How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011?

by Mack Collier

Click here to get the 2012 Price Update to this post.

Last February I wrote a post about the prices companies could expect to pay for basic social media services.  It ended up being the most viewed post here in 2010, by more than a 3 to 1 margin.  And interestingly, it gets a TON of search traffic, terms like ‘social media cost’, ‘cost of a blog’, ‘social media fees’, etc.  That tells me that there’s still a lot of confusion and a lack of clarity about what prices companies should expect to pay for basic social media services.

So I wanted to update that post for 2011, with a bit more information, and greater clarity around the numbers. These figures come from rates shared with me by fellow consultants and agencies that specialize in social media marketing, in addition to my own research, as well as what I charge for similar services.   Last year I only included ranges for each service, this year I’ve added a Most Charge distinction to give everyone a greater idea of what they will probably pay.  I’ve also added a few more services, such as training workshops, speaking, hourly consulting rates, and even ghostwriting fees (yes companies pay for this).

As I mentioned last year, when you are trying to set your social media budget for a project, there are several questions you need to ask yourself, such as:

  • What are your goals for using social media?  Brand awareness? Generate sales or leads?  This greatly determines the tools necessary to achieve those goals
  • What are your resources?  Can you handle everything in-house, or will you need to outsource some of the work?  All of the work?
  • What is the length of the project?  Obviously, a 6-month project will cost more than a 3-month project.

When you contact a consultant or agency, they should be asking you questions as well.  They should want to know why you want to use social media, what are you trying to accomplish.  If they try to give you prices without asking you questions, that is a red flag.  They really can’t give you prices until they know more about your company, your resources, and what you are wanting to accomplish.

Here’s the prices:


Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource all content creation (including customer interaction, handling responses to comments, etc) – $1,000-$12,000 a month

Most Charge – $3,000 – $5,000 a month

Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource some content creation – $1,000-$8,000 a month

Most Charge – $2,000-$3,500 a month

Restructure an existing blog to improve your efforts – $1,000-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months

Most Charge – $2,000-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

Ghostwriting blog posts – $50-$500 per

Most Charge – $100-$250 per


Launch a new presence on Twitter and outsource all content creation and customer interaction – $1,000-$7,500 a month

Most Charge – $2,000-$4,000 a month

Launch a new presence on Twitter and then provide ongoing training for company – $1,000-$6,000 a month

Most Charge – $1,000-$3,000 a month

Restructure an existing Twitter presence to improve your efforts – $1,000-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

Most Charge – $1,000-$2,500 a month

Limited coaching to improve your existing efforts on Twitter – $1,000-$4,000 a month

Most Charge – $1,000-$2,500 a month


Launch a Facebook Page from the ground-up, outsourcing all content creation and customer interactions – $2,000-$9,000 a month

Most Charge – $2,500-$5,000 a month

Launch a Facebook Page from the ground-up, with limited ongoing training – $1,500-$7,500 a month for 3-6 months

Most Charge – $2,000-$4,000 a month

Social Media Strategy:

Comprehensive Social Media Strategy Creation, assuming outsourcing of all content creation through all channels(minimum 2) – $3,000-$20,000 a month

Most Charge – $4,000-$7,000 a month

Comprehensive Social Media Strategy Creation, assuming limited outsourcing of content creation and/or ongoing training –$3,000-$15,000 a month for 4-12 months

Most Charge – $3,000-$6,000 a month

Audit of existing Social Media Strategy Including Recommendations for Improvement – $2,000-$10,000

Most Charge – $2,000-$5,000

Social Media Consulting:

Hourly rates – $50-$500/Hr

Most Charge – $75-$200/Hr

Note: These prices are based on buying just one hour of a consultant’s time.  Many consultants also offer their consulting time in blocks of time.  These hours are usually offered at a discounted rate.  For example, a consultant might charge $100 for one hour of her time, but if you buy 5 hours of her time, she’ll give you a 25% discount to $375 for 5 hours.  Progressive discounts are sometimes offered as the volume of hours bought increases, with final discounts being as high as 33-50% off hourly rates.

On-Site Training/Workshops (All fees excluding travel expenses)

1-2 Hours – $500-$5,000

Most Charge – $500-$2,000

Half-Day (4 hours) – $1,000 – $10,000

Most Charge – $1,000 – $4,000

Full-Day (6-8 hours) – $2,000 – $50,000

Most Charge – $2,500-$5,000

Note: Keep in mind that consultants (at least the ones worth hiring) will invest several hours of prep time in assembling and customizing their training materials for you.  So while you might buy a full-day workshop, the total time investment for the consultant (including the workshop) could easily be 20-40 hours.  Plus they will likely lose at least a full day in travel to and from your company.

As with volume discounts on hourly consulting rates, many consultants will charge more at an hourly rate for workshops shorter than a full day.  For example, one consultant might charge $2,000 for a 2-hour workshop, and $5,000 for an 8-hour workshop.

A final word about prices: Don’t be afraid to negotiate.  If the quoted price is past your budget, ask for a break, especially if the project will be longer than 3 months.  A consultant might not be willing to give you a 15% discount on a 2-month project, but they might for a 6-month project.

So hopefully this post will be of some value to you as your company finalizes its 2011 budgets.  And if you need help fleshing out your own social media strategy, or if you need social media training, please email me for a custom quote.

C.C. Chapman January 4, 2011 at 8:35 am

A great AND needed post.

Having these numbers out there helps both the consultants and the companies who hire them to realize that this isn’t free and it may not cost as much as you thought.

Definitely bookmarking this one for future reference.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 8:53 am

Thanks CC, there is a LOT of confusion about prices simply because not a lot of people publish them, or the ones that do usually don’t promote them openly.

And the people that DO publish their rates usually are the ‘rockstars’ that can charge several times what the average agency/consultant can. Then at the other end, you have the branding/SEO agency/consultant that decides to start doing social media, and they might charge ‘too little’ because they aren’t sure how much work is involved. Both ends skew the ‘real’ picture a bit, IMO.

As with much in life, the truth is somewhere in the middle 😉

Gabriele Maidecchi January 4, 2011 at 8:44 am

Great post Mack, it’s not very easy to find so many details about objective prices of social media around, and this is a very nice piece of information to see for people still believing social media is “practically free”.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

Thanks Gabriele, and to tie into the comment I made above to CC, that was probably one of the many things I wanted to make sure companies understand. That most SM services probably aren’t as cheap as you think, but they might not be as expensive either, if that makes sense. I think the companies that really haven’t dipped their toes in the SM waters underestimate what these services cost, then on the other end, the companies that ARE paying attention to this space might think that most consultants charge $10K a month. The truth is usually in the middle.

Kellye Crane January 4, 2011 at 9:59 am

Great format you’ve used here, Mack. A couple additional considerations for those looking to hire consultants: get your internal teams on the same page initially — back-and-forth within your company after the consultant is on board (often causing multiple revisions to strategies/documents) will burn through budgets quickly.

Also, when looking solely at hourly rates, an experienced pro’s fees will look higher, but they usually work faster and will often cost less over the course of the project. Asking for a quote for the entire project (as Mack lists above) is a good way to avoid this pitfall.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hey Kellye, great points, especially the 2nd one. Also on pricing, @TomMartin made a great point on Twitter that there can be regional variations, or if agencies are competing for a national account, prices from around the country can vary widely.

Your point is spot-on as well, if someone has been consulting for 4 years and they charge double what another consultant does, it’s probably because they know they can get that much, And they can probably get that much because they do a good job.

Brad Mays January 4, 2011 at 10:00 am

Thanks for this community/industry service. I like you you left enough room at the high-end, but put it in realistic terms in the “most charge” section. There’s room in there for agencies of all sizes, as well as for individual consultants.

Alison Law January 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

Thanks for this post, Mack. Since social media is still a relatively new tool for consultants and their clients (at least in my world of small B2B and professional services marketing), it’s taken time for me to both get up to speed on the various platforms and the audiences they serve, and to figure out how much time is involved to do things right. Establishing goals up front and being as transparent as possible about what’s going into any campaign are essential.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 10:58 am

Alison that is a great point about planning and trying to get a better sense of exactly what you want to do with social media.

The problem is, too many companies simply contact agencies/consultants and say ‘How much will it cost us to use social media?’. The agency/consultant can’t give the company an accurate figure without more information.

For example, I am working with a company now that knows it wants to get started using social media. We discussed my giving them a proposal, but I told them I can’t give them an accurate price until I have done some research into exactly what their resources are, as well as their goals, etc. That way I have a much better understanding of the situation and can suggest the appropriate tools for them. Which means they aren’t paying for services they don’t need.

At the end of the day, companies need to do a good job of figuring out WHY they want to use social media, as you said, and also do their research when contacting agencies/consultants to help them.

Pam Kozelka January 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hi Mack, thanks for the time to put this together. We get questions regarding price quite often and it is nice to have this resource to refer clients too.

Paul L'Acosta January 4, 2011 at 10:25 am

Extremely useful Mack. Now I don’t have to continue googling “social media price list menu”! All I have to do now is sit down and order… Good luck in 2011! ~Paul

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thanks Paul, and good luck to you as well!

Rick January 4, 2011 at 10:42 am

Great list for hiring agencies or consultants for a company, but what about the smaller freelancer (e.g., me) looking to help small businesses get started on some of these same platforms? Do you think your numbers can be sloped down for smaller interactions like that? – thanks!

Scott Dennison January 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

I’d say that Mack DID provide you some sloped down numbers. By showing the high, low and most charged numbers you have a nice range to work from.

As you develop social proof that you can do what you commit to and have a reasonable CHI (Hubspot’s customer happiness index) then your rates will rise along the spectrum.

If you are looking at the numbers given and a voice in your head says “I’m not worth that much” then that is a different issue. I can say first hand that the hardest part to asking for $125-200 per hour or more is to do it without laughing.

Judy Helfand January 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

Hi Mack,
This post is a great resource. It would seem the rates you are quoting would apply to Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 companies. Is that correct? Have you done “research” on what a small company, say with gross income 500,000 – 1, 000,000 might expect to pay for these services or might want to consider budgeting for Social Media?

Thanks again for all of your insights and support.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 11:02 am

Judy this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but I think that a Fortune 500 company, for example, would sometimes be quoted higher prices for a similar project as opposed to a mom and pop business. I think this is mostly because the agency/consultant assumes that the Fortune 500 company probably has a larger budget. This is where it pays to cost-compare, if you don’t like the deal one agency/consultant gives you, keep shopping.

Jennifer Smith January 4, 2011 at 11:06 am

Excellent, needed. Seems very accurate, too, from where I sit (and charge and compare, as both in-house and freelance consultant).

Donny Claxton January 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Thanks for this. I agree with those above. This is an excellent guideline.

Kevin D. Lyons January 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Kudos Mack for pulling the veil back once again. Your assessment is right in line.

Similar to Kellye Crane’s comment above on the efficiency factor of experience, I many times will layer multiple objectives in to one hourly rate to provide greater value to clients. This is especially the case in small business, personality driven brands, and non-profits where budgets are usually tighter or non-existent. I frequently layer graphic design, code development, marketing, analytics, copyrighting, SM strategy, SM execution, and tech support to provide additional value and position a higher rate while still saving clients time and money by having to outsource additional talent. However, if I am operating in one of my premium roles like community architecture and growth it’s expected to have the other tactical skill sets brought to the table to fulfill the objective as art of the rate. It seems like some of the items on your like could be in “combo packs” for more savings.

At the end of the day all things are negotiable. Some contractors or “pro’s” don’t mind entertaining early delivery bonuses, revenue shares, incentives for additional features, etc. in lieu of a reduced (not by much :) ) rate.

Thanks Mack!

buonman January 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Hi Mack,
I was on twitter reading tweets and I stumble on your tweets. It’s a great article you have written there, I was really wondering about how much a company should spend if they want to increase their web presense.
and hey, nice hat…

Kirk Ackerson January 4, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Great article! I recently had a conversation where the client based his proposed rates on the freelancer site, After explaining how much research and effort would go into creating a social media strategy for his business, I finally had to decline his offer. While sites such as this are valid alternatives, sometimes it just feels like a race to the bottom as far as pricing for services. Hopefully, your article will serve as a potential benchmark for clients and agencies alike.

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Hey Kirk. I think many companies forget that social media can also help the company SAVE money by lowering existing business costs. It can make existing communication more efficient, it can make customer service more effective, it can lower recruitment costs, etc etc etc. Often a client will be will to make you a bit more, if you can make a more compelling case for how YOUR efforts will have a greater impact on their business. Think about ways to generate revenue AND lower costs. Both get the job done 😉

David Warwick January 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Great ‘signpost’ piece for where serious social media services stand. From my experiences in Australia, most quality vendors in Sydney and Melbourne would be working within these ranges for corporate work.
I agree with Kellye that a senior consultant would have higher hourly rates (and produce more).
Clearly work can be ‘shopped’ around for lower prices, however chasing price without a focus on return (outcomes) is dangerous. Paying a bit more for quality, experience and in some areas industry knowledge may make better economic sense in a full value for money equation.
Thanks for the post, well needed!

Rob van Alphen January 4, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Hi Mack

Interesting post. In the ratecard above you often state things such as “outsourcing all content creation and customer interactions”.

I wonder what your opinion is towards consultants doing community management for companies. In my opinion conversations should be done by company representatives, since social media is all about ‘authenticity’ and the above is of course the very opposite. Besides this, I feel that an external resource can never fully comprehend the mission/vision of the company for which they will online engage. How is this e.g. the case for crisis communication?

What I do believe, however, is that companies should be guided in this process until they fully understand and are equipped to do it themselves. A consultant could thus start with contributing (well-defined types of) content in name of the company for the first couple of months, while training staff in the meantime. He should however have a direct line (!) with an authorized responsible from the business (e.g. senior marketing manager) in case a potential crisis presents itself. Time cannot be lost here.

What are your thoughts on this?

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Rob I agree with everything you said as being the ideal situation.

However, a lot of companies view social media as being strictly marketing/advertising. As such, they believe it should be outsourced, since they pay an ad agency or marketing firm to handle their advertising, why is this any different? The mentality is the same, and they also think any blog posts should be ghostwritten, etc.

But my approach is that an agency/consultant should do the heavy-lifting for a client at first, teaching them how to use the tools along the way. Over time, the client becomes more involved (because they better understand how to use the tools, thanks to our training), and eventually, we step aside because the client no longer needs us holding their hands.

Do I like it when companies want to outsource everything? No, but it’s a business reality.

Bernard Martin January 7, 2011 at 9:29 am

Perfectly stated above. …and a great article. Thank you for posting.

I often tell clients that the process looks something like the following:
1. Determine Goals & Objectives
2. Map out the branding, keywords & mission
3. Build the appropriate social sites
4. Wire them together
5. “seed” the initial effort (get them started)

…and throughout doing some training to show them how the tools work, what they can do, and how they can be used in the context of THEIR business.

BUT the real key to all of this is training. I explain that more than 50% of my time is spent teaching the basic functions, and helping clients understand how their existing efforts can be rolled into the implementation.

Peggy Dolane January 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I agree that teaching the client “how to fish” is an important part of a social media adviser. The best social engagement comes from authentic relationships — an agency will never be able to do that as well as the real people in the organization will.

Becky Carroll January 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Mack, this is great information which I just shared with one of my former social media students to help her with pricing a new opportunity.

As far as Fortune 500 pricing goes, typically those types of engagements are much more complex than what is needed for a smaller-sized business. Hence the typically higher prices for a larger company. I tend to price differently for non-profit, small-biz/simpler strategy and large-biz/complex strategy. Of course, as you so aptly stated, all of this can vary based on what they are already doing, their goals, and the preferences of their customers. Your price ranges are a good reference point.

Thanks again, Mack. You rock in 2011 (as always)!

Mack Collier January 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Becky great point about larger companies being more complex & often dealing with a larger team as well.

Thank you Becky for the insights, I love the feedback y’all are giving, making this post so much more valuable.

James G. January 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Great post across the board. Working in both social and mobile media, I come across pricing issues more often than not, and usually right up front. I think the much hyped sensation of “free” social media did much to overate the potential and underrate the effort involved in making social media a viable (and valuable) customer communication and retention tool.

Thanks for the effort involved here.

Kathryn Lang January 4, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I was just talking to a guy today about his need to build his social networking presence. Glad to see that the numbers I quoted him were not that far off from what you have suggested. It at least gives me a better feeling that I may actually know what I’m talking about.

Now to get the keys to building my client base . . .

Des Walsh January 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

At last, a practical post with a ton of information and explanation to help companies and consultants. This is invaluable.

Surely any of us consultants or coaches who want to be in business for the long haul and get repeat business will want to be paid appropriately, not so little as to starve, not so much as to do ourselves out of business on the next review and we will want our prospects and clients to have some industry benchmarks to test our offerings and delivery against.

I appreciate the helpfulness and candour of this post, Mack. Your characteristically generous and supportive approach writ large.

I appreciate the post particularly because it is such a contrast to all those lazy, unresearched and fundamentally offensive posts one sees with link baiting subject headings along the lines of “don’t trust anyone who calls themselves a social media consultant” (subtext, “trust me and hire me ’cause I’m not like them I’m one of the good guys”).

Shailender @ Travel India January 5, 2011 at 3:02 am

I was very keen to know how and how much does a social media website earns. It clearly shows they easily earns in billions. That’s why I was wondering how Mark Zuckerberg becomes one of the richest man so early…. :-)

Venessa Paech January 5, 2011 at 4:16 am

Some great points.

I’d suggest adding moderation and true community management costs, both legally critical and prudent for quality control, user experience. etc.

Moderation functionality and talent is costly and commonly overlooked until businesses are in way over their head – at which point they may have serious technical debt, liability problems and a gaggle of relationship management issues.

It’s not something you want left to the interns.

Mack Collier January 5, 2011 at 8:31 am

Venessa I will be honest with you, there are a TON of services that could have been added to this post. You could do one just on white-label social site options for the enterprise. Or what about mobile app development? Or webinars?

I wanted to keep this post very simple to focus on the basic services that the most companies are interested in learning about. But ALSO, I was hoping that this would broaden the discuss so that agencies and consultants that specialize in a certain area could help fill in the gaps on the pricing with their own posts. Finding solid pricing on most social media marketing is like pulling teeth. I am hoping this will spark a more open discussion about the actually costs involved.

Julius Solaris January 5, 2011 at 7:04 am

Well said.

Great benchmarks for the industry. It does help a lot to inject some reality into a quite hard to define industry. Well implemented idea.


alison @ Ingredients, Inc. January 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

Perfect timing! I am quoting a bunch of jobs this week! Thanks so much!

Mack Collier January 5, 2011 at 8:32 am

Good luck Alison!

Kathryn Siranosian January 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

I think I need to raise my rates! :)

Peggy Dolane January 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

That’s exactly the same thing I was thinking!

Rob Berman January 5, 2011 at 10:49 am


I agree that the firm should be taught how to use the tools over the first few months. Then they can be weaned off of the reliance on an outsourced entity to handle all the interactions. Authenticity comes from company employees interacting via social media.

The comments about pricing are so true. Bigger firms are not so scared about the numbers. Guru prices from overseas will undercut US based prices every day. As Des said, you need to earn enough not to starve.


Charlotte Poltenovage January 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Enjoyed your post, Mack, but I’m wondering if you noticed any regional trends. Just as home prices vary depending upon the area, I’m guessing the same holds true for social media costs. Did your data come from a particular region or was it a random nationwide sampling?


Jay Baer January 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Great stuff Mack. Thanks for making this happen again. I agree with Kellye’s comment above on hourly rates.

Don’t charge for hammering. Charge for knowing where to hammer.

Catherine Lockey January 5, 2011 at 12:55 pm

This pricelist is a godsend to me. I’ve been pricing out blog construction separately from post creation when what I really need to do is charge monthly for the creation and management of it. I don’t agree with your price value per post – It’s great, search optimized content which generates interest and backlinks. Plus, a post should link to other posts within the blog. It should be well researched and have an attractive visual, alt tags, title tags, and the SEO pack should be used properly. The title needs to be really catchy. The content itself must lead the reader. Then, the post itself should be seeded – especially if its for someone with little to no digital presence. What do you think all that is worth Mack?

Davina K. Brewer January 5, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Mack, Another thanks for this post, much needed. @Judy’s question about scaling this down per small businesses, I agree with your putting the numbers in big ranges, because it will vary greatly. Even if a small business, a tremendous about of work, strategic thinking still goes into the job. That said, I still wonder what those numbers and percentages really look like for that mom-and-pop biz.

@Kellye’s comment about efficiency, experience is spot on, as is @Kevin’s per the variety of skill sets a consultant can bring to the table, going back to one of your replies about actually saving the company money in the long run. Being more efficient, more effective and like @Jay said, knowing where to hammer, saving money by not wasting it.

One of the ways to not waste money is to develop a plan by asking the right questions. Like you told @Alison, you can’t quote a job on the fly without specifics, without details. That’s one of my “spotting the tire kicker” tricks, if I can’t get any real answers. FWIW.

Justin Goldsborough January 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Hi, Mack. Thanks for sharing. Important for biz leaders to see that social media is not something you can set up and launch in five minutes. At least, not if you hope to reach any objectives or achieve any goals.

The hardest thing about pricing for me — big agency or small — is how easy is it going to be for me to get the information I need from the client to successfully manage the social presences you mentioned above — e.g. share applicable content, answer customer questions, etc. The answer to this question could cause rates to vary significantly, don’t you think? How do you account for that?

Cloggin January 5, 2011 at 6:43 pm

I had engaged with Social Media Seattle on Facebook (who linked this post) and I thought I’d just share my impression of these prices from as-objective-as-possible viewpoint:

*Blog Ranges* – The low end of each range seems a bit low. High end is expected. Keep in mind hourly rates to monitor users is what really drives the price up.

*Twitter Ranges* – I would say low ranges are reasonable – but what is the use in retaining someone to post if you don’t have anyone analyzing the data? Pulling on a content manager and a web analyst (even if they’re the same person) should run the high-end of these ranges way up. That’s assuming you’re running campaigns and not just ad hoc posts.

*Facebook Ranges* – I think these are low. If you find a quality company to run your Facebook page apart from all other customer outreach programs, expect they will start discussions, engage with brands, plan events and more all through (our favorite) social media platform. Content is great but quality interaction is even better. There’s also a question to be had about contests, competitions and give-aways – cost of any incentive or reward for your target audience should be included in this monthly range.

*Overall Social Media Strategy* – I also think these are low. Creating a social media strategy could be rated as important as creating a business plan: how will you engage your customers; why are you even in customer-oriented business? (Keeping in mind B2B still requires the marketer to talk to individuals at another business, and they become your customers.)

*Hourly/Daily Rates* – These rates are what I expect(ed). Full disclosure: I have yet to do or participate in any dedicated day-long workshops, seminars etc; however my recommendation to my clients would be for a retainer to be on-call, like an in-house social media resource, outsourced. Like any advertising budget, you should still keep a cap on what you expect to spend (or can afford).

For anyone reading these ranges, above all else do not underestimate the value in quality content. Regardless of vehicle (blog, social network, email, etc) to communicate with your users the quality content will always be king. If you have to be tight with budgets, my recommendation would be to skimp on graphics/apps/presentation of content and spend money on getting content generated or supported.

My $0.02.

(FB post: from Social Media Seattle)

Mickey Hodges January 5, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Nice info to have, it gives you something to work with. I’m sure YMMV from locale to locale.

Des Walsh January 6, 2011 at 12:10 am

The information about pricing all day training sessions has just proved very valuable in reassuring me about saying no to an offer that involved travel and probably more preliminary research than I wanted to even think about, much less do. It was good to be able to quote, with some confidence, “industry rates” (as a range).

Reflecting on the process, I reminded myself that there is a big difference in, on the one hand, working with people who respect that you have expertise and want to discuss with you how best to use your knowledge and skills to help them, and on the other, a client who has no evident presence in social media being very prescriptive about what they want you to cover and what outcomes they want.

My preference has again been confirmed for working with companies which have already decided that they want to proceed strategically and want guidance in that and may have already dipped their corporate toe in the water, rather than getting stuck in the old “show us the ROI” game. Of course, some may love that stuff – I *used to* enjoy the evangelist role. :)

Diane January 6, 2011 at 7:55 am

Thanks for outlining all of this so clearly and concisely Mack – great post. It would be interesting to follow up with what kind of “guarantees” if any, an outside consultant hired for any of the above would make and what kinds of expectations are realistic.

Mack Collier January 9, 2011 at 12:04 am

Diane that is a very interesting question re: guarantees. I’ve actually offered a money-back guarantee on occasion (and when appropriate), and I have heard of other consultants doing the same.

Diane January 6, 2011 at 7:59 am

One more thing – what kinds of ongoing costs / expertise should companies expect to incur/have in-house, once their social strategy has a good foundation and clear goals in place?

Tonya Johnson January 6, 2011 at 8:17 am


Thank you for a very informative piece. How would these prices adjust, if at all, for a not for profit organization?

Mack Collier January 6, 2011 at 9:03 am

Tonya I think that’s up to the individual consultant or agency. In the past, I have given NPs a break on prices if I can.

Tina Krater January 6, 2011 at 8:57 am

Great article Mack and thanks for sharing! We get a lot of questions from clients inquiring about the costs associated with maintaining their social presence from basic creative designs to complete management so this article will be a helpful reference for many!

Henry January 7, 2011 at 3:21 am

‘Social Media’ Consultants? What a bunch of rip-offs you are. Since when was social media about hiring people to do the work for you, interacting on Twitter and Facebook? Does Lady Gaga or Britney Spears pay someone to tweet for them? Social Media is all about authenticity.

And the prices you charge are high street robbery. Maybe you could justify your fees for training but to run a Twitter account? To set up and run a blog? I don’t have any experience as ‘social media’ consultant and you might have guessed I am not one but I do have a Twitter account and have set up several blogs and I know how little effort goes into setting them up, writing articles and managing them. Unless you publish daily articles on the blog, it shouldn’t cost thousands of dollars per month to run them.

No wonder you lot are all in agreement – it’s all about lining your own pocket.

Mack Collier January 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Henry I think Jay’s comment about most anyone being able to hammer, and not everyone knowing WHERE to hammer is appropriate here. 😉

I also know how to drive a car, but I don’t have a NASCAR contract either.

Davina K. Brewer January 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Henry, I’m gonna chime in with Mack that there’s a difference in DIY and hiring a pro. The time to do something vs. doing it right, doing it well and the benefits that professional expertise can offer, saving time and money. If you are putting “little effort” into setting up your accounts, managing your posts and getting great returns, kudos but that’s an exception. I also think you missed the price ranges, the low end being scalable for small businesses. Buying a Kia vs. an Audi, fitting the needs budget, resources – financial and human – of different companies.

And FWIW, Britney has a SM firm, who manage her profile and Twitter.

Kathryn Lang January 7, 2011 at 7:33 am

When my husband first started mowing lawns, people were AMAZED at how much it cost to get some guy to come in with professional equipment and mow the grass, trim the shrubs and do maintenance or clean up.

The first time my brother offered up his services as a guide for hunting, some people were amazed at how much he was charging for doing what he normally did on weekends anyway.

The cost of creating a strong marketing tool for businesses may seem simple and it may be amazing at how much people pay, but companies hire designated employees all the time to tackle certain jobs: account executives that just work with advertising clients, activities coordinators that plan events and activities to build the unity in the work environment, and the list goes on. It should be no surprise that in this age of technology companies are looking to hire social media directors.

Lee Houghton January 7, 2011 at 9:50 am

Very good article. I find what works for our company is to put it into terms of hiring a full time employee to do the job. When I sit down with a new client I try to determine if they have the necessary resources to do the job, both content and people. I usually start out by letting them know that need to have somebody devote at least 2 hours per day every day. And more hours per day depending on the strategy. Then when you start looking at hiring an employee at four hours per day to eight hours per day plus benefits and burden $2,000 to $4,000 per month starts looking reasonable. I also look at charging per piece for premium content ie, ebooks, white papers, cases studies, etc. and obviously if there is any marketing costs like Facebook ads etc. I add to the top.

Mack Collier January 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Lee you are right, it does add up. It’s like any other area of consulting, it’s not what the consultant is paid, it’s how much money the company saves and/or generates from their advice/training.

Peter L Masters January 8, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi, thanks for the post! All the comments seem positive and grateful apart from one guy, so I guess a lot of people have been wondering about the cost of Social Media development.

To me, the cost to keep everything up to date is the real task and hoping clients have sufficient patience to keep providing interesting and informative content to encourage positive engagement. I hope people don’t expect mega results over night, because I really, really don’t think Social Media is a quick fix for anything and it certainly won’t work miracles for companies that don’t provide good or maybe even great services or products.

Nevertheless, this is the very first article I have read about Social Media development costs and I read a LOT and very often, so you’ve created something quite unique.

Thank you! (I can convert the $’s into £’s!)

Alex Work January 8, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Excellent post… Haven’t read anything else quite like it.

One thing you mentioned will serve companies and organizations particularly well, and that’s too have a good idea of what their goals are with social media. You can see when companies have an incoherent idea of what they want from social media..

Look forward to reading more of your posts :)

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