Earlier we reported that companies are getting more serious about social media and plan to expand their efforts. What exactly does that mean for social media budgets?

More Social, More Money

According to a poll from Effie Worldwide and Mashable the majority of marketers (70%) are planning to increase their social media budget by more than 10% this year. Much of that spending will go toward trying to find new Facebook fans, which 35% of respondents said is their main goal this year. Others plan on increasing their presence on mobile.

The poll also found that companies are using a plethora of methods to ensure that they maximize their social spending. Half of the ad agency executives and marketers surveyed said that their clients plan to use a mix of in-house and agency to handle social media outreach. As well, companies are eager to capitalize on the iPad, as 80% are planning iPad-based advertising and/or an iPad-based app this year.

Probably the most telling is that 87% said social media was “important” or “very important” to achieving their biggest marketing goal this year. Yet, saying and doing are two different things. As well, we’ll also be eager to see what kinds of returns these types of investments bring companies.

More Time, More Engagement

So why does social media seem to benefit small businesses so much? 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report showed that the businesses that invested more time in social media saw more results. By investing in relationships, small businesses must invest many hours per week, over a long stretch of time, to see social media’s true benefit.

The report found that 52 percent of marketers who spent 6 hours a week engaging in social media saw lead generation benefits and that 45 percent of marketers who have been in social media for 12 months or less created new partnerships as a result of their interactions. For small businesses who yearn to be big, this study may set the benchmark for social media engagement. Of course, social media success isn’t just about time, it also requires good content.

When it comes to expanding budgets for social media, promoting your presence across multiple platforms is necessary, but don’t forget about how much time costs. Be sure to budget for the time it costs to invest fully in the social media experience.