Budgeting a Brand’s Social Media Hub
Creating a central communications hub is an integral part of an effective digital presence and social media strategy. We know what we want, we know the theory. But, how do we execute it?
I put together an outline that gives you an idea of how much a social media hub can cost.
A few things we’re assuming. The first being that your social media hub has a blog of some sort and uses WordPress as the CMS (I like WordPress because it’s simple, search friendly, and easily customizable). Secondly, we’re assuming that you have no in-house resources and everything is being outsourced.
Hosting and Installation
The first thing you’ll have to do is figure out where your hub will be hosted, what servers it will live on. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy since Worpdress offers VIP hosting for large businesses.
If you have a large brand that will get a lot of traffic, VIP hosting is great because it can handles a lot of visitors. The cost is pretty expensive though. There is a $1500 setup fee, followed by a $500 monthly fee.
Generally, most hosts will help you install WordPress or have a one-click installation solution.
Once you know where your social media hub lives, you need to make it look pretty. If you have an internal art director, this might be easy since they can dictate look and feel. If not, you’ll be at the mercy of your designers and developers, don’t skimp here.
Generally, a custom WordPress theme can range anywhere from $3000 to $10000+. The reason why the range is so large is because it depends on exactly what you want.
Things that might increase the cost include: who you are (big brands will pay more), custom post-types (images instead of text), advanced integrations (connecting the blog to your CRM or aggregating social media platforms into the feed).
If you’re looking for a great designer definitely check out Circ.us. I’ve worked with them in the past and love what they can do – want someone to project manage and consult on the process? Let’s talk! If you have a company you recommend, definitely leave a comment and share their info.
Now that the basics are in place, the next step is integrating our social media profiles to create a real social media hub.
Integrations can be as simple as creating a call to action to connect the blog and social media through a basic link. This integration is extremely simple and should already be part of your design cost.
More advanced integrations can become expensive. An example would be adding Facebook connect so users can comment using their Facebook account or using Buddypress to create your own social network. Either way, depending on how imaginative you can be – set aside another $5000 for the bells and whistles.
The vessel has been created and it is beautiful. The time has come to fill it. This means creating content, images, and videos. Some of this can be done by your current staff, but at some point you’ll need to grow. Maintaining an effective social media hub requires a lot of content and means the brand needs to think as a publisher.
One way to do that is to outsource a lot of the content to freelance copywriters. You’ll probably pay around $100 per article, with a chance for better rates from volume.
Those that are really serious about their content might pull out all the stops and hire an editorial team. Some brands are hiring editors, photographers, and writers. They are creating editorial calendars and treating their hubs as branded magazines.
This strategy is extremely effective, but also expensive. I can’t really give you an estimated cost for this, since it really depends on who you hire. Suffice it to say, you’ll be spending at least $50k a year.
Consultation and Advice
Getting your social media hub up and running is only half the battle. Now you need to figure out what you want to do with it and make sure you’re getting the most from it. To do this, you’ll need help in two aspect: digital communications and search engine optimizations (SEO).
A digital communications agency (PR firm or social media agency) should help you create your editorial calendar and identify content that resonates with your community. You’ll also want them to work with your SEO agency to create metrics to monitor and identify campaign optimizations.
The second area, SEO, is an extremely important aspect. Most design and development firms understand the basics, but only a specialized SEO consultant can ensure your site is capturing all the potential search volume.
Generally, you can expect to pay at least $3000 a month for digital communications consulting and another $3000 a month for SEO consulting. It’s important to note that your SEO firm can and should help during the development phase of your hub. Also, there are many marketing and PR firms that are capable of doing both – recommending a digital strategy and making SEO recommendations.
Upkeep and Maintenance
Once everything is set and going along, it’s important to continue optimizing the site and maintaining the hub. Every few months, WordPress updates their software and should be updated on your installation.
The blog software is easy to update, but depending on the customization, themes, or plugins might need to be updated as well. In an instance like that, the developer would have to update their code as WordPress is updated.
Generally, upkeep and maintenance shouldn’t be very expensive, possibly another $500/month.
Total Budget Breakdown
WordPress VIP Hosting Initial Cost: $1500
Design and Installation: $5000
Advanced Integrations: $5000
SEO Consultation (3 Months): $3000 x 3
Communications Consulting (3 Months): $3000 x 3
Original Content Creation: $3000
Total Initial Cost: $38,000
VIP Hosting Monthly: $500
Monthly Maintenance: $500
Content Creation: $5000
Total Monthly Cost: $6000
What are your thoughts on the budget breakdown? Does this fall within your budgeting? Has your brand blog / hub been able to recoup this type of expenditure online? Are you tracking the ROI on your blog?