HOW MUCH TO CHARGE FOR SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT
It’s practically impossible for a business to operate in today’s market without a social media presence. Despite this fact, many business owners and marketing teams are missing the experience or resources to internally manage their social media presence in a strategic way. More and more businesses are opting to outsource their social media management to freelancers, consultants, or agencies.
This shift in business correlates to the growth of the overall “gig economy.” According to a new report from Deloitte, self-employment in the U.S. is expected to triple to 42 million people. As businesses shift away from traditional employees and budgets for social media marketing increase, there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to market their social media, design, copywriting and strategy skills into a job or business.
One of the most important questions that a freelancer or consultant will ask themselves is: how much should I charge for social media management? And just like most important questions in business, there is no clear cut right or wrong answer. In fact, the rates that social media managers charge vary widely based on a number of factors. These factors include the scope of work, experience level, business type, industry, and location. Additionally, freelance consultants who work in social media management must also pay attention to their competition, the market value for their work, the effort required to complete a project, and the type of results the client can expect.
How much support your social media management client needs is an important factor in determining how much to charge them for your services. Some clients require limited support, while others need 24/7 community management and creative planning not to mention execution of posts. Before sending a proposal, be sure you are clear on what your prospective clients’ social media goals are, and what they want to see on their social media channels. Below are a few key services and variables to consider that can help establish the scope of work.
Prospective social media clients will want to know what relevant work experience you have, what results you have achieved for past clients, and what specialties you can bring to their business, such as content creation, social media strategy, account growth, social platform advertising, etc.). Your ability to communicate the value that your experience carries to your clients will often mean the difference between winning and losing a new account, so take the time to explain and market your abilities.
While years on the job isn’t the only way of determining experience, it can be helpful to compare your length of work experience to others. As social media managers gain more experience, they are able to charge their clients significantly higher fees.
According to the freelancer platform Upwork, the following are rates that other freelancers are charging clients for social media content management:
Entry Level (social media posting, virtual assistant duties): $15-$50/hr
Intermediate (social media posting, content creation, and community management): $50-$100/hr
Advanced (brand and social media strategy, consulting): $120-$250/hr
Even though social media consultants and freelancers don’t earn salaries, it can also be helpful to use the salary data as a starting point when evaluating your fee schedule. According to LinkedIn, the median salary for a social media manager in the United States with 1-5 years of experience is $41,900. For that same role with 6-14 years of experience, the median salary jumps to $80,000!
Need to know:
Business Size: The bigger the business, the more they are able to spend on marketing. However, most businesses will only allocate a certain percentage of their revenue towards their marketing budget. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7-8% of gross revenue on marketing and advertising for businesses making less than $5 million in annual revenue. Keep this in mind.
Industry: Factors like competition, pricing, and growth plans all vary by industry. For example, the restaurant industry is notoriously competitive, but profit margins are slim. The recipe leaves less budget for marketing expenses. Price yourself accordingly.
Number of platforms: How many social media platforms will the client want you to manage? Is it just their Instagram account, or do they have Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Yelp, and YouTube? Obviously, the more social platforms a client has the more you’ll want to charge to manage their social channels. Also, take into consideration whether or not the platforms have already been started or whether you’ll need to create and grow a new social platform from scratch. Creating a brand new social media account with no followers can be significantly more time consuming than taking over an account that is already established
Paid vs. Organic: Paid social is becoming a bigger part of overall marketing budgets. Make sure that you are clear on where your duties will begin and end when it comes to advertising on social media, as social media advertising requires a unique skillset, and if you’re not well-versed in optimizing paid social media campaigns, this may be something you’ll need to hire an advertising specialist.
If you're looking for a quick way to increase brand awareness or generate leads, paid ads may be the way to go. However, if you're interested in sustainable, long-term growth, organic ads are probably a better option.
Content creation: Many social media managers and consultants also offer services like blogging, copywriting, or graphic design. If you’re expected to create the blog posts, the charts and graphics, or the memes, and tweet and post them, you’ll want to charge more. Alternatively, you may be required to do the research to find good content for the brand’s platforms, and social media content strategy adds considerable time to your job. Some companies may already have all of their content created by employees or other freelancers and ready to go – but find out first, estimate your required time accordingly, and outline your content creation and content strategy deliverables clearly when pricing your agreement.
Customer Service: Will you be in charge of responding to customer complaints and following up with them, or will you simply direct them to an employee at the company? Fielding customer complaints and inquiries can be quite time-consuming, and time-sensitive, especially as a business grows, so you’ll want to charge a significantly larger fee if you will be doing that kind of work and making that kind of commitment.
Influencer Marketing: Another factor that may go into determining your rates for social media management is whether you’ll be reaching out to influencers who can advertise the business’s name, product, or service. It takes time to research, contact, and engage people who may be able to help the business grow their following, and any influencer marketing services you offer should be considered as a stand-alone service.
Options for charging a social media client:
Some social media managers charge by the project, while some set an estimate for a predefined statement of work and charge hourly, weekly, or monthly. This decision all depends on how you want to structure your freelancing or consulting business.
Hourly Rate: Since most of the economy is based on hourly wages, it’s no surprise that this is a common way for social media freelancers and consultants to set their fee schedule. The hourly rate is simple and convenient, however, it doesn’t lend itself well to building a team and scaling your operations – and by charging hourly, you might run into tough situations when the scope of work changes. Be sure to set an overall estimate if you decide to charge hourly, and define parameters for how you will track your time and address scope changes and communicate with the client if you think you’ll go over your hourly estimate for a project
Monthly (Fixed-Fee): Many SEO and social media marketing managers prefer to charge a fixed monthly fee for their services. This gives a consistent and predictable income, which is beneficial for both the client and freelancer. Make sure you set parameters here too for what you will provide at a fixed-fee, and define how you’ll measure that – whether it’s by deliverable (e.g. blog post, social profile creation, and etc.), the actual hours it takes to complete your statement of work, or the number of hours you make available to your client.