How much business time and money should I spend on social media?

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a businessman with many arms holding a coffee, a tablet, a phone and a clockSocial media apps and websites bring many benefits but using them well can take up a lot of an entrepreneur's precious time.

Businesses need to decide how much time and money they spend on social media based on what tangible benefits they gain.  Here are the key things to consider when managing your resources in this area:

Time spent on Customer Service

Regular small bursts of interaction bring more returns

There are time constraints on social media interaction. Don't leave it too long. You will need to respond quickly so that you do not get negative comments on your social media such as slow service or taking ages to reply. Reply fast to keep the customers happy and to keep them coming back as well.

However, you can't spend all your time on it, so checking in three times a day or when your customers tend to be on social media is a safer bet.  Of course, you will have to adjust this to suit your business.


Plan on who to contact first so that you do not waste time on the wrong people because working on social media can be time-consuming.

Social media has been designed to be addictive. We get a dopamine hit every time someone likes our posts. These add-driven companies deliberately programme their apps to manipulate us, interrupt us, keep us scrolling and exploit our natural survival instinct to focus on the negative. Set a timer for 20 minutes to remind you to leave it and get on with other tasks.


You need to find a balance that suits you. Assess what time you can contribute.  Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer an automated response. This can either

  • direct them to an alternative way of contacting you
  • offer another source of useful information
  • give times of the day when you respond to queries

See more about managing customer expectations in How can I use IT to respond more quickly to my customers?


Return on time investment

a business woman balancing money on one hand and a clock on the other

Social Media for Relationship Marketing

If your target audience and customer base regularly use social media then it may be worth contributing a large about of time to it.

ASOS sells fashion to young people.

They see social media as the main part of their relationship marketing.

They employ staff to help maintain their social media by replying to questions that customers have or helping with their deliveries. This helps build the relationship with the customer and encourages them to come back to buy new products due to the good customer service they received.

It's worth ASOS spending that time because their customers expect very fast customer service. Their customers do not have to wait to be messaged and by having a bigger team they can answer all the questions or queries quickly meaning that the customers will be happy with the time it took for them to reply.

Social Media for Developing a Brand

drawing of a tree with social media and other computing icons on the branchesIt takes time to build up a convincing presence on social media.  This includes not just advertising but making yourself into an extension of your customers' online social lives.  You'll need to be subtler than just posting each item. You need to pass the time of day and engage them in conversation. See indirect marketing.

Don't expect it to happen overnight. You'll have a lot of competition. You are competing for their attention when they have not necessarily gone looking for you.  If you start to get new customers this way, then it will have been worth the time you put in.

Keep a log of how long you are spending building up your online profile and this will make it easier to assess.

Return on financial investment

megaphone with icons coming out of it to represent online video, ideas, a magnifying glass and a mobile phone with text and a pencilThis is easier to quantify. Advertising and contacting potential customers is called direct marketing.

Here is a brief introduction to Direct Marketing.

Poor success rate

However, the success rate for paid advertising on social media is very low.  Global social-selling expert, Tim Hughes explains

While we know that $265 billion is spent annually on digital advertising, there is a 98.8% failure rate.

Facebook ads have a 1.61% success rate.

Google ads have a 1.91% success rate.

Programmatic has a 0.35% success rate ..... giving an average of 98.8% failure rate.

Your advert will be just one of 10,000 electronic messages sent to each individual a day, including emails, according to Oracle. See more of Oracle's 7 Surprising Facts About Today’s Distracted Consumer

So what should you do?

Free stuff first: If you are spending money on advertising via social media, this should only be done after you have used all the free features, such as creating a profile, posting regularly and responding to queries.

Combine with real-world activities: Use offline sources of promotion that link with your social and website presence.  If you put on an event, the flyers, posters and packaging must all have the social media account names and your webs address on them.  Also promote the event beforehand on social media and, afterwards, make it a news story on the website and social media.

Specific campaigns: You can still use social media advertising if you want to get access to a very specific group of people that you don't otherwise have access to.  You can also limit the amount of time you are running the advert.  Small campaigns are much cheaper.

Get help: Money might be better spent on training or advice but, again, this varies in cost and effectiveness.

What next? Be very precise about where you target your efforts. Sensible and informed decisions will help you get a return on investment.

Use our free guides and learn how to:

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