How much would you pay for a social media service for your small business?

Social Media Landscape
Social Media Landscape (Photo credit: fredcavazza)

Did you see that story the other day on how a social media company contracted a coastal city for 10 days and sent them a bill of R500,000?

The municipality gave out half a million Rand on a contract to promote the coastal city on social media. The reported contract involved paying R50,000 a day to:

  • provide two Facebook status updates a week
  • upload three pictures to Facebook a week
  • send a bulk tweet
  • upload Youtube videos
  • upload 20 images to instagram
  • advertise on its website

A Sunday newspaper reported that the city’s communications department has an operating budget of R48 million a year, a specialist web team and close to 50 employees in the communications team.

Please don’t get put off by these costs of social media tasks that were so well sold to a city that seems to be rolling in ratepayers’ money. What the media consultancy allegedly earns R6,250 an hour would be triple the amount that a small business owner would spend in an entire year on social media.

How much does it really cost to run social media campaigns?

This would very much depend on your business objective, what you are trying to achieve and the type of graphics or photography that you would need to showcase on your social media sites. But most small businesses could open a Twitter account, Facebook account or a LinkedIn account for free. The “cost” would be the cost of your time preparing messages for your social media sites and photography, illustrations and other visuals.

In communications, like any other professional business, you get what you pay for. Yes, you can do it yourself but if you’ve had very little or no experience in crafting messages that will create buzz or attract potential customers to your business, then you really aren’t going to be effective (unless, of course, you are extremely lucky). You can use cellphone photographs of yourself, your business premises, your interiors and products at very low cost but are they really going to project the image you want?

I don’t know if you’ve commissioned photography work recently but you’d be surprised how much professional photography costs. Often, when you commission a photographer you might pay anything from R3,500 to R5,000 for a professional photography shoot and only be able to use a few of the images. Not every image that the photographer takes is going to be just the right image that can sell your business or products and services.

One business owner I know does all his own Twitter messages and Facebook social media but he’s the exception because he stays up-to-date with trends and his customers’ tastes and preferences and has an uncanny knack of promoting his business well.

Trawl around the Internet quickly and see how many small businesses had good intentions about running Twitter and Facebook accounts but their messaging has dried up. You’ve got to strike a balance here. If social media could be helpful to build relationships with your potential customers, then it’s worth spending some money on a social media service. But if you are going to do it on a shoestring and expect it to happen for “free”, then don’t be surprised if it really makes no impact on your business.

No small business needs to spend the amounts that the coastal city reportedly spent on social media but you can’t really get away with spending absolutely nothing. Remember too that while social media may be able to get attention for your business and products and services, it’s not going to make the sale for you. That needs to be done with professionally crafted sales letters, emails, squeeze pages and face-to-face selling.

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