The Hidden Costs of Social Media Marketing

We’re all guilty of it. You see someone scrolling away on their phone and assume that they’re just wasting a little time—as in not working. Unfortunately, that same hasty assumption is alive and well in the workforce. Just ask anyone working in social media! Then, ask them about all the hidden costs and invisible work that goes into executing a social media marketing strategy. As you’ll quickly discover, social media platforms may indeed be free, but the cost of doing business there is not. Here are seven hidden costs to budget for—and invest in.

  1. Relationship building. Social media is a relationship. And relationships are built on trust that you earn over time—not in a single post. You build trust slowly and by sharing in an authentic way that makes the thing you do, sell, or champion relevant to the lives of others. Like all relationships, the one with your social media audience will have its highs and lows. But with patience and dedication to creating compelling content, the time and money you invest will be returned in brand loyalty and metrics.
  2. Big-picture planning. A great idea is a brilliant start, but it’s not a plan. That’s why investing in someone with the expertise to strategize, set goals, and chart your course BEFORE you start posting is essential. The key to big-picture planning, however, is to remember that it’s a tortoise not a hare. Long-term strategies don’t yield results overnight—even if viral posts make it seem otherwise. Remember, as tempted as you are to “just see how it goes,” it’s always less expensive to plan than it is to repair.
  3. External support and expertise. It’s easy to underestimate the skillset that goes into creating compelling content. But great content creators don’t just “know their way around social media, they are the Swiss Army Knives of marketing. They are researchers, copywriters, video editors, marketing analysts, designers, managers, consultants, and the lifeline you reach for when someone less experienced has gone off course. When you budget to bring them on, remember that you get what you pay for.
  4. Paid advertising. You might think that buying ads on social media is a waste of money when you’re already creating great content. But stopping advertising to save money is a lot like stopping a clock to save time. Simply put? You have to spend money to make money. Ads help you do that by helping you reach target markets, increase brand awareness, and convert sales.
  5. Management. Time management, project management, production management, crisis management—more management than you could imagine! Social media can be an unforgiving place, so making sure that a designated someone is thoughtfully holding the reins (and others to account). It’s a big job—even if that someone makes it look effortless.
  6. Creativity. Creative work is work (and hard work at that!), so budget time for the creative process. Good ideas aren’t just born—they’re laboured over, refined, and perfected so they can be successfully repeated with efficiency.
  7. The cost of not participating. Conversations about you and your brand are happening whether you’re participating in them or not. Choosing not to is a lost opportunity to take control of your narrative and steer it in a direction that helps you build strong relationships and brand advocates.