It's coming up to that time again. No matter if you're client side or agency side, 2015 budgets are hugely important.
For agencies, it means a time of great change. Some clients may leave as their budgets are reduced, or priorities changes. And for those in-house, there will no doubt be an awful lot of meetings and long hours spent deciding how to spend the marketing budget in 2015.
It's a long process, and one that isn't very fun for most people concerned. One big question for 2015, that will be asked in many boardrooms in the coming weeks is "What proportion of my marketing budget should I attribute to social media this year?" Whilst there's no right or wrong answer, this article will give you a few big points to look at and some tips for helping get your 2015 budget right.
Items To Budget
On the social side of marketing, there's a few core areas where you need to focus your attentions when budgeting.
Firstly, you need to look at tools. You may already have a number of tool subscriptions that you are renewing, or you may be looking for new tools. Most companies now use at least some tools - whether they're social analytics tools, content scheduling tools, customer service & management tools, or social advertising tools. All of these come at a cost, and some of them really do add up.
Think hard about which tools you see the most value from and prioritise them in your budgeting process. These should be the ones that you can't live without.
Next, you need to think about content strategy and creation. We all know that social content doesn't write itself, no matter which brand you are or what kind of business you represent. Everyone needs content, and this should always be based on a content strategy. You'll need to decide if you're going to resource this intensive work with staff or an agency, and budget accordingly. You want to be planning for unique content creation across all relevant channels where you can.
The third main area is your budget for social advertising. Your social advertising strategy might cover a number of elements, including content amplification (getting more reach in the news feed with sponsored Tweets or promoted Facebook posts), campaign style ads (to try to drive sales, leads or other business goals), and social growth campaigns to build your audience on the various channels. Social advertising continues to improve in terms of campaign performance, and more and more advertisers are increasing their spend levels year on year. Advertising needs to be a key part of your social marketing budget next year.
How To Distribute Spend
The key, as always, comes back to return on investment. Hopefully your company has been smart and has been tracking return on investment across your social media marketing campaigns over the last 12 months or longer. If so, this will make it easy for you to make data led decisions about how you should split your marketing budget.
If not, then there is going to be a little more work needed. To start with, you'll need to delve through your data to try to calculate your return on investment from social. Social ROI should breakdown as a total figure, but also on organic content and advertising driven ROI to let you see how each element is performing in isolation.
There's a number of other factors to consider too. For example, your tools vs staff costs. We try to stick to Avinash Kaushik's golden rule if you spend 10% of your budget on tools, you should spend 90% on good people to make the most of those tools. People are your most valuable asset, whether they be in-house or as part of your extended team on the agency side. Data from tools is great, but you need to ensure that you make the most of it. Start this process by considering which tools you actually make valuable use of and work from there in terms of which people are most valuable in driving savings or returns from those tools.
Social vs. Other Channels
As with any other element of your budget, social media needs to have an allocation and this needs to be justified on performance. For some businesses this is harder for social than others. However, you need to look at the wider benefits of social. Ideally you'll be seeing a strong, direct ROI from your social media efforts. But, remember to also factor in your customer service cost savings, brand awareness benefits, and the role of social in conversion paths. One way to help with this is to use the multi-channel funnels data in Google Analytics to see the role that social media plays in your overall business goals.
Try to break your social media budget down by month, quarter, and of course have a total spend figure in mind. Break this down across the three key areas proposed above and you'll be in a much better position to measure your efforts in the coming year.
We know it's a bit of a nightmare to create your marketing budget, and especially how to allocate budget to social.
To help with this process, we've created a free 2015 marketing budget template for everyone to download. This has over 40 areas of potential spend, and might just save you a little time when it comes to starting your marketing budget for next year! Download the template here.