We often receive this question from our clients, particularly as everyone is locking down their 2018 budgets: How much should we budget for social media advertising?
The short answer is that there is no short answer. A simple Google search for “how much should I spend on social media advertising” will provide results that range from industry averages to advertising as a percentage of your overall social media marketing budget. The problem with those figures and averages is that they don’t consider your business’ unique needs and/or budget at this moment (or for the first quarter or first half of 2018).
Here are some questions to consider as you think about social media advertising and your 2018 marketing budget:
Does social media advertising make sense for your business right now?
Prioritize your marketing efforts first and identify the “low hanging fruit” opportunities that meet your immediate needs and provide the most efficient return on investment. If SEO, packaging design, public relations or other functions are a bigger priority in 2018 there is nothing that says you MUST advertise on social platforms.
Where are your customers online and what are they doing?
Simply saying, “we need to advertise on Facebook” isn’t a strategy, it’s merely a hunch. Spend the time up front to truly understand who your audiences are, where they are active online, and how they will likely engage with your brand. If you have the budget for advertising on social platforms, this exercise will help inform where and how often you should be advertising, and better yet, it will be a great starting point for your creative and messaging.
What are the key dates for your 2018 marketing efforts?
It rarely makes sense to allocate a consistent monthly budget toward social media advertising. Unlike paid search ads or programmatic/display advertising, which are based on users proactively searching for relevant terms or visiting relevant websites, social media ads are served up in users’ feeds – where they may not have been actively looking for your product/service at that moment. Identify your product launch dates, sales cycles, holidays or similar and focus your ad spend on those times rather than consistently spending.
What are you trying to achieve?
This is where the rubber meets the road regarding how much you should be spending. Are you better served focusing on reach/exposure/community building, or are you looking for specific conversions/actions? Conversions typically cost more than ads focused on reach or exposure. Plan accordingly – and take advantage of existing tools like Facebook’s Audience Insights, which will help you narrow in on projected advertising budgets.
Finally, if 2018 is your first foray into social media advertising, don’t forget that the beauty of social media is the ability to test, learn and revise without incurring huge costs. Utilize a small budget to test audience targeting, creative/messaging and results, then modify your efforts accordingly.