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When preparing marketing budgets for your small business, don't forget to factor in social media costs. Although the basic use of popular sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are free, you will still have to spend money if you want to make the most out of your company's presence.
One key to preparing marketing budgets is to pay attention to the timing of expenses. Your annual budget should be broken down at least quarterly, and preferably monthly. If you only analyze your expenses annually, you can inadvertently wreak havoc on your cash flow projections, especially during peaks or valleys in spending.
Even in today's challenging economic climate - when companies frequently look to their marketing budgets for cost-saving opportunities - it's still important to persevere in your efforts, especially on social networks . Look at all aspects of your marketing budget, including traditional forms such as trade show participation and print advertising, in order to determine the most effective use of your budget.
When allocating marketing dollars to social media, there are a few things that must be factored in:
• Personnel - If you want an effective social network presence, you must be willing to set aside staff to monitor your company's profile, respond to comments, and engage with potential customers. This can take time, but it will be well worth in the long run. Additionally, you may want to consider hiring advertising specialists who can make professional ads for your business to disseminate through social media channels.
• Content - It's easy to get people to visit your business' social network profile once; it's a lot harder to keep them coming back. Quality content is the best way to keep your social media presence vital, and, if its good enough, you will get a lot more traffic through positive feedback and incoming links. There are scores of skilled copywriters who you can hire as employees, or simply as freelancers, that will greatly increase your value to customers.
• Analytics - Even if you have a dedicated social media monitor and top-notch content, all your efforts will be for nothing if you cannot measure the effectiveness of this activity. This can be a complex task, and most businesses will have to outsource the work to outside companies. This is valuable data, however, and it can help sharpen many aspects of your marketing plan - even those outside of the realm of social media.
These are the primary costs associated with social media marketing. However, if you are willing to make the commitment, the rewards will far outweigh the expenditures.