Budgeting for Social Media and Community Management

7 minute read

Social media management may be one of the most challenging roles to budget for. Although there are no rules for how much you must spend on social media, there are some guidelines you can follow to help grow your business.

If you’re using social media to market your business, you’ll need to budget either time or money to implement your brand’s social media strategy.

There are several parts of a brand’s social media strategy, including two which we will cover in-depth:

  • Social media marketing. Social media marketing is content strategically created with a call-to-action or goal, such as bringing visitors to your website. 
  • Community management. A community manager takes care of how your brand interacts with your community online. They create an environment that evokes feelings and brings a human personality.

Overall, social media management encompasses many roles: community managers, copywriters, graphic designers, content creators and editors, collaboration managers, data analysts, and creative directors. Not to mention the time, understanding and skill it takes to creatively (and strategically) incorporate all of the above into a social platform.

This post is for Founders who want to learn more about why social media management plays such an essential role in growing a community-oriented business and how to budget for it. You’ll learn:

  • A marketing budget’s general cost estimate
  • The role social media + community management plays in marketing
  • Social media + community management budgeting and tasks

How much should you budget for marketing? 

A general rule of thumb is to allocate between 10-25% of your budget towards marketing. If you are a business with higher overhead costs (like products), you will probably want to budget 10-20% towards marketing. If you are a scalable business with low overhead costs (for example, you sell online courses), you should allocate 25% of your budget towards marketing to help you scale.

Marketing helps you reach new customers and nurture existing ones. It keeps your brand relevant and at the top of your community’s minds.

Here are some sample costs of marketing:

Remote Brand Direction Agency

Annual Cost: $22,600 USD – $90,000 USD

A brand direction agency takes on both the roles of social media and community management. They use your brand pillars to build an engaged community of brand advocates.

If you want to stay in your role as CEO/COO of your business, bringing on a brand direction agency helps you completely offload marketing.

You may not have to worry about workflow, tasks, and training if you hire an agency because they are responsible for their own training and processes. Agencies can also give you access to multiple team members and experts in different things outside of social media, like brand design and copywriting.

This cost varies depending on your business’s needs, the scopes of work, and the expectations of the agency. For example, will the agency play a role in managing customer service on social media? That will typically come at an additional cost.

Full-Time Social Media Manager

Salary: $50,000 – $90,000 USD

A full-time social media manager can help create and manage content for your brand’s presence across social media platforms.

Rather than enlisting an employee to post randomly on your profiles with no plan, a social media manager’s primary responsibility is to strategically distribute content across social platforms. 

Having an in-house social media manager can help with customer support as well. Your social media manager may be able to allocate some time to on-platform customer support.  

If customers send specific questions to your social media accounts, your social media manager can escalate queries to your customer service team.

Content, Images and Assets

Cost: Varies

What content will your brand distribute on social media? Here are some ideas to prepare to budget for:

  • Photography and images
  • Video production
  • Graphic design
  • Artwork

Most brands will want to budget for brand or product photography that will stand out across social media. As video grows in popularity, it’s an important type of content to consider in your social media marketing budget, too.

Influencer Collaborations

Cost: Starting between $100 – $5,000 per campaign for accounts with up to 50,000 followers

Like images and assets, you can work with influencers or brand ambassadors to create sponsored content for your brand. Nanoinfluencers (between 1,000 – 10,000 followers) and microinfluencers (10,001 – 50,000 followers) typically have more engaged, loyal audiences. 

The deliverables can range from photos, posts on their account, or video content. Look for influencers who have followers that may be interested in your product. 


Annual Cost: $100 – $500+ per year

You’ll also need to consider what software you’ll want to use to market your business. At a minimum, you should consider using graphic editing software (Adobe Photoshop, Canva Pro, Figma) and a social media scheduling tool. 

We also recommend using an email newsletter CRM to market your business. Direct contact with your customers via email is the best way to reach and nurture your online community.

  • Adobe: Photoshop, Lightroom
  • Canva Pro: $119/year
  • Later (or another social media scheduling tool): $150/year
  • Email newsletter CRM


Cost: $2,000 – $25,000 USD

Your website will be where your community can learn more about your brand, what you offer, and how to stay connected. It will be your 24/7 employee, working around the clock to educate visitors about your brand.

Why is community management important? 

Community management is important because it creates connections within your community. By being present in your community, you create relationships based on shared values. This is precisely the thing that builds brand advocates – people who will buy from your brand, or recommend your brand to their friends, over time.

It might be tempting to automate a lot of your social media presence, but there’s a point where people will be able to tell the difference and show there’s a human behind your brand.

Engaging on social media every day creates surprise, delight and connection with your followers. 

Someone should be around to monitor social channels regularly, if not daily. This gives you an opportunity to see where your brand is being mentioned or what topics your brand can participate in. 

How much should I budget for social media management?

Option 1: Solopreneur (you do it yourself)

Cost: 32+ hours of your time

If you don’t have the money to hire anyone else to manage your social media, you’ll have to sacrifice your own time to do it.

Start with choosing one platform to engage with your audience. Then, schedule time into your day to:

  • Create content and post it
  • Engage with your community
  • Handle customer support

According to Forbes, it takes 32 hours of hard work to manage a social media platform. That’s about 1 hour a day spent managing a social media platform, creating content, and engaging with your community.

Option 2: Virtual Assistant

Estimate: $960+/mo (32 hours at $30/hr) 

Your next option is trying to keep costs low by hiring a Virtual Assistant. 

It’s important to be aware that the more hats your assistant wears, the more they may be spread too thin. When you’re spread too thin, it’s easier to drop the ball somewhere or burn out.

To prevent this, have regular, open conversations with your virtual assistant about how much time they spend on tasks and hours allocated. Check in with them regularly to see if they have the support (money, time, energy) they need to hit targets or goals.

When managing a brand’s community and social media platform, it’s easy to go over hours and overwork. There’s always announcements, trends, or even urgent customer inquiries that come up last minute. Keep in touch with your virtual assistant to ensure they feel supported instead of overwhelmed.

Other things to keep in mind: 

  • Unless it’s a part of their role, they may not be up-to-date on all the trends or day-to-day analysis
  • Don’t expect a virtual assistant to be an expert copywriter, video editor, or press advocate
  • Be cautious of the types of tasks you outsource to your VA – if spread too thin, it becomes easier to drop the ball somewhere

For the reasons above, it’s best to either support your virtual assistant until they can take on your social media and community management full-time. Or, hire a specialist or agency to take on this work instead. 

Option 3: Hiring or Outsourcing a Manager

Cost: $1,800+ per month

The best bang for your buck is hiring an expert to help you grow your brand following on Instagram.

By hiring experts, you get direct access to their platform knowledge and experience. 

The tasks a manager will take on can include:

  • Marketing and brand strategy
  • Social media management
  • Community management
  • Reporting and analytics (qualitative and quantitative data) 
  • Crisis communication
  • Influencer outreach/relations
  • Social listening

You and your virtual assistant may not have the time to stay up-to-date with the constant Instagram platform updates. But, an Instagram expert stays up-to-date with not only platform updates, but also trends and trending topics that keep your brand relevant.

An Instagram expert can look at weekly and monthly analytics (quantitative and qualitative) so they know the best way to grow your brand following, engage your audience, and support you in increasing your brand’s bottom line.

Do I really need to be on social media? 

Being on social media helps:

  • Grow your brand presence beyond your existing customer base
  • Nurture your relationship with existing followers
  • Build know, like, and trust
  • Keep your brand at the forefront of followers’ minds when they make recommendations to friends

If you want to build an engaged community who feel passionate about your brand, then yes – being on Instagram is really that important. Are you interested in learning more about creating brand advocates who are passionate about your brand? Then follow us on Instagram @kapwastudio.co!

Special thanks to my co-founder, Alexis Galamay, for editing this article.

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Krista Aoki
Krista Aoki
Krista Aoki is a brand storyteller and co-founder of kapwa studio. She combines her background in branding with an affinity for writing to tell relatable stories that create relationships over the screen. Connect with her on Instagram.

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