Vesta Digital Blog

How Your Business Can Budget for Social Media

Posted on: March 23, 2010

Business Budget For many businesses, the question about social media is no longer “if” but “how.” Many companies have already begun budgeting for social media marketing positions. In September 2009, Monster.com listed more than 500 jobs with “social media” in the title. It is time to spend money for social media whether you like it or not. Paul Gillin explains how you can budget for it:

Friend or Foe

Media companies struggle with social media because the trend is both friend and foe. The urge to look at new tools and practices with suspicion may prompt some businesses to sweep social media into a corner and brand it as a specialty discipline. Staff members may grumble about having to add blogs to their already busy schedules, but this is a mistake.

Social media requires media organizations to fundamentally rethink the way they work. Every single person in the company must understand and embrace the value of this or risk becoming irrelevant. This is not just an organizational initiative, it is a survival tactic. Staff members who refuse to learn the tools of new media will probably be unemployable in a few years.

Social media budgeting separately is a tricky process. While there are costs associated with the adoption of new technologies and tactics, they should be folded into the way you do business. The best way to minimize cost and disruption is to spread responsibility among existing staff, designate centers of expertise and adopt popular, off-the-shelf tools that have big and competitive markets around them.

Delegate and Train

It shouldn’t cost you much time or money to add this to your existing budget. This includes giving readers, viewers or listeners the chance to respond to information you’ve already published as well as promoting your product through channels like Facebook and Twitter. Your staff should not only be expected to perform these tasks, they should want to perform them. Applying new tools to their work is part of preparing themselves for the future.

Assign one person to become your expert on social networking tools, another to master podcasting and a third to understand the nuances of Facebook. These people then become experts in your internal network. They not only serve as resources to the staff but evangelize the use of these tools while raising their personal visibility in the company.

Tech Investment

If your website needs significant technical overhaul in order to support social media technologies, plan accordingly. Content management systems like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal cost nothing to license but may cost a lot in implementation. Fortunately, the community of systems integrators who specialize in these platforms is growing, which means prices are coming down. When negotiating contracts, look for satisfaction guarantees and a minimum of escalator charges. Get first-year support built into the contract. If you avoid extensive customization, you will lower your maintenance costs. Whether you choose to manage your web servers internally or outsource the whole deal, make sure you have the wherewithal to be up and running quickly after a major outage. Media sites cannot afford downtime.

For media organizations that produce a significant amount of audio and video content, plan on budgeting between one half-time and one full-time position to reformat and post this content on your website. You should not need to hire senior people to do this; most college students can perform this work with little difficulty. The costs should be easily covered by incremental advertising revenue gains from Web distribution of your content. If your audience lends itself to an online community, consider using software.

Should you have a social media line item in your budget? For now, it’s probably not a bad idea, if only to create an ROI model. But over time, social media should be so embedded in all communication with your audience that it should be invisible from both an organizational and a budget perspective. After all, customer conversations are no longer a matter of choice.

You can read more of Paul Gillin’s work by visiting this website.

If you are looking for a social media software to make your marketing simpler and more affordable, you can review information about Vesta Digital’s IntelBuilder Social Media Platform.

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1 Response to "How Your Business Can Budget for Social Media"

Great article, I particularly like your quote defining the use of social media as ‘not just an organizational initiative, it is a survival tactic.’ It’s true that the prevalence of social media as a marketing platform has increased dramatically, and many companies now have a dedicated social media budget. High-profile marketing campaigns on Facebook are run by brands such as Cadbury’s, Domino’s Pizza, Kellogg’s and Red Bull.

In a survey of 199 respondents 55% of firms use this social networking site to improve brand awareness and reputation. Just under half are using Facebook as a marketing channel (47%.)

For more statistics, and to view a report on the value of social media for all businesses, from SME’s to multinational’s head over to: http://ecly.co/dwqNdN

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