Survey Says: 65 Hours Per Week for Social Media

March 30th, 2010

We get a lot of questions about how much time and budget to allocate to social media. Questions like: “What percentage of the mix do we need to invest?” or “Can I have my PR person just add this to their job?” It seems that while nearly everyone is starting to understand the value of social media, not everyone fully understands the costs.

 

Here’s what we know: It takes at least 65 hours a week to maintain 4 social media channels for 1 brand.

 

While social media channels are considered “free,” the time you need to create, develop, and maintain those channels is anything but free. In fact, from our survey of social media practitioners, it can take quite a bit of time – for an average brand it takes 65 hours on average to maintain 4 social media channels at any given time.  For the math challenged, that’s a full time job for 1.5 people.

 

How’d we get the numbers? This spring we surveyed nearly 40 SM practitioners and asked about their hours invested in social media for their brands or the brands of their clients.  In our survey, we defined the following: creation means setting up the page with initial content (does not include creative design team hours); development means attracting followers, initial promotion/launch; and maintenance means listening, responding, posting, messaging, inviting. The average ranges depended on the potential for the community size, initial promotional pool, campaign goals, etc.

 

Here are what the surveyed practitioners spend on social media for a single brand:

 

Planning

Social Media Research  8-25 hours

Social Media Planning   10-20 hours

 

Blog

Creation                      10-15 hours

Development                40 hours

Maintenance                5 hours/week

 

LinkedIn

Creation                       1 hour

Development                 5-15 hours        

Maintenance                 3-10 hours/week

 

Facebook (Fan or Group Page)

Creation                       3-12 hours

Development                10-50 hours

Maintenance                 7-15 hours/week

 

Ning

Creation                        1-10 hours        

Development                  20-60 hours

Maintenance                  5-15 hours/week

 

Twitter

Creation                        1 hour

Development                 15-40 hours

Maintenance                 3-7 hours/week

 

YouTube (branded channel)

Creation                        3 hours

Development                  5-20 hours

Maintenance                  2-7 hours/week

 

Flickr Pool

Creation                        1 hour

Development                  5-30 hours

Maintenance                  2-10 hours/week

 

For those of you that are fully engaged and invested in social media channels, I’m sure you’re not surprised, right? Social media done well requires a time investment. It’s a free channel with a real cost and has the potential for tremendous value if you invest the time. Tell us how many hours you’re investing in social media each week. And if you’d like a copy of the survey, email us.

 

28 Responses to “Survey Says: 65 Hours Per Week for Social Media”

  1. Davina K. Brewer Says:

    Jenny, I love having these numbers. Of course these stats will vary:

    Per the brand, its size and how extensive its social media marketing campaign is. A local small business shouldn’t need to spend as much time as a global brand.

    Per the practitioner, if he or she is dedicated full-time social media or if it’s part of their other job functions, like public relations.

    Bottom line: Social media is not free, it takes a significant investment of resources, money and time, to do it effectively.

  2. Kellye Crane Says:

    Great of you to share this data with the world, Jenny! One thing of note is that the maintenance activities are less time consuming than the creation and development phases.

    I see many organizations choosing to work with outside consultants to help with the ramp up activities and to handle policies/training for internal staff. The day-to-day tactical activities can then be handled by employees, with oversight by either the consultant or an internal strategic manager. This is an important issue for resource-strapped organizations, so thanks for addressing it.

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  5. Laura Scholz Says:

    It’s great to see some of the numbers on paper. I have a general idea that yes, it’s time consuming, but it helps to see them in black and white. I agree with Kellye that the time is all in development and strategy, which of course, is what most clients want to bypass! It is also the most expensive, because it involves more top-level employees. Thanks for putting together this resource!

  6. admin Says:

    I agree, we spend a major amount of time identifying which SM channels work best for our clients. We then help develop and create and then work with them to maintain/build/grow those channels. We offer these numbers to our clients as well, this way they know just what they’re creating and investing in for their brand.

  7. admin Says:

    The hours definitely vary – that’s why we put in the ranges. It depends on how much of their marketing they are investing in these particular channels and how responsive they think their target audiences will be. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Arik Hanson Says:

    A friend of mine talks a lot about how social media is “free” and costs much less than traditional marketing and communications activities in his presentations. And, while I appreciate and understand his main point, the fact remains this work is most certainly not free.

    I’m glad to see some of the survey results above. It validates some of my work lately. And, I agree with Kellye on the maintenance angle. That’s the role I try to fill with my clients. Research, development and ramp up–then train, monitor and coach.

    Thanks for organizing this survey. Very interesting data.

    @arikhanson

  9. Becky Peterson Says:

    Jenny,
    As always, your research and stats are spot on…seems easy to add “one more thing” to our daily to-dos, then voila, the day is gone. Results, results, results!

  10. Michael Calienes Says:

    This is a great breakdown to have, for sure; but of course, individual cases will vary greatly. I’ve found that spending more time up front is the key. Are you targeting the right people? Are you using the right message? We just re-explored these items for a client — we changed our target market completely, and are using mostly personal email touches. It’s further proof that social media isn’t the end-all be-all, it’s only another component to plug into the mix (when appropriate).

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  13. admin Says:

    Hi Adam,

    I agree – this is merely a small survey of dedicated SM practitioners – with the intent of creating a better understanding of just how many hours it takes to create, develop and maintain various SM channels. Granted it varies by skill, scope, and goals, and this is why on the post you’ll see ranges of hours invested. This survey was not a university-backed full-fledged scientific effort, as we state it’s a small effort on our part to help better understand the time those in social media invest in their efforts. For those of us that run companies and work directly with clients, it’s an effort to better define an understanding of the time required to execute.

    And yes, while we don’t blog often on our own company page, you’ll find plenty of our guest blogs on other sites. It’s about community and contributing when you can, like social media, it’s not about quantity. It’s about sharing the knowledge, learning, and expanding the conversation. Thanks for challenging us.

  14. Sunshine Mugrabi Says:

    Nice post–and as some of us have been discussing on buzz, an important topic to raise. A good strategy on the front end can save loads of time in the execution phase. Also, I’d add that automation can significantly reduce the time spent monitoring social media. Still, there’s no getting away from the fact that this is a real time commitment, and time=money.

    Thanks for starting the ball rolling on this key topic.

  15. Cris McGrath Says:

    Jenny, very intersting. I would like to see stats on Government 2.0 and social media involvement.

    Also, when you say ‘maintenance’ are these this 1.5 staff responding to the incoming traffic or sending the requests throughout the organisation which therefore increases the work-flow and resources required?

  16. admin Says:

    Cris – good question. The maintenance question didn’t ask your specific question. However, from our follow up, the basic presumption is that these people are the ones responsible for the interaction, follow up, etc. It may mean that they need to work with other organization members, but they are ultimately responsible for the response/interaction. If you’d like a copy of the survey questions, feel free to email info(at)cloudspark(dot)com. Thanks!

  17. Marine Rennau Says:

    It is a very useful research. It would be interesting to have a breakdown of time needed for the maintainance of an enterprice social media, (i.e. internal collaboration and knowledge-sharing platforms). I am facilitating one of those internal communities and found that without significant time investment it is impossible to achieve tangible results. A potential research would help advocate allocation of additional human resources to facilitate social media in large companies or organizations.

  18. Armando Farquer Says:

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  19. My Pazan Says:

    I have been looking around studying a variety of info about online marketing. Does someone have an understanding of worthwhile resources which help to control as well as track performance associated with social media marketing strategies?

  20. admin Says:

    You can easily find resources for tracking at MarketingProfs.com or follow their Summer Social series which includes metrics/measurement around social media. As for other online sources, start with Mashable.com and you’re certain to find plenty that contribute to the growing field.

  21. Chang Chico Says:

    Nice article. Pretty good to know for everyone who’s into social networking.

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  24. admin Says:

    Hi Monica, it’s a custom theme on WordPress.

  25. Elizbeth Tommolino Says:

    Great read. Thanks for the info!

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  27. Charm Domacena Says:

    Thank you for this info! Really helpful. :D

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