A complicated question with many answers but it is not impossible to find the right answer for your company.

There is no exact dollar amount or percentage that a company should invest in social media. Instead, a company should develop an approach based on what their specific needs are and what they hope to get out of their social media efforts.

Here are a few things to consider:

1) Know Your Margins

Every business will have different resources and budgeting for social media. Sure, social media is free to the public, but a company will have to take costly considerations into account, such as staffing, development and upkeep. In order to avoid wasting money, online business owners need to set realistic goals that are based on the anticipated financial investment and their expected return.

2) Set Goals

What are you looking to accomplish with your social media efforts customer acquisition? keeping in touch with current customers? marketing campaigns? Each or a combination of these goals are commonly used in social media but they all come with a different approach and target audiences. For example, if youre looking to use gain more followers, friends and website traffic, you are looking at a more time consuming task than the others may be. Your social media specialist may need so spend several hours a day creating unique content that others in your industry will like and want to share.

3) Be Focused

Social media can be time consuming " very time consuming. Even at the bare minimum, most companies are looking at a financial investment of 6 paid employee hours a week. Because of this, its important to stay focused and understand how social media tools work so that your time with them will be efficient. Pick the top tools that are used by your customer base and focus your time on them instead of trying to use them all. Many people use Twitter, Facebook and personal blogs so that might be a good place to start.

The main social media expense comes from the time that is spent on reaching your goal. According to a study conducted by Social Media Examiner, a significant 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week, 34% for 11 or more hours weekly, and 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media. This adds up to billable hours. The same study however, noted that with an increase in social media comes a decrease in other marketing costs.

So how much should you spend on social media for your online business? The best answer is found in a quick evaluation of your company and its needs. Find the right balance and watch your company thrive!

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