthy March 5, 2010 at 1:21 am

Mack, this is a great post. I understand these are indicative but not a price list. Again the tools that you had mentioned also are indicative and not limited to…kind of list. A comprehensive strategy consultancy could allow you to accommodate large variations. True. Very True. It shows that you have good clarity when you can say a number with related stuff. As you rightly said that client sincerity in learning and doing it will make anything possible with consultants sincerity and becoming accommodative. After all when you consult what you look forward to is that your services stand the client in good stead and the joy of client benefiting from it has no equivalent. you had rightly said about passion too. Customers should show their passion for biz and customers and consultants can help them passionately to use tools to achieve their passionate goals.

paisano May 6, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Thanks for sharing such a useful post… All valid and helpful advice.
Also props for sharing prices…
I had a question… when you say monthly… what does that mean exactly?
How many hours does this month require? Just curious…

thanks

Pai
.-= paisano´s last blog ..Sons of Sylvia =-.

Sue Anne Reed May 19, 2010 at 12:49 am

Mack – This is really great. For some reason, I had missed it the first go round. Thanks for putting this together. :)
.-= Sue Anne Reed´s last blog ..Burn the Ships, Touch the Burner, and Behave Like a Baby =-.

Allen Mireles May 21, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Mack,

I’m with Sue Anne. Somehow I missed this post the first go round also. But, I have been reading and enjoying a discussion on the LinkedIn Social Media Today (I think) group about rates and pricing and this post was mentioned.

Brave of you to be so candid and oh so helpful for the rest of us. I often get so busy I trip over myself just trying to keep up and don’t take part in value-added activities like #BlogChat (as evidenced by the sorry state of my blog) …but each time I rediscover your words I learn–and I enjoy the learning. Kudos.

Justice Marshall May 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Mack – Thanks for your leadership with this post. Not only does it give client companies a valuable framework for budgeting, it also encourages your colleagues to speak with more clarity and candor about the real value and costs of what we do for clients.

Many businesses in my industry (natural health and wellness) are still under the misconceptions that social media is…

1. The latest “program” that simply needs to be installed by IT consultants.
or
2. A cheap alternative to traditional advertising.
or
3. Without business merit.

One of the effects of your pricing breakdown is (I hope) to wake business managers up to the bigger picture, and to encourage wise and thoughtful entry.

The truth is, it takes resources to do social media well. And it’s not a good fit for all businesses all the time. Part of my commitment to myself and to potential clients is to honestly name when I don’t think social media is the current best choice for the company. Or to scale them back when necessary.

There’s ongoing education to do, and I’m happy to be on both sides of the equation.
.-= Justice Marshall´s last blog ..Tuesday Tweaks: How to keep your facebook fans happy even when they’re not =-.

Bukie Opanuga August 17, 2010 at 9:48 am

This is an awesome list!
One of my biggest challenges is helping business owners see that social media is more than just a bunch of status updates and tweets… and there has to be a well thought out strategy with an end goal in mind. This post puts things in perspective.

Nicholas Vaidyanathan October 14, 2010 at 9:01 pm

It is refreshing to see someone act so honorably and transparently in a business where it’s easy to use black hat approaches and outsource blog posts to Thai people for 25 cents a post on a product they have no experience with. Your initial pricing estimates and overall mentality suggest that your value add really is helping a business to grow, as opposed to maximizing your individual profit. An attitude that should be shared in other arenas. Kudos.

Willy Castillo October 15, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Hello Mack,

I found your article very interesting and it got me thinking about how much I would charge in the future. Right now, I’m currently trying to create a portfolio by offering free advice to small businesses, companies and NGOs here in Nicaragua about social media. I have sent emails or comments to these people after analyzing their Facebook fan pages, blogs, etc.. They never answer back, it is like they have a presence in the social media world. Do you have any piece of advice for newbies like me who are very interested in helping other to fully potential their presence in the web using some of the tools available? Thank you very much. Greeting from Nicaragua, Central America.

kabin December 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

s with this question, but do you have any suggestions for those of us who are already in business

Media Planning December 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Yes, prices can be high. But when you factor in negative word of mouth can cut your business by 25% it’s definitely worth it.

Vitaly Tennant December 31, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Very helpful article. Thanks for sharing the info.

bodybuilding natural,bodybuilding workout January 11, 2011 at 4:19 am

thanks for sharing the information.nice post

A Maui Blog January 19, 2011 at 2:38 am

Helpful post. Very helpful. Thank you. (i needed this guideline :)

Ross Walker April 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

Mark,

I just found this post via google search. Thank you for being exactly what I was looking for. I am now following and learning a ton from your blog.

Ross

Gary in Asheville June 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Hi, Mack. Thanks for the info. I’m always harping on how we don’t share actual pricing, so this helps. But I’m confused. When you state, “Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource all content creation at first, eventually take over and “Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource some content creation till you can handle all” who is you…You? Or the client…and “outsource all content” means what? How do you launch a blog from the ground up if you don’t provide content? I’m asking because I get people asking me to launch the blog, provide the content and handling it…usually with budgets of $500 a month.

MackCollier June 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm

@Gary in Asheville You = The client. Outsourcing all content means the client outsources content creation to a consultant or agency.

Gary in Asheville June 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

So, really confused now. I’m setting up a blog. I’m writing on the blog. I’m corresponding on the blog. So, the “outsourcing” is the writing , corresponding in addition to setting it up? Great gig. I can’t imagine anyone not assuming that “setting up the blog” means “following, maintaining, writing, answering”….so what does that run? $500/month? $1000? $2K? I need your input because I have a meeting tomorrow with a client that may have $15K for logo, pr, traditional media, media coordination, feature and article writing and general consultation, and I need to tell them that the’ll need an additional $30,000-$50,000 for me to create the blog and hire someone to use it. Right? Just want the make sure I understand the numbers.

dBaseMedia July 21, 2011 at 10:06 am

Good info but you’re missing one of the most important aspects of a comprehensive social media effort which is engaging the communities from using comprehensive monitoring & reporting. Engagement is probably the most important practice that a lot of people never think about. Anyone can blog or post tweets but to follow best practices, you must learn what’s being said about your business, brand, products, services etc. You need robust reporting tools to monitor the several hundred million blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook pages, forums, news outlets, video & photo sites. One can spend a little or a lot of time each day with social media with a return equal to the effort put forth. @dBaseMedia charges by the hour so we can tailor our effort to our client’s budget. A couple of other things to incorporate: growing your social media communities, SEO strategies, specific audience targeting, getting others to share your content, site traffic driving techniques, content tagging etc. This is where an agency or consultant can be most beneficial.

Rick Holden November 19, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Those figures is what I need. I will share your post to my friends who is setting up a site for her business. This post is a big help for her to budget her finances. Thanks for sharing!

Dania Toscano Miwa January 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Mack,
This is a great article. I will be referencing it often. I work mostly with Nonprofit Clients, so it will be interesting to see how the price structure varies, especially since many of my clients devote little or no resources and money towards social media…yet. I’m seeing that change a bit, and I’m hoping the trend continues.

HelioB April 7, 2012 at 10:05 am

This post is so very refreshing. I’m so tired of clients asking for me to create an entire social media strategy up front for free just to land the job, then pick someone else while keeping and likely implementing my strategy. I recently also had a client ask me to work the first week for free because they wanted to see results first. Also, I am consistently faced with people and companies that have no awareness, no product, nothing…yet they expect to be famous overnight or expect their newly launched wood cutting company from Podunk Arkansas to have 10,000 legitimate FB likes in one week.

Oh, and lets not forget they always want me to creat and implement and monitor and single-handedly maintain a Twitter, FB, YouTube, LinkedIn, blog, SEO, etc and devote all day to their non-stop communications…all for $500 a month. I think a huge problem are the types of social media “professionals” who quote and take these low ball amounts. They ruin it for the rest of us who actually know what we’re doing and should be paid properly. Everytime I give a LOW BALL quote, I see clients flip and call something like $1,500-$2,000 a month “waaaay out of our budget”. They instead want to pay someone $10/hr for only 5 hours a week, what they don’t understand is it takes so much longer and is worth so much more when done properly and with experienced, intelligent strategy. The problem is many people accept these low rates because they’re looking for easy money and will just post a few straight forward, bland posts and call it a week. They’ll sign up a dozen clueless clients at this rate and do little work or buy fake follows or do the age old follow/follow back routine to artificially inflate numbers and that’s it, they collect a handful of dirt cheap rates and are set.

They ruin it for those of us who have fully developed strategies and a willingness to devote the proper time and CREATIVITY to the job.

One thing I want to recommend is that one should always make what a rate covers clear. I once landed a client for a low ball $1,400/mo to run all social networks and do a once a week simple video editing job. We sign the deal and then they star asking for in depth graphic and flyer creation…three times in the first week. Plus they sent me 25+ emails a day and asked me to star helping them land advertisers and sponsors and PR. I informed them my rates werent covered under this, but then they threatened to find someone else (i.e. someone who quoted them “$500 for everything”). At that time I was in a family-related financial bind so I bent over and took it so I could maintain the job. Taught me to always make a clear cut list what my rate covers and for how long and how much.

Lisa April 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

Hi Mack,

I love this breakdown. I’m in business for myself and am thinking about starting a youtube channel. I’d be interested in someone doing it for me, but don’t know what the typical price variance would be for something like that. I’m not looking for a brand channel, but something customized with videos to be upload for me, so I don’t have to mess with it. Could you give me an “idea” or range that a good Social media person would cost?

Janelle McLeod August 31, 2012 at 8:31 pm

WOW! You’re so right on point with these facts…

I honestly built my own empire online. I’ve done so well over the years, that people CONSTANTLY inbox me, email me, or sends me a text message ALWAYS asking me “how do you do this?” or “how do you do that?” I get marketing questions over questions to the point where I decided to start my own business / brand as a Social Media Manager because people are really watching me in my area of expertise and appreciate they way I work my flow on line…

I’ve built a huge “online” boutique store in just ONE year and grew my twitter followers to 600, facebook fan page to 10,000 fans, and pinterest to a little under 1,000 followers and honestly I really enjoy what I am doing online. So I put my boutique store aside and start to help brand others online and build their presence etc… I do list price but I also let it be disclosed that prices are not guaranteed until a FREE consultation is conducted in order to know what all my (pontential) client needs are.

So far I have 5 clients and things are working out really great!!!

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