A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Social Media Is Not Free, So Make Sure It’s Working

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

A recent survey by Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing of small and medium size businesses looked into how those businesses use social media.

In additional to the usual findings – the smallest firms rely on (and succeed with) a guerrilla-style approach, the largest firms hire staff and consultants, while firms in the middle struggle – it was interesting to see the budgets devoted to social media.

The median monthly spending on social media management tools for these firms is $845 and 32% of firms responding spent more than $1,000 a month! (All firms in the survey booked at least $5m in yearly sales.)

That’s not necessarily a huge line item in an overall marketing budget for firms of this size, but it is surprising to see numbers that large given the fuzziness in measurement and metrics that the survey uncovers. It’s even more surprising when you factor in the  staff and other costs associated with social media efforts which push the investment higher.

Social media has now matured to the point where it’s not a near-impossible sell to the C-suites. There will be a backlash though, if marketing teams can’t provide solid ROI numbers to justify the social media expenses.

Metrics and measurement will become increasingly important, and will have to move beyond basic website traffic, newsletter subscribers, and likes/fans/followers.

It’s tempting to ignore metrics and measurement until you’ve gained enough traction for there to be meaningful data to measure, but you’ll be far more capable of defending budgets – and re-allocating your resources – if you have a handle on what’s working and what’s not right from the start. 

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