Travel and leisure marketing: Are you budgeting enough for your social media program?

Social media costs less, but takes more time.

Our research indicates most travel and leisure brands are spending between 10-15% of their total online budget on social media.

How much should you budget for your social media program?”

  • The good news: a robust social media program can cost just 11-14% of your digital budget. That’s a fraction of the average cost of a TV campaign produced in LA or New York.
  • The not so good news: Social media takes a lot of time, whether you’re paying an in-house person or an outside agency to do it.

Cost of In-House Resources Versus Outside Contractors

  • If you’re relying on existing in-house resources to get your social media program off the ground, the general rule of thumb is to start by budgeting for one full-time employee.
  • That person will be responsible for creating content and overseeing the design of your blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed as well as write any e-books and online presentations.

Salary Ranges for Social Media Managers

  • The salary range for this in-house position can run from $32,500-$55,000 for a social media manager or community manager, although a Director or VP can earn 3 times that.

Components of Your Social Media Budget

Your budget should account for three phases of social media spending:

1. Strategy and Planning

  • In this phase, budget for time to research tools, identify outside contractors who can help you develop your social media strategy and tactics, and staff time to interact with your contractors.
  • Don’t forget to account for the time and expenses necessary to promote your new social sites through your existing media campaign.

2. Campaign Launch

  • Budget for in-house staff hours and outside contractors to design and develop your blog, design a skin for your Twitter page, and populate your Facebook page with content.
  • You’ll also want to account for the cost of implementing tools for listening to and growing your fan base and Twitter followers.

3. Ongoing Support

  • After you launch, you’ll want to budget for staff and contractor time for creating ongoing content and promotions, and refreshing the design of your blog and Twitter skin.
  • In addition, you’ll want to keep up with the ever evolving technology tools to monitor your audience and to keep adding friends and followers.
  • Because social media is moving so fast, you may also want to budget for your staff to attend at least one annual conference on the latest tools and tips.

Total Costs for Your Social Media Strategy

  • A recent Marketing Sherpa study found that on average, participants spend 11% of their total online/digital marketing budgets on social media.
  • The IT Services Marketing Association polled its members and found that B to B marketers are spending 14% of their online/digital marketing budgets on social.
  • An e-Marketer survey broke those numbers down further and found that 60% of social spending is for in-house salaries, while 40% goes to outside agencies, consultants and service providers.

That’s what we’ve learned about budgeting for social media in leisure marketing.  How does that compare to what you’re doing?



3 Responses to Travel and leisure marketing: Are you budgeting enough for your social media program?

  1. Adam Sue says:

    This is a great post. Keep it up! Hope to read more of this on your site

    Search Engine Marketing Agency

  2. You also gotta keep in mind that if you hire someone in house, they sometimes need to work off hours. A lot of people are tweeting before and after work, and your sm specialist has to be ready to engage them.

    • 5to9branding says:

      It’s certainly ideal to monitor your Twitter feed 24/7/365. But if you don’t have the resources to do this, I have also observed travel & leisure brands clearly state the hours their Twitter stream is “open for business”, which gives them permission to go dark and gives their staff permission to have a personal life.

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