How Much Does Social Media Marketing Really Cost?

“How much does social media marketing cost?” was first presented in a Facebook Live broadcast. You can find the recording here.

Before we can dive in and answer the burning question on everyone’s mind, “How much does social media marketing cost?”, we have to dispel a myth and discuss how time-consuming it is (to do it right).


I don’t know why the myth that’s free (or close to it) persists. Sure, creating an account on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, etc. is free. But that’s about where the “free” part of social media marketing ends.

Social media marketing costs a lot of time if you want to do it right and see results. Getting your content in front of your target market costs money — highly targeted ads are not free. And creating content to share on social media marketing is not free, either — it costs time and money.

Think of it this way: Social media marketing is an investment in the growth and success of your business. If you track results and tweak your strategy as you go, you will realize a nice return on that investment.


How much time you spend on social media marketing depends on your goals, but let’s say you want to increase thought leadership. Therefore, you want to see engagement in the form of shares and comments.

It’s time-consuming and expensive to constantly generate original content, so you want to curate and share content that you find helpful and valuable. You also want to start conversations and look for conversations to join. Sharing information, sharing your expertise and helping others all build trust.

Finally, you want to boost your content to reach more people.

Now let’s talk about how many channels we’re using. For our purposes, we’ll say Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. To see results, you need to be fairly active on all three channels. From our experience, this requires at least 10–15 hours per month.


Because you can do social media marketing yourself or outsource it to experts, we’ll look at both scenarios.

If you do it yourself, calculate how much money you could be making if you were working in your business, not on your business. So, what’s your billable rate? If you sell products, how much can you typically make in 10–15 hours?

If you choose to outsource it, ask professionals (freelancers and agencies) for a proposal. Costs will vary based on where you live. Obviously, if you live in San Francisco, it will cost more than if you live in Waco, TX.

Note I said a “professional.” Do not outsource your company’s social media marketing to your 20-year-old niece, virtual assistant, or an intern. Unless you like wasting money, you only want to work with a social media marketing professional who does this for a living and delivers proven results.


Now you know how much time it takes, how much it costs, how much it would cost you to do it yourself, and how much money you would save outsourcing it.

Time to calculate your ROI! How many new clients or customers would you need to make back (or exceed) your investment? It will likely be far less than you think.

Also, keep in mind that it’s difficult (if not impossible) to calculate the increase in brand awareness or thought leadership you may also earn from a smart, well-executed social media marketing strategy.

And now you have a fairly good idea of how much it costs. Got any questions? Leave a comment — I’m happy to help fill in some blanks.