It may only be early October but requests are streaming in for 2015 budget projections and counsel. Budgeting for social media is a complex task as it continues to shift quite drastically from year to year and 2015 will be no different. Setting aside dollars for an agency or in-house social media coordinator to execute the work is just the beginning of the story. Teams must now plan for the hard costs of boosting posts, Twitter and LinkedIn advertising, visual asset creation and more. A line item should also exist for ongoing social media and digital training via webinars or conference attendance.
Within the online marketing space, I have also observed that budgeting for blogger/ambassador programs is a grey area causing confusion often leading to an under-allocation of funds. Based on several blogger and ambassador programs GFM has executed this year, we suggest keeping the following points top-of-mind when working on 2015 budgets for such programs.
- Invest in the time it takes to build a strong and authentic foundation. Identifying relevant and credible bloggers for your brand to approach does not happen overnight. It’s imperative that you read recent posts, scan the “About Me” sections to get a grasp on who they are as a person and scour their blogroll if they have one to stumble upon other likeminded bloggers who may not have come up in earlier searches.
- Determine what you can do for each blogger, rather than what they can do for you. If your company offers a product or service this tends to be easier. While strictly adhering to FTC disclosure deadlines, decide if offering a product to review and keep is sufficient or if you should design a program to showcase a service and create reader incentives, such as additional giveaways and discounts. Be sure to account for product and service giveaways and discounts as you budget annually.
- Allocate additional budget for priority blog partnerships that may require an additional sponsored post or collaboration fee. This can get tricky as every blogger approaches sponsorships quite differently. But if your budget can withstand a “slush fund” for sponsored blog posts, estimate about $300 – $500 per blogger for one-off collaborations and upwards of $2,000 or more for long-term ongoing content creation contracts. These figures can vary greatly based on your targets, geography and the “ask” of the blogger. Investing in step #1 above can help you drill down to a firmer budget estimate as well.
Blogger relations have evolved drastically since marketers first began engaging with these citizen journalists approximately 10 years ago. Creating relevant, beautiful content is no easy task and credible bloggers deserve to be treated with the same respect some PR pros still reserve for traditional media only.
Brands certainly do not need to give away the farm, but they must understand that getting blog coverage isn’t free. Even when no money is exchanged the best blog outreach efforts come from a significant investment in time and research. Let’s work together to be stronger brand partners to bloggers who can help move the proverbial needle in 2015!
When she’s not overseeing blogger relations for GFM clients, Alexis blogs personally at Lex & Learn about motherhood and healthy living and is active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.