Breaking news: Social media is not free. Sure, Twitter and Facebook and a slew of other social networking platforms don’t cost anything to sign up. But they do steal your time and energy.

A recent infographic outlines the specific costs associated with implementing social media in an organization. From staffing costs to advertising campaigns to tracking tools, it all adds up.

The Price of Social Media

The infographic summarizes stats from a variety of sources, including Social Media Today,, eMarketer, Bonsai Interactive and Inner Architect. The total estimated cost totals $210,600. In the general scheme of things, it’s not an outrageous amount, considering that many of the costs include one-time fees, such as micro sites and mobile apps. As well, it does factor in the salary of a social media strategist. Of course, for organizations that are still under the impression that itcan implement a successful social media campaign without a dedicated staff or without investing in social media essentials, $210,600 will seem like a lot.


The Real Cost of Social Media also outlines the benefits bestowed upon companies who invest in social media. Fortunately, it seems as if social media may be worth the time and money spent. According to a survey conducted by eMarketer, 85% of U.S. marketing executives said that the main benefit of social media was customer engagement. Direct customer communications (65%), speed of feedback (59.9%) and learning customer preferences (59.1%) also ranked among the perceived top benefits.

Your Customers' Worth

But what is the value of a Facebook fan or Twitter follower. While there may not be a standard formula, the infographic estimates that Facebook fans spent an additional $71.84 on products of which they are fans, compared to those who aren’t.

  • Fans are 28% more likely than non-fans to continue using that brand, while fans are 41% more likely than non-fans to recommend a “fanned” product to their friends.
  • For Twitter, an account with 33,000 followers requires a monthly investment of $2,382 to receive a monthly return of $1,667. In essence, a follower costs $1.67 per month, but is valued at $2.38.

Invest Wisely

Of course, the true cost of social media depends on the size of your company, your customers and the size and reach of the campaign created. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that a social media campaign for smaller company with few customers is less valuable than a larger, more successful company. Ultimately, a company’s social media success depends on what value the company itself provides to its customers. Having a social media campaign doesn’t automatically do anything. You must ensure that you are offering incentives and information that customers want in a manner that is easy and convenient to access.

Ultimately, any organization that wants to reap the benefits and rewards of social media must invest significantly and seriously in resources. If you invest less than you should, your results will be only half as good as they could be.