Marketing budgets have always been built around how much money it was going to take to get the word out about whatever was important to the organization. Budgets were about money and nothing more but with social media in the marketing mix now that’s no longer the case.
Because of social media, money isn’t enough in your marketing budget. You can’t buy your way into social media success. Proper social media takes time and not the kind of time you just go outsource, but the kind of time that’s dedicated to owning the social media efforts. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? It usually is. That’s why you need a budget.
Can You Budget For Social Media?
By now, most organizations have figured out that time is as much a part of the marketing budget as money. They know good people who understand social media is the most direct route to succeeding with social media. The problem is, however, that the best people to help are usually the busiest in your organization. Time is the last thing they feel like they have to give…and therein lies a common tension. You need good people with time to do this well, but your best people for the job probably have the least time to give. That’s where getting a budget comes into play:
Two Keys To Social Media Budgeting: Fixed & Variable Time
In the world of finance there are two designations of costs.The first designation is fixed cost and the other is variable cost. Fixed costs are the things in your budget that you have to pay for no matter what. For instance, a mortgage is a standard fixed cost most of us have in our personal budgets. We pay the same rate each month regardless of how much we were home that month.
Variable cost is the stuff you have to pay for but the price is flexible because of outside circumstances. Your electric bill is like this. Depending on the time of year it’s higher at times and lower at other times.
So what if we applied the idea of fixed and variable costs to budgeting our time for social media? Consider this: if the two sides of social media are content and conversation, and we know it takes time to do these well, go ahead and assign fixed and variable time in your social media efforts.
I recommend you start by looking at all of your content and some of your conversational efforts as fixed cost. These are all the things you can plan on. In the case of content creation, I’ve talked about the meal verses snack approach before and that’s a good way to get a handle on your blogging time.
The variable time comes in the form of conversation. Have you ever gotten sucked into a Twitter discussion about something you said or been overwhelmed by the number of comments on a blog post or Facebook update? Those are all things you couldn’t have anticipated so they fall into the variable time category.
As you look at your anticipated social media activity over the next week, go ahead and assign most of that to your “fixed social media time budget” and also plan for some “variable socil media time” just in case something you say or do really takes off.
By thinking about the time that goes into your social media efforts in fixed and variable categories, you may find that it gives you a sense of a more control and relieves some anxiety about the time it takes to succeed with social media.