Budget is an often-overlooked aspect of social media marketing. It is all too easy to fall into the idea that marketing on social media is free. Why isn’t it free? I can set up an account at no cost and begin posting in minutes, right? While the above statement is true, it misses the bigger issues around budgeting for social media. Time, Money, Commitment, Patience, and Focus are all aspects of budgeting that need to be considered. The following tips from my personal experience can help anyone begin their social media marketing budget with confidence.
1. Time = Money
If there is one thing all entrepreneurs know it’s that time is limited, and every minute of the day is valuable. If you underestimate the time commitment involved in managing your social media, it can become overwhelming.
Chris Tip: When I first started managing the social media identity for KSU’s Student Managed Investment Fund, LLC., I seriously underestimated the cost of my time. I was so excited to start their social media identity that I overlooked the time it would take to execute it. This ultimately left me in a constant state of catching up. I was always writing posts and creating content the day they were posted and this resulted in missed posts and poor quality content. Just like with a cash budget, determine how much time you have to spend and decide if you can afford a new project.
2. Cash is King?
Is cash really the most important aspect of a social media budget? Lets talk about grease payments. In most business situations, cash is essential. You can’t have a lemonade stand without buying lemons (unless your doing some sort of lemon consignment, in which case, more power to ya). In the digital age of social media, however, cash gets things moving easier and/or faster. Paid advertising and promotion can grow your audience, product placement can increase awareness, better content and materials can increase perceived quality and make customers easier to convert. The trick is, determining what you can commit, financially, then, planing your strategy.
Remember, time can fall into the cash category of your budget if you need to hire help
“If you lack a certain expertise in an area, this could be a great signal that it’d be worth it to pay someone else to take over.”Buffer.com
Chris Tip: If all resources are limited, I wouldn’t start off my social media strategy by saying “I will buy everything” or “I can do this for free”. Instead, I would find some form of cash to play with, then make a list of my personal strengths and weaknesses. From that list, I know where to spend my money. Don’t just take my word for it. Maybe my content isn’t great so I invest in a new camera. Maybe I’m not attracting enough customers organically so I invest in paid promotion. Honesty is key here. Knowing what you can do and what you can’t do will save a lot of time, money, and headaches. Think of a homeowner with an ever growing list of “I can fix that’s”. Know your limitations and, more importantly, your strengths.
3. Are you ready to commit?
A lesson i’ve learned from my personal life is, “humans love to commit but struggle to stay committed.” Think of diets, gym memberships, New Years resolutions, its almost a cliché at this point that we humans fail to achieve more than a few of our best intentions. Know your abilities and don’t feel defeated if you can’t commit to social media right now. We all have priorities in our lives and prioritizing what is important now, doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize social media later. I feel this is one of the most important and most difficult aspects of budgeting. It requires you to look inward and evaluate yourself. How will you perform? Have the difficult conversation with yourself and if you commit, stick with it.
4. How big is your suitcase?
In my more recent years, I have had the privilege to travel curtesy of my mother’s exceptional generosity. My first case of culture shock came on our trip to Italy. We were on the train back to Florence from Cinque Terra and, after a long day, my heart desired a gin and tonic above all else. Long story short, a language barrier had inhibited my pursuits and I returned to my seat defeated. Was my defeat the fault of the gentleman attending the bar car? Certainly not, it was my own. I was frustrated that I didn’t learn some Italian and a little helpless that I couldn’t accomplish something so simple. It was then I learned I didn’t bring a big enough suitcase. My mother told me, “I need to pack a little more patience.” As usual, she was right. When starting a new project or visiting a new country, you need to bring extra patience; same as you pack extra sock.
5. Needs vs. Wants?
According to vuelo6.com, “You may know…what to do, but knowing what not to do when budgeting…is as important.” I am guilty of is getting caught up in the fun of a project. Very quickly, I loose sight of my needs and begin focusing on what looks cool or is entertaining. Allow me to quote Apple by saying,
“…we begin to confuse convenience with joy; abundance with choice.”fastcompany.com
This focused mindset is so vital to any project. Do you need a perfectly edited YouTube series that will cost thousands or is a more unprofessional format just as good? If something is truly needed, push it to the limits and make it perfect. If something is just cool, consider leaving it off your list for now.