What Kind Of Budget Should You Use In Social Media Planning?

One of the most difficult questions to ask a client is what their budget for a particular project could be tasked to social media.  This isn't just for social media, as the fear the client has is giving you a number and not getting the best value for their money.

I can understand this, but the truth is if your client doesn't trust you to do a good job with their money, then you shouldn't be at a proposal stage, especially for results-oriented social business.  Social projects aren't similar to SEO or websites or television campaigns.  They're based on large-scale adoption from a target audience (b2b, b2c, person-to-person).  To create that kind of change, you have to have the trust of your client and knowledge of their company.  At least, if you actually plan to make a difference.

I've been a social media consultant for business for five years now.  My company has worked with companies big, small and micro, and when you add in the headhunting, you get a spread of experience unique to the field.  I still believe that 80% of "social media consultants" have never taken a check, and the majority of the rest are glorified copywriters, but all that means is the talent pool for change making social media projects is still very shallow.

The challenge is not with the tools. Facebook is different than direct mail, but the results desired are the same.  Solve a problem. Boost sales.  Cut costs.  Improve the company image so we can solve problems, boost sales, and cut costs because we are trusted.  Hire more people.  Give customers access to the information and people they want to talk to.  Impress the media.  Those are the metrics you should be looking for, and they directly correspond to the budgets you're trying to tease out of your client.

So here's a little primer to help you.  This works primarily with small companies with a website and some kind of personal contact needed for a sale. 


    Social media strategies have to be tied into something bigger than social.  I've always liked to connect them to SEO budgets.  It's a small company focus, but considering the way the web has splintered the attention of prospects, the best strategy is to be everywhere they are. 

Identify the organic SEO budget of your client (especially if they're small), and focus on either improving results or gaining visual share of the first page of SERP's.  If your client is paying $500 a month, compare their current results with what you're promising.  In many cases, if they're only paying $500, you can equal or better the results.

If they're paying thousands and the SEO company is good, you can work into a portion of the budget or base your fees on your results versus the SEO company.  A bonus to this pricing strategy is you're working against SEO companies today, but will be hired by them tomorrow.  Social is the next step for SEO.  If comprehensive search actually means anything, it's a natural progression. Gain the skills to show in video, pictures, business, organic, instant, and other searches, and SEO companies will work with you to provide a consistent package to their clients.

Most important, you've identified your offering as a result, instead of an hourly basis. You want to get off the hourly billing as quickly as possible.  That's fine for established industries, but social is new.  Hourly is just a way to limit your fees to your labor.  Think to the result, and you'll command a stronger profit margin.


John Dvorak Insults SEO Consultants

If your read much in the technology space, you've probably read something from John Dvorak.  He's a well known columnist that writes for publications like PC magazine, and his latest effort takes aim at SEO, calling its proponents the modern day equivalent of "snake oil saleman."

Search engine optimization (SEO) has turned into a big business, and from what I can tell it's the modern version of snake oil. The unproven nonsense spewed by so-called "SEO experts" simply doesn't work. And worse, it's screwing up the elegance of the Web.

I'm going to take the high road, and not point out that PCMag uses those incredibly annoying tags over common words (screwing up the elegance of his column), but his main beef is he took his Wordpress blog and converted it from the short form, using numbers to denote entries, to the long form, which uses words in the title url.

Traffic fell on his site from 1.2 million to 900,000 pageviews that month, and it took him several months to recover.  He thus concludes that long url's are a scam.  He also tags his pages, and doesn't see a rise in traffic, and concludes tags are a scam.

I'm not an SEO expert.  I get pretty good results without the help of PC magazine sending traffic my way, but no one is paying me $200,000 a quarter to drive traffic.  I know people like that, and they're worth every penny. I also know people who charge $100, $1000, and everywhere in between, and they get some different results.  There are a lot of snake oil salesman in the business; some liars, some underinformed, and some 5 years behind the times, but there also earnest practitioners who can improve your website traffic results.  In the case of John Dvorak, this column turns out be complete and utter foolishness.  It's not nice to call out people, but Dvorak just misses the boat and makes a complete fool of himself.

John. You altered the architecture of your site.  Anytime you alter the architecture of your site in a wholesale manner, you're going to affect your site traffic.  You basically removed hundreds of pages (maybe thousands) that had been indexed, and replaced them with new pages.  What did you think was going to happen?  All major site changes have effects on your traffic.  It happens.  The question is the long term viability of your site, and url architecture with keywords in the title is more efficient than a series of numbers.  Are long url's some kind of panacea?  No!  But url architecture is an important component.  Your developer friend may have inside knowledge, but she gets it from Google, who is engaged in an ongoing information war to prevent SEO consultants from gaming their system.  Using that information as the basis of your column was journalistic malpractice, and let me tell you - 90% of developers have a blind spot when it comes to SEO.  They write compliant code that can be indexed, but don't understand how to write pages that have an impact on conversion and traffic.  And by the way, you're using Wordpress.  A free software.  You're not even building your own site!

Your trick wasn't going to magically solve your problem, but the long form url had its uses for some time, and unless Google has made major changes, it still has an effect.  Of course, Wordpress and Typepad represent large numbers of sites pumping out a lot of webpages.  If they all do it, the use of long url's loses it's relevancy, and has to be changed to something else.  Much like the use of metatags, the "power" of the longform url may have dropped - but to suggest that it is some kind of scam shows a lack of knowledge on the topic and a cringe-worthy column that should be followed with an apology.

You want to write a column?  How about a column talking about the number of business owners and website operators that live in a fantasy world where free SEO advice will make them millions and bring in free traffic?

As for tags?  Again, you're missing the point. Yes, tags can be misused, but there are uses.  Do a scan of links to your site and you'll find remote tagging creates a series of backlinks that matter to some search engines and not to others.  They also provide a quick scan visual clue as to what you're talking about.  If you're not getting results, maybe it's you're not tagging correctly, or expecting too much for too little?

SEO is about a strategy, not a gimmick.  Yes there are a lot of bad actors, but your column does nothing to help that.  You've just spread inaccurate fearmongering because you made a rookie mistake.  Yes, an apology is in order.

Webinar Series: SEO For The Recruiter

October 29th, I'll be running my fourth installment of the Social Media Headhunter series at Hireability.

This particular training will focus on the use of search engine optimization techniques for recruiters, including primers on what SEO is, how to find SEO candidates, and how to rank highly in search engines for terms relating to your industry.

68% of offline purchases now begin with online searches.

Over 70% of recruiters admit to using a search engine to check a candidate's background prior to an offer.

Search engines are an important part of the way we conduct our business.  We check out salespeople calling us by checking their name in a search engine.  We research vendors, and yes, we check out recruiters before we agree to send them a resume.

Learn how to dominate your niche both locally and nationally.

And if you'd like to see how it's done - do a search for "jim durbin" recruiter.  Last time I checked, I was 18 pages deep on Google.

Also search, "hyperion recruiter," "java swing interview questions," "best st louis headhunter," and "list of st louis staffing agencies." Notice StlRecruiting.com is at the top of those results.

Last year, StlRecruiting was responsible for 12 placements.   

SEO And The Social Media Headhunter

I've been very pleased with the response on this site - in addition to over 100 subscribers, the traffic has been fantastic for a two month old blog.  And the conversions for placements haven't been too bad (I'll share those at the six month mark when the checks clear).   Maintaining something like my tenth blog isn't easy, and though this clearly has the traction, I wanted to bring in some expert help from people who know more than I do in the realm of SEO and SEM.

My view as a social media headhunter is pretty simple - I can do most of the jobs I recruit for, so if you can teach me something, or can show that you're better than I am, then you're probably a great match for my clients.  I'm a six in most areas, and I want 7's, 8's, and 9's for candidates (unless the client wants a 4).  How do I find 7', 8's, and 9's?  Why - through the blog of course. These people monitor the web, and they've seen my results, and so they drop me a line.

One such example is an SEO expert that I'm going to add as an author on the site.  He works internally for a company, so he can't exactly share his stories on his own blog, so he's graciously accepted writing on mine.  I'd like to welcome Nigel Thermopolis as an author.  You can expect to see some of his writing grace these pages over the coming months, and if you have SEO questions, please forward them to me.

**And I'm still open to an SEM author, especially if you've worked with large budgets and have made a profit for your company (internal only, please).