Key Considerations For A Social Media Agency’s Client Pricing

One of the most repeated questions I get from social media agencies, small social media consultants and virtual assistants is the question of price for social media services to clients. I have tried to stay away from writing about the topic because it is such a subjective topic. There are so many variables that go into pricing a social media program for a client and budget is only one of them!

The intent of this post is to better outline some of the key factors in determining pricing for your agency clients. I will start by discussing a highly connected issue that I am also asked on occasion. This is going to be one of my longer blog posts and for that I am sorry. I don’t like long blog posts either, but the subject matter is detailed so hang in there with me.

Connected Issue:  Should we publish our social media pricing on our website?

Absolutely NOT!  Why?  Here’s my perspective on this:

1) you already have competition, don’t make it easy on them, by giving them your prices.

2) Average users online typically shop price even though they do not understand the major differences between services being provided.

3) People do business with people they connect with. Drive your prospects to a phone call consultation. Your social media services website can’t close business for you.

4) Every social media client/business/product is different. Cookie cutter activity, strategy and pricing will not be effective.

5) Most Important: Your main competition for new clients will come from the large online social media mills. (think puppy mills) Those on or offshore providers that churn and burn poor unsuspecting souls into useless social media programs that post crap once per day on twitter and facebook for $100/mo. and will never achieve any returns. For the business owner that does not understand social media marketing best practices and relationship building, they will see your price and the mills price and not even call to get more information. In short - Effective social media management and marketing is not a price compare game…

Next lets get into those key factors you need to consider when developing pricing for a clients social media marketing program.

Key Considerations When Developing Your Social Media Pricing:

Client Size: Are you dealing with a small, medium or large client. What are the differences in community building, targeting, finding for each. What size community will that require to be effective and how much resources are needed to properly engage with that community.

Number of Social Accounts: When speaking with a client and understanding their industry, geographic and demographic market, you will need to determine what social networks they need to be engaged in. In other words, where is your clients target market spending their time in the social graph. Based on the social networks that your clients audience is engaged in, you will determine which and how many social networks they need to have a presence in. Conversely, if they already have a social media presence, take into consideration the number of accounts you will need to be posting to and managing daily for community growth and engagement.

How Niche Is Their Industry/Target Market: This is probably more overlooked in pricing than anything else in our industry. The more niche a client is, the more competitive their space is and the more unique their offering is, the more time and resources their social media marketing will require. Do not make the mistake of NOT considering this in the client pricing structure.

Content Strategy: Based on the clients business, what is the content strategy that needs to be deployed. Content type, frequency of posting, etc. This can be dramatically different from one client to the next. >>> More on Posting Frequency

Time/Resource Requirements:  In general, what are the time, personnel and tool requirements for the client. Consider the other above factors and the more or less time you will need based on this clients uniqueness.

Collaboration Needs: Another over looked component is client collaboration. Will you need to be getting content from the client daily, weekly, etc. Will they have specials that will need to be formatted and posted frequently. Will you have to be chasing the client for this content, etc. Restaurants, as an example will need to have collaboration involvement with you. They are notorious for being busy and requiring more time and attention, especially related to collaboration. >>> More on Restaurants

Are there more considerations that should be considered in your social media price? Sure, probably hundreds. I just feel that these are the key factors you should minimally take into account.

So the big question is, what should pricing be? I would say for the smaller, less complex and local clients, you should be priced between $500-$700 per month. For larger, more complex, national clients, you should be between $800-$1,500 per month. All of this depends on the key considerations we discussed above. A more regional mid-sized business or a B to B social media client might be somewhere in the middle. >>> More on Proposals

From here there is the question of setup fees, but this is an entire post in and of itself. We will address that on another blog post.

The point is, there is no one size fits all pricing structure for a social media management program, or at least I do not subscribe to that idea based on our experience. Every client and program should be different in order to maximize results. Considering the key factors of a program should improve your pricing structure and net profitability for your agency.

*MORE - For an in depth 5 Part series on how to pitch a social media management program to a prospective client, including a proposal template, Read This Series: Important Elements of A Social Media Agency Proposal – Part 1-5

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post

25 Comments

Filed under Agency, Social Media, Social Media Content, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Social Media ROI, Strategy, Uncategorized

25 responses to “Key Considerations For A Social Media Agency’s Client Pricing

  1. Good insight and I/we are guilty in the fact we do share a basic pricing schedule. However what I have found is that it gets the conversation going in the right direction! they need it and can not afford not to play!

    • Yes Randy, but how many are not even calling you because they found something posted cheaper somewhere else?

      • Good point and one we considered! However I think that most, just like before they go to the doctor self diagnose and already have some idea of the level of price tolerance. We compete in the small to medium market, price presure is tough, if they can find it less than we offer then go get ‘em. If they want our basic serviice then it is x and we will wow ‘em to move then into a stronger partnership with creditability…

      • The problem is that you will never know and can’t combat the price/service difference if you give them everything they need to make a decision…

      • true… but as I said the only price we publish is a basic “loss leader.” Does not give them everything but we do think it gives them an invitation to transparncey. It is true someone can beat us on the published price offering but we can…

  2. This may have been a bit long, but after reading through it, it helps so much to understand the manner in which SM works. On the other side of SM I would have named this post “Things to consider when hiring an agency”. I think that often price is skewed or misunderstood because the potential clients lacks the understanding of what actually goes into providing the service. Great writing! Elizabeth

  3. Jocelyn Wilhelm

    I don’t publish my fees on my website either. The services I provide are custom designed for each client. I like the range you came up with. As some businesses may require something simple while others a bit more complex. Also, most of my clients have chosen me because of the relationships we’ve built, pricing second. I think that makes for a better mutual arrangement too. Great article Robert!

  4. Carolyn

    Great article because coming up with a pricing structure/freelance rates is always tough!

  5. I already expressed my love and appreciation for this post on Twitter, but again, thank you, this is very helpful!

  6. What an amazing post.I like it.Thanks for sharing it

  7. Great info …post was very insightful…Thank You

  8. Great post Robert. When we initially launched we had a pricing structure over the course of the past two years we learned that there is no one size fit all solution and it truly depends on the clients needs and resources.

  9. Robert,

    Thanks for sharing your insight on this topic.

    I’ll say that I, at one time, did publish packages with prices on my website. This wasn’t very effective. I also feel now that I’ve been working in this position for long enough to know that I’ve made a myriad of mistakes and learned from them.

    I do have a “general picture” of what service *may include* for clients listed – Without pricing. I find this gets a conversation started, and the client has a way of knowing what ball park they are playing in.

    To date, not one of my clients is on a plan that is or was specifically outlined on my site. That’s because, indeed, each client is different as well as every goal. Clearly every client requires a customized approach!

    I placed a form on my service page to give people not already connected with me in another way a place that leads to setting up a phone call, bringing them closer. Still experimenting with this.

    You phrased under the ‘How Niche Industry/Target Market’: “Do not make the mistake of considering this in the client pricing structure.” Maybe I misunderstand or mis-read. But I think if there is a specific niche with a new or unique target market more time & effort is required and that SHOULD be considered.

    Again, I appreciate your helpfulness, and hope I’ve offered something above for others to learn from.

    ~Keri

  10. I learned this early seeing competitors post “packages”, aren’t each clients needs different prompting different pricing. I started to require a consultation to determine needs and then I get back to them with a plan and price. Many seem to appreciate the “extra” time and effort.

    One place that I think many miss, and I am guilty as well is your point on niche markets. Some targets are going to take quite a bit more work and time, meaning more cost. I learned this one the hard way….

    Nice job

    • Gerry, you are so right. Niche industries and clients products are the biggest time factor agencies overlook. Quite a bit more work and time is perfectly stated!

      Thanx for the input buddy

  11. This is an excellent post Robert! And this is the first time I’ve seen this subject tackled in an expert manner. Thank you!

  12. IMO, this can depend on what you offer and your target audience. Without sharing a small amount of detail on pricing up front, I constantly get calls from businesses/entrepreneurs that don’t have budget to afford my services. I target medium-to-large companies and funded start-ups, and sharing a little bit of detail about pricing pre-qualifies my leads by ruling out those seeking entry-level services. Whether through pricing or other methods (such as website copy), it is very important to share enough information to pre-screen out inquiries that aren’t a fit. The wrong leads can eat up quite a bit of time better spent elsewhere.

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