How To Manage Small, Medium and Large Social Media Budgets

How To Manage Small, Medium and Large Social Media Budgets

In a world where marketing is the first department to be cut, social media budgets can be few and far between. Having worked everywhere from a $25K budget to a $9M dollar budget, I know how tough it can be to decide where to allocate funds. Should you put more spend behind paid ads? Or should you hire a full-time employee to do community management? Should you buy a software such as Sprout Social so you can produce timely, relevant reports? Or should you spend that money on new creatives for your ads? Allocating funds is not an easy task in the social media space, but hopefully some of my experiences will help you decide where to direct the most spend.


Tips For A Small Budget ($100K and under)


  • The top three things a social media team needs to operate successfully are:

    • One full-time diversified employee

      • This means NOT a new college-grad, but someone who is experienced enough to do content creation, community management, community management and every social task in between with little to no supervision.

    • A Social Media Tool

      • I just came from a project where they refused to invest in a social media tool. This means ALL posts and ads were manually published and all reporting was manually pulled into Excel files and then manually put into pretty graphs and PPT presentations. This ate up so much time that less focus was given to the actual ads. A social media tool is absolutely necessary to run social media.

      • Sprout Social and HootSuite are my two favorites when it comes to social media tools and they have affordable options for all budget points.

    • A Photo Editing Tool

      • Canva is forever my favorite and you can get it for as little as $12. When I ran social for the non-profit, Anti-Defamation League, Canva was literally our saving grace. We had to produce content the minute a news story broke, which meant we were often times on our phone creating images for social and the web site. Canva saved our lives. It immediately will make your one full-time employee a graphic design star.


Tips For A Medium Budget ($1M and below) 


  • Recommendations:

    • Two additional full-time employees, which will make your team structured as follows:

      • Social Media Manager: Oversees strategy development, operations, budget

        • Social Media Coordinator: Creates graphics and copy, publishes to all channels, helps the community manager moderate 

          • Community Manager: Moderates and responds to comments online, reports on what consumers are saying online, reports on trends

    • An Advanced Social Media Tool

      • Investment in a tool that excels in reporting, social listening, publishing and customer service is a must. I’ve done multiple RFPs for large companies and HootSuite has always come out the top winner. I highly recommend checking them out.

    • Social Media Spend

      • I have found the happy spot to be 20% spend on boosted organic posts and 80% spend behind paid ads. 

      • We are now in an era where you need to boost every single piece of organic content you publish, or .01% of your fans will see it.


Tips For A Large Budget (Over $1M)


  • Five person team structured as follows:

    • Social Media Director: Oversees strategy, operations, budget

      • Social Media Manager: Develops social media strategy, ensures all content stays on strategy, owns editorial calendar

        • Social Media Customer Service Manager: Responds only to customer service questions online

          • Social Media Coordinator: Helps develop creative, publishes content, manages social media tool and reporting

            • Community Manager: Moderates and responds to comments online that are outside the scope of customer service, creates social listening reports, helps coordinator manage the social media tool

    • A Social Media Tool + Ad Management

      • HootSuite (sorry, I am obsessed!) offers an incredible ad management service that provides you with on-the-spot answers to all of your ad questions and your own personal ad strategist who reviews your ads once a week and provides feedback. I recommend in investing in all of the bells and whistles of a tool if you are going to have a large spend on social.

    • Social Media Spend

      • Some 80/20 split as mentioned above, with more focus on how the ad spend is spent. I have found that Campaign Budget Optimization is the best. You will need to play around with which option under CBO works the best for your brand. I have found Bid Cap to work best for recent campaigns. 

        • Once an ad is under-performing in CBO, pull it out and start a new campaign. 

        • When an ad is over-performing in CBO, increase the spend of the campaign. 

        • Use 70% video and 30% static imagery at first to see which performs the best with your audience.

        • Also make sure to not cap your CBO until the learning phase is complete. This will help you understand what the average cost per lead or acquisition is for your brand on Facebook.

    • Third-Party Audiences

      • Don’t rely on Facebook’s audience developer alone. Purchase third-party audiences for your brand so you can have a large broad audience to target. This will help you understand the audience that is converting for your brand.

    • Creative Agency

      • If you have creatives in-house, awesome. Skip this step. If you don’t, I recommend putting some of that budget behind hiring an agency that focuses specifically on social media content. If you are putting millions behind ads, you want them to be 100 percent on-par.

    • Extend Your Strategy To Executives And Employee Advocacy 

      • Now that you have the budget for a larger team, you have the bandwidth to focus on more projects, The top two most effective projects you can implement right away are taking over the C-Suite’s social media and training employees on how to express your brand on social media.

        • C-Suite Social Media

        • Employee Advocacy 

          • Start with a call with Dynamic Signal. They are a leading software company that has helped me set-up to successful employee advocacy programs at Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the Anti-Defamation League. I’ve seen social media engagement increase as high as 500 percent for a brand, just from implementing an employee advocacy program. You can read more about the benefits of an employee advocacy program here: How To Supercharge Content Creation With Employee Advocacy.



I’m not saying that any of the large budget items can’t be done with a low budget. I started one of my employee advocacy programs with a $24,650 budget. Two-thirds of that budget went towards the employee advocacy tool alone. At the time, I knew the brand I was working with had enough creative donors, lay leaders and employees to create content within the program. I took a risk, believing that having the program in place would help us with the issue of having no graphic designers or copywriters on the team. I was right. This is the same program that boosted the brand’s engagement by 500% across social media within its first month of implementation. 


So play around with these different areas and decide what is most important to you as a brand and what you can afford. I do not believe that social media can be run on a zero-dollar budget, but I do believe that there are incredibly successful social media campaigns that have been run on nearly invisible budget because the social media manager knew what they were doing.


Do you have any tips or comments on how to run a budget for social? Leave them in the comments below!


-Marji Dupuis

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