Demystifying social media management prices: what you should know

How can you effectively consider the cost of social media management prices when comparing agency services? Or how do you know how to price social media management if you are an agency?

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In this guide, we’ll demystify the costs and pricing for social media management to help with those questions.

What’s the average range of social media management prices?

Social media management prices vary widely depending on the services you’re getting and the experience and resources of the agency you choose to work with. One review noted that the average spending for social media management from small and midsize businesses ranged from $25 per month to $5,000 plus per month (Expert Market).

That’s a deceptive range, though. The bottom figure—$25 per month—is the cost of a basic social media planning tool. If a business is using the tool itself, it doesn’t factor in the cost of the time and resources required to create content, schedule it, and manage comments and messages. Often, the cost of running social media accounts in house is higher than businesses think.

What’s usually included in the costs of social media management services?

To understand the cost of social media management, it’s critical to understand what’s included in various packages. For example, a package that includes full white-label social media management is likely to cost more than a package that includes only content creation. Always consider the value of the services to your businesses in relation to the price—not necessarily the price in relation to other dissimilar packages.

1. Content creation and curation

When you pay for content for social media, you typically get more than a list of social media ideas for businesses. The price may cover everything from curation of industry content your audience might be interested in to the development of original text, image, and video content.

Obviously, the more content an agency creates, the more time it must spend on your social media work. That leads to increased costs. When considering the price of social media services, ensure you understand:

  • The scale of strategy work. You can’t just slap memes up on social media and expect success. Social media marketing strategy may involve competitor and target audience analysis and other important efforts.
  • The type and frequency of post creation. Pricing can depend on how often posts are created and scheduled as well as how many social media platforms an agency agrees to manage. The more content you require a month, the higher the price point may be.
  • Curation and research requirements. More complex requirements may lead to increased costs. For example, if a healthcare business only wants content curated from certain journals and .gov sources, that can make content curation more difficult than it would be for a retail organization that allows content from a variety of news sources, fashion zines, and blogs.

2. Social media platform management

Whether you’re looking for an agency that specializes in social media for reputation management or you want a comprehensive solution for social media management, you should expect services to encompass more than creating and scheduling posts. Agencies can provide holistic solutions that include:

  • Setting up and optimizing social media profiles. Social media marketing experts can help you launch a new social media presence quickly and effectively. That’s true whether you have a new small business or you want to expand the reach of your existing business to a new platform like TikTok.
  • Monitoring and responding to comments and messages. More than three quarters of consumers expect that brands will respond within 24 hours to social media comments and messages, and around 13 percent expect a response within an hour (Sprout Social). Experienced agencies have the teams and tools to help you keep up with those demands.
  • Implementing community management strategies. From brand guides to ensure messaging is consistent across all platforms to public relations tools to manage brand reputation on social media, an agency can help you get the most out of the community you’re building.

3. Analytics and reporting

Best practices and guidelines for social media management typically put an emphasis on metrics. Understanding how various social media efforts drive results for business goals such as conversions and sales is critical to tweaking strategies for better performance. Social media management prices often take analytic and reporting efforts into account.

Reporting efforts typically included in social media package pricing include:

  • Tracking key performance metrics. Agencies should track the results of the work they do, including key performance indicators (KPIs) such as follows, likes, comments, messages, shares, saves, click-throughs, and conversions.
  • Analyzing social media data. Taking time to dig into KPIs and understand what the data means for the success of the social media campaign allows agencies to continuously improve strategies. This improvement can drive increasing performance, including better conversions and sales, for clients.
  • Generating regular reports for clients. Of course, as a client, you likely want to see the proof in the pudding. In this case, it’s not a whipped chocolate or vanilla dessert the agency serves up. Instead, it provides easy-to-understand reports and visual dashboards that help you know what return you’re getting from your social media investment.

This isn’t something that’s offered by every social media agency—or even something every client wants. However, with average organic reach on social platforms approaching zero, an agency that can manage ads and sponsored posts effectively can substantially increase the reach and performance of social media campaigns.

If you work with an agency that offers ad campaign management, pricing probably includes:

  • Planning and executing targeted ad campaigns. Teams research target audiences, create ad campaigns designed to connect with those audiences, and launch campaigns on the right social media platforms.
  • Optimizing ad performance and budget management. Agency teams work within client budgets to get the most return for any size investment. You don’t need thousands of dollars to advertise successfully on social media. You can often start with a small ad budget and work up as you scale.
  • Monitoring and adjusting campaign settings as needed. Your agency will monitor the efficacy of ads continuously and make real-time adjustments to settings to improve performance when needed.

How much should you charge clients for your social media management services?

If you’re an agency selling social media packages, a one-size-fits-all answer—or even a simple sizing chart style answer—doesn’t exist. Instead, you must consider a variety of factors when setting prices for your services.

Factors to consider in pricing

The amount of work required and the methods by which your team will complete the work are important considerations in how much to charge for managing social media. Factors to consider include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Complexity and scope of services. The number of platforms you manage, how often you post, and the types of posts your team is responsible for should all impact pricing. Curating industry posts several times a week takes less creative talent and time than coming up with new thought-leadership and image posts, for example. Also consider service level agreements related to how regularly you’ll manage comments and timeframes for responding to messages.
  • Experience and expertise of the agency. An agency with a decade of experience and a proven track record of winning social media campaigns can usually charge more for its services than the new kid on the social media management block.
  • Industry and target audience. Some audiences and industries are more challenging to work with. Consider the potential demands of the audience as well as requirements in the industry when pricing services. For example, B2B content in a technical space might require subject-matter experts and more research than B2C content for a clothing company.
  • Tools and resources. List all the tools you plan to use or provide to the client, including any social media management tool. Ensure your pricing strategy takes those expenses into account.

Pricing models

You must consider more than how much to charge for social media management. Think about how you will charge. Some common options, along with potential pros and cons, are summarized below.

Hourly pricing

Charge for every hour your team spends on a client’s social media management. For example, if you charge $100 an hour and the team spends 10 hours one month and 15 hours the next month on the work, the bills would be $1,000 and $1,500 respectively.

Hourly pricing is fairly transparent for the client. They pay for the work your team actually puts in and nothing more. For the agency, hourly pricing ensures that you charge for all the time your team puts in. The downside to hourly pricing is that you must keep excellent time records to back up your invoices.

Monthly retainers

This option goes well with social media package pricing. For example, you might charge a set amount for managing two social media platforms, including three posts per week, monitoring and responding to comments within 24 hours, and providing reports to the client. With a monthly retainer option, the client pays upfront for the social media package each month.

Monthly retainers are probably the easiest way to manage pricing. You spell out what’s offered and the client chooses what works for them. The downside is that you get paid the same amount whether the outcome is merely satisfactory or exceeds expectations with viral success.

Performance-based pricing

With performance-based pricing, the total your client pays depends on the success of the campaign. You might base pricing on engagement or conversions. For example, you could set a base rate plus a commission on every click-through or sale tied to social media efforts.

While performance-based pricing ensures agencies get paid more for successful campaigns, reporting requirements can be complex. It takes consistency, dedication, and technology on the part of the agency and the client to properly track such efforts.

Determining pricing structure

Once you know the scope of work you plan to provide and have an idea of how you want to set up pricing, the last step is doing a bit of research. Start by:

  • Conducting a cost analysis. Take time to list all the tools, labor resources, and other costs associated with social media management efforts. Always ensure your pricing covers those costs and allows for a profit.
  • Benchmarking against industry standards. You don’t have to charge exactly what your competitors charge. However, if you’re too far off of industry standards without providing substantially more value, clients are unlikely to choose your agency.
  • Considering your value proposition. Talk with your team and others realistically about your agency’s unique value proposition. Consider doing marketing research via surveys or interviews to find out if customers would be willing to pay more for that value.

Tips for adding value to your social media management services

Increasing prices is one way to help scale your agency. To do so successfully, you must add value that clients are willing to pay for. This section highlights a few ways you can do that.

Develop a customized strategy

Some social media management prices reflect inside-the-box thinking, and that’s okay. But you may be able to charge more if you offer tailored services and strategies to clients by thinking outside the box.

Take time to understand the client’s business operations and goals and create social media plans that speak to those objectives. Find ways to tailor your approach to unique client brands and audiences. Highlight the personalized approach you take—for example, each client may have a single point of contact at your agency that they can reach out to with any problems or questions.

Constant communication and collaboration

Truly partner with your clients, providing regular connection points and communication. Ask for feedback on phone calls, in email, and via more formal client surveys, and put that feedback to work by addressing concerns and issues. Work together with clients to come up with collaborative content and campaign ideas.

Instead of acting like the cleaning contractor who sweeps in, does the work in the evening and night where no one sees it, and leaves the building pristine, act more like a holistic healthcare provider. Take time to know your clients, educate them about social media, and work proactively with them to reduce negative symptoms and boost positive ones for social media performance.

Staying updated with trends and technologies

Clients expect the agencies they work with to be experts in the field, which requires keeping up with the evolving social media landscape. Here are just a few things your agency team should stay on top of:

  • New platforms. You may not manage social media on every platform available, but you do need to know about them. Read up on social media news so you can answer basic questions about any existing and new platforms for clients.
  • Features and tools. If you do manage content on a platform, ensure you know it inside and out. Have at least one person on your team who is the guru on everything a client might need related to that platform.
  • Social media trends. Keep up with trends like the use of new features, hashtags, and even memes related to your clients and their industries. This helps ensure your clients are ahead of the competition and also reduces the chance that you’ll blunder into a social media faux pas.

Providing comprehensive reporting and analytics

Share detailed insights and metrics with your clients in a way that works for them. Offer visual dashboards or weekly or monthly reports alongside actionable recommendations that help your clients make proactive decisions for improving their social media presence.

Always use metrics and reporting to demonstrate the value of your services and the client’s return on investment. This helps support future buy-in from your clients.

Frequently asked questions

Are there any hidden costs associated with social media management services?

If you work with a reputable social media management service with transparent pricing, you typically won’t encounter surprise hidden costs that can mess up your budget. However, there are common costs embedded in social media management services that you might not realize are included. For example, if your social media management agency requires software and reporting tools to do its job, it typically passes the expense of those tools along in its pricing structure.

How do I compare different social media management pricing packages?

Ensure you’re conducting an apples-to-apples comparison. Do a side-by-side look at what each social media package for a small business includes so you can see the value you are getting for your money. Consider what is or is not included in each package and whether those things add enough value (or remove enough value) that the price differences in various packages make sense for your company.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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