Budget series pt. 2: How to allocate your paid social budget

Michael Brito

By Michael Brito

November 16, 2017

Social media has revolutionized the way business communicates with their customers. What used to be a top-down, one-way marketing message is now a real-time conversation between brands and their customers. Social media has become a viable marketing approach that can be measured and has the potential to deliver real business results.

But with great opportunity comes great challenge. Every company with a brand message and a marketing budget wants to reach the same audience that you do. Not only does this make social media difficult to produce results, but it also requires you to think through your competitor’s go-to-market strategy.

The way to do this is by creating a social media plan. A plan that includes goals and objectives, a deep understanding of your audience, a content strategy, and more importantly, a budget. 

In part one of this series, we talked about the requirements for planning your paid social budget. Once those are documented and finalized, you'll need to allocate paid social as a specific line item in your budget. In my experience, working with large and small brands, a paid social budget usually accounts for about 10% of the overall marketing budget, which will reach nearly $120 billion by 2021.

Here are three methods that will help you determine how to allocate your paid social budget in a smart way.

Set the right goals

Goals are important. They help you stay aligned and focused.

If you want to drive brand awareness, perhaps you’ll use the share of voice or brand engagement as a data point. If sales are an objective, you’ll want to measure conversions, leads or sales.

Campaigns budgets will always differ based on your goals. In some cases, awareness campaigns may require larger budgets than direct response. In other cases, if your conversions are high and cost-per-responses low, you may decide to poor all of your budget in your direct response campaigns.

In either case, once you solidify your goals, you can start to allocate your paid social budgets accordingly.

Assess previous budgets

Data doesn’t lie. Neither do results. By looking at previous campaigns and assessing the outcomes, you can start to identify trends in what you’re spending and make the right adjustments.

For example, if a previous campaign exceeded expectations and delivered a surplus of conversions, as an example, you’ll want to ensure that you apply the same strategy, content, and budget. This doesn’t mean that you should just put your campaigns on cruise control. You’ll still need to monitor the results daily and optimize as needed.

Research your competition

Unfortunately, there’s aren’t any tools that will tell you exactly what your competition is spending in paid social. However, if you spend some time researching their social content, you will be able to get a general idea of their strategy.

Are they driving leads, posting general news or creating shareable content in order to engage with the community? These are questions that you'll need to find answers to. If you have access to a social listening platform, you can get a more granular view and see more specific data points like competitor clicks, impressions, and engagement.

Final thoughts

2018 is right around the corner. And there is no specific formula for budgeting your paid social spend.

Every company has different goals, resources, and expectations of their social media strategy. What's important is that you think strategically about your goals, take a look at previous campaign results and research your competitors. Doing so will give you the information you need to make smart budgeting decisions. 

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