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How Much Does A Social Media Strategist Cost For A Small Business?

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Social media moves at the speed of life – sometimes at the speed of light if the headlines are compelling enough – so more and more businesses are hiring full-time strategists to handle the 24/7 influx of activity, engagements and opportunities.

So businesses have to have a social media presence. That’s a non-negotiable now.

But if you’re a small-to-medium business, the thought of hiring someone to manage your social presence seems lofty at best, and decadently impossible at worst.

Ask yourself: Can you afford your own hourly rate if you were to take time away from other pressing matters to handle your own social media?  

You may not have considered it from that perspective – but it warrants some thought. 

Because while you may think you can’t afford to hire a social media strategist, you’re technically costing yourself whatever your hourly time is worth every time you sit down to handle a task that could be delegated to someone – often surprisingly – more affordable than you. And let’s not even get into how they’re more qualified, dedicated to handling social media and nothing else and – GASP! – really enjoy doing it.

So here, we’ll cover how the cost of social media strategist services varies depending on several factors and all the options available depending on the needs of your business.

 

What Does A Social Media Strategist Do?

First things first: Let’s cover what a social media strategist is – and does.

A social media strategist manages all of a client’s unique social media needs to take their social media presence to the next level by managing their social channels, engaging with their audience, and tackling their scheduling to help them stay ahead of their competition and make lasting connections with their community and target audience. 

Here are some typical tasks that social media strategists can do, both for organizational and personal brands.

 

Personal Brand SMSCorporate Brand SMS
Example Represents 40 Hours A MonthExample Represents 80 Hours A Month
Every 1 – 2 Days:

  • Create and schedule posts 
  • Source images and/ or videos to accompany posts 
  • Monitor and respond to post comments and messages from client’s followers. Alert client if there’s a comment that requires their input.
Daily:

  • Monitor posts at their scheduled time to ensure they posted correctly, and address/ troubleshoot any technology glitches immediately
  • Monitor engagement on these posts, including responding to any comments when necessary in a timely manner
  • Monitor social channels for brand mentions and messages and respond when appropriate
  • Share interesting content that aligns with brand messaging or content that has mentioned the brand
  • Grow following by seeking out and interacting/ creating relationships with key users
  • Keep on top of current social media trends and implementing when appropriate
Weekly:

  • Plan and manage content calendar 
  • Coordinate with client and/or marketing team to ensure content aligns with company campaigns and brand messaging 
  • Stay abreast of changes, trends and regulations for each social media platform (Social Media Examiner is a great resource)
  • Research trending and most relevant hashtags  
  • Identify accounts to follow and engage
Weekly:

  • Gather resources for the content calendar from a variety of sources from web searches for industry news to interacting with clients to get their updates, to mining content straight from other social profiles to reshare on BELAY channels
  • Work with the graphic design team or design corresponding graphics to material that was sourced, and edit any photography to match the brand
  • Schedule posts and corresponding links and request final approval
  • Plan out upcoming weeks content calendar including any events to promote, holidays or other reminders
  • Analyze posts from the previous week to incorporate content that resonated
  • Analyze hashtag performance and adjust hashtag mix to drive engagement
Monthly:

  • Assess and report performance results
  • Reevaluate strategy and adjust if necessary for optimal performance
  • Work with copywriter to plan articles and blog posts 
  • Create and manage ads and boosted posts
Monthly:

  • Assess and report performance results
  • Reevaluate strategy and adjust if necessary for optimal performance
  • Work with copywriter to plan articles and blog posts
Quarterly:

  • Coordinate photo-shoots around content needs 
  • Develop and manage giveaways and promotions
Quarterly:

  • Develop quarterly and/or yearly strategy based on goals
Meetings:

  • Attend monthly meeting to discuss content calendar
  • Communicate with client throughout the week via client’s preferred channel (email, IM, etc.)
Meetings:

  • Attend bi-weekly meetings with the internal marketing team to keep on top of events and important dates that are upcoming and names to watch out for
  • Schedule weekly 1:1 with team member who owns social media
  • Attend other meetings as needed
As Needed:

  • Update social media bios or logos when appropriate
  • Create/ Update brand templates, or work with the graphic design team to create templates

 

“So then why couldn’t my VA handle all of the above?” you counter.

Great question! Technically, they can. And maybe for what you and your business need, that could be perfect. But maybe your needs exceed the bandwidth, expertise or experience of a Virtual Assistant.

So here’s a side-by-side comparison of two of our contractor services – social media strategists and virtual assistants – so you can decide which one is right for your business – and realize why you probably need one, like yesterday!

Types Of Social Media Services

“Got it,” you say. “But then why not hire a social media assistant or manager? Aren’t they the same thing?

Another great question.

So let’s break this down. They all involve ‘social media.’ So we can nail that down. We know what they work on. But who does what?

See, a strategist can pull double duty as an assistant and manager but the assistant and manager are likely not strategists.

Clear as mud, right? Stick with us here.

Fear not – we can do this! Below, we compare both strategists and assistants side-by-side, too!

 

Social Media StrategistSocial Media Assistant
A Social Media Strategist is responsible for the overall strategy of your social media from a big picture perspective. A Social Media Assistant or Manager is responsible for the execution of the strategist’s plan.
TasksTasks
  • The development, implementation and management of social media strategies
  • Posting content daily
  • Developing and managing a monthly content calendar
  • Curating or writing the content to share on your page
  • Managing, creating and publishing original, high-quality content
  • Creating graphics
  • Doing audience and buyer persona research
  • Finding content to share on your page
  • Defining the most important social media KPIs, such as distinguishing ‘vanity metrics’ from actionable metrics
  • Repurposing content you previously wrote
  • Building an online community
  • Keeping up on engagement, such as responding to all comments and DMs
  • Running a competitive analysis
  • Monitoring brand mentions
  • Measuring the success of social media campaigns
  • Early adoption of social media and technology
  • Collaborating with copywriters, designers, marketing, and sales, product, and development teams
  • Tracking and analyzing results to provide effective solutions for content optimization
  • Facilitating client-company communication, such as responding to queries, getting reviews, and organizing chats and Q&A sessions
  • Prepare weekly and monthly reports 
  • Communicating with industry professionals via social media to create a strong network
  • Mining curated content and monitoring current social media trends
  • Designing, managing and organizing brand assets, photography and graphics
  • Creating paid ad placements
  • Increasing followers and engagement
  • Leveraging social media to promote marketing initiatives and strategies
  • Handling all commenting and direct messaging across all social channels
  • Leveraging measurement tools to provide progress reports and mine insights
  • Finding ways to improve on metrics by honing in on content that resonates
  • Engaging with influencers and initiating conversations with industry leaders on social 
  • Establishing and/or reinforcing brand voice and social media identity

Basic Social Media Strategist Costs

Maybe – hopefully – you’ve concluded you can’t afford your own hourly rate to keep managing your social media. Bravo!

Now, let’s lay the argument of in-house vs. outsourced social media squarely on what this looks like in application – with real dollars-and-cents.

On average, remote work is very often cheaper for employers – reportedly $11,000 cheaper – when instituted on just a part-time basis. 

But let’s break it down a little further, shall we? Let’s compare the cost of an in-house social media employee vs. an outsourced social media strategist. But keep in mind that these numbers are industry averages, and are subject to variables, like your location.

Full-Time In-House Social Media Costs

On average, a full-time in-house social media strategist’s annual salary is roughly $58,000 but unless you actually need full-time social media help – and we’re guessing you don’t … yet – you’re paying for more hours than you need.

Then, overhead costs add an additional 20 percent on top of an employee’s base salary and include … 

  • Payroll Taxes
  • Medical/Benefits
  • Retirement Plans
  • Vacation/Sick Days
  • Placing Ads
  • Screening Interviews
  • Testing and Training

Outsourced Social Media Strategist Costs

On average, outsourced social media strategist services cost anywhere between $35 to $70 an hour for small and medium businesses depending on the hours you need each month. 

And BONUS! You pay only for the hours you need – nothing more.

And DOUBLE BONUS! Outsourced social media services come with none of the a la carte overhead expenses.

How To Hire The Right Social Media Strategist

Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, here are five questions to ask to make sure you hire the right social media strategist for your business.

  1. What is your #1 objective when managing social media for a company?

Why this is an important question to ask: This question gets at the heart of why this person is or wants to be a social media strategist. This is your opportunity to have them walk you through their goal development process

Asking this will let you know … 

  • What drove them to get into social media
  • Why they think it’s beneficial for companies
  • What their first goal will be when taking over your social media management
  • If they have separate goals for different campaigns
  1. What social media management technology do you have experience with?

Why this is an important question to ask: Listen for the reasons why they like the tools to help you better visualize their experience in their previous position.

Asking this will let you know … 

  • What their favorite social media management tools are
  • What they prefer to use to manage content
  • Their experience with user experience/UX analytics tools
  1. What was your favorite (and least favorite) social media marketing campaign you deployed and why?

Why this is an important question to ask: The answers to this question will give insight into their ability to plan, and lead a team and see a campaign through. 

Asking this will let you know … 

  • If they have completed a scheduled campaign 
  • What went well and what didn’t with the team they worked with 
  • If they planned and followed through 
  • If they have to adjust as they went
  • What leads or brand awareness the campaign produced
  1. What company do you think our company could be more like on social media?

Why this is an important question to ask: Knowing what they admire gives you insight into the direction they could take your company’s social presence.

Asking this will let you know …

  • What specifically they find appealing
  • If they like the design elements of their profiles and posts
  • If they like the tone behind their posts
  • If they like the type of content they share
  • What style of creative assets they think resonate with your audience 
  1. How do you continually learn about new trends in the social media world?

Why this is an important question to ask: You want a social media manager who’s always at the forefront of new trends and willing to try new things.

Asking this will let you know …

  • What blogs they follow 
  • If they attend webinars 
  • If they take online courses
  • The kinds of courses they seek out

For five more of the most important questions to ask when choosing the right social media strategist, check this out.

Stop Doing It All Yourself. We Can Help.

Whether you’re a church, nonprofit, or small business, social media has in large part leveled the exposure playing field, and its opportunities are endless for businesses to increase brand awareness and new customer gains – all without paying-to-play like in the traditional advertising media days of yore. 

And all it takes is one quick call to get started.

Let a BELAY Social Media Strategist manage your unique social media needs – which can be varied, extensive and exhaustive – and build a strong online presence to get you back to what you love most: running and growing your business.

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Related BELAY article: 5 Signs You Need A Social Media Strategist