Social Media Marketing

The True Cost of Social Media & Digital Marketing in 2023

Pricing for social media marketing services is a balancing act since the relationship needs to be mutually beneficial: the client receives value for their money, and the agency remains profitable thus staying in business.

Evaluating the cost of social media marketing services is a lot trickier than most folks think for plenty of reasons: there aren’t many established benchmarks, a lot of companies aren’t very public with their pricing, and there is too much variance in this industry to come up with a single conclusive answer. However, there is one thing we can all agree on:

There is no such thing as free marketing. Low-cost, yes — free, no.

After a few years representing various clients operating in different fields, talking to other social media marketing consultants, and fair bit of head scratching, we have devised what we consider the fairest pricing model possible for Social Media Marketing – it works for Kooni, and we’re proud to share it with the world.

This model takes several factors into account: the amount and quality of work done, the nature of Social Media Marketing work, Return on Investment, and several other factors. We don’t think it’s conclusive, and therefore I invite all suggestions on how to improve it, but it is a nice basis to evaluate the cost-value balance for social media marketing services you are keen on procuring.

Overarching Factors Influencing Cost of Social Media Marketing

Before getting into the technicalities of hiring a social media manager, let’s look into what other costs affect the quality of your output and consequently, the results that you will enjoy.

Aside from the usual costs of running a business – office expenses, salaries & benefits, insurance, etc. – social media marketing agencies incur certain costs in order to produce effective results as detailed below:

  1. Services: Put simply, different services yield different results, which attract different prices. It all depends on the scope, complexity and scale of the project for which you’re hiring.
  2. Software: Effective SMM is heavily reliant on software. Agencies need to purchase different SaaS products and software licenses depending on the purpose and scale of the project. The purpose of these tools ranges broadly, from analytics to email marketing, social management and content production. Some of the most popular software used by social media marketing agencies are Mailchimp, Hootsuite, AdEspresso, Premier Pro and Photoshop.
  3. Nature of Work: Content is the biggest differentiator on social media. The more you produce, the higher your chances of success. It is also very easy to sink 300+ manhours in a project only to have it invalidated by an unforeseen crisis like how major firms had to rethink their Superbowl campaigns after Kobe’s accident.
  4. Paid Content: Like the age-old question asks – if a tree falls and no one hears it, did it happen? Online advertising helps serve the content that we painstakingly spend hours to develop reach thousands of more eyeballs than it would reach organically.


In order to understand Social Media Marketing pricing, you need to understand the core principles that any marketing unit needs to dominate for the best chances of success:


A strong social media marketing strategy takes into account what you want to achieve, and details the timeframe, and resources available/required to get there. This informs your brand’s tone, including factors like what you say, how you say it, and how it is perceived. Strategy should be reviewed at least quarterly, and can be defined by a simple question: what are you looking to achieve in the next X period?

Understand that no post is random, and that every step taken online should be a deliberate and calculated effort to meet businesses’ strategic objectives. The reason why a time limit is necessary for strategy is that social media by its nature is very transient. Every now and then management will have to convene and brainstorm/decide on the marketing direction for the next period or in response to market conditions.


With visual design carrying such a large emphasis on social media, it is crucial that you put your best foot forward on the visuals front. Content creation takes up the most time for any serious social media marketing agency and for good reason:

The biggest factor that sets all social media users apart is content. The math here is quite simple: the more content you post, the higher your chances of success. This is especially true with social media advertising. Since the cost of advertising is significantly lower compared to traditional media, advertisers on social media can create dozens (even hundreds) of pieces of content for one ad campaign and test them out to find the most effective in helping them reach their goal.

Costing for creative is a particularly contentious issue, since there are multiple considerations required for high-quality results:

  • The cost of capturing content: From hiring a photo/videographer to grace the event/having them on retainer and catering for their per diem, room and board, plus other incidentals like fuel. The standard is to have a set hourly rate or daily fee. Some social media marketing agencies factor this in their retainer.
  • Stock photography/stock videos because you won’t always have the content you need at hand, or is not financially feasible to capture.
  • Production & editing is expensive because it is time-consuming (videos will often take longer in production than during filming) and subjective to the client’s taste. Most agencies charge a one-off price or use an hourly rate.
  • Software is also necessary for a multitude of creative work, from the likes of Photoshop and Premiere Pro to After Effects and the myriad others you have to employ to produce quality content.

Over and above, you need to consider how the content you’re collecting ties to your overall objective. You also need to give thought to how you’ll repurpose the content for other uses further down the road.

Repurposing comes in many forms, from Then & Now compilations to b-roll and mashups.


The words you use to speak to your audience make a huge difference in the success of your campaign. Consider all the memorable adverts you recall from way back when. There’s no doubt that the brands behind them used skilled copywriters who are so crafty you often recited the words when they played on TV (maybe you still remember them). Such skill does not come cheap, but the results speak for themselves.

In the digital world, copywriting is really important since words make up a huge chunk of the online experience. You need to ensure that every sentence you put out embodies the brand’s values. Copywriting is also widely extensive: wit, pun, and thoughtful pieces drive mass appeal with the right audience, which gets your posts shared, and the words in your paid and email campaigns need to get your audience taking your desired action.

Blogging is a powerful tool for generating free web traffic and positioning your brand as an authority, but research usually takes a disproportionate amount of time in the creation process. A 1200-page article can take 4-7 hours in research and formatting before it is ready for publishing. Interestingly, most readers only spend an average of 4 minutes on a well-written 1000-word article. However, a timeless piece is an eternal asset that will serve you for long after it is published.

Paid Media

After years of experience, we at Kooni firmly believe that your social media efforts are for naught if you don’t spend any money on ads. A social media strategy without an ad budget is like a car without wheels – it’s not going anywhere.

In the social media world of today, there’s multiple ways to spend money to drive traffic and increase brand awareness. Advertising is the most popular and easiest to achieve results. At a basic level, every marketer should understand the most common online media buying strategies and be familiar with the major online advertising platforms – Google Ads and Facebook Ads at the least. They should understand which campaigns should be run on which platform(s), and attach contextual creative that brings value to the platform. Each platform is comprised of different demographics and presents a different experience, so it’s important to know which ad you should run on YouTube, and which ones to run on LinkedIn, and which ones to run on TikTok.

There are other ways you can make your money work for you online. For instance, partnering with influencers on Instagram and YouTube is so commonplace that both platforms actually have features for labelling paid partnerships natively. Viral challenges are another way to get your brand seen by millions of eyeballs. A lot of popular challenges in recent years develop organically, but some of them usually involve an initial push to get the challenge going.

Community management

With all social media activity, consistency is everything. One post won’t make you an internet sensation, but if you keep innovating, creating, posting, and engaging with your fans, the results compound over time. Then when you post that one piece of content that’s shared by half the world, they’ll have a lot more of your past posts to enjoy.

As pertains pricing, there are two major factors determining a client’s retainer: size and scope. Pages with significant following (over 50,000 fans) need much keener attention than those with less. It may require dedicating one or more full-time staff to post and engage with fans 24 hours a day.

The number of social accounts under management also affects the cost since each page has to be handled independent of the others, with its own unique content. Our pricing plans also reflect the number of accounts that the client needs managed. Each account needs its own unique content, which requires a great deal of time as accounts increase.

The most expensive part of community management is content curation. If you’re to use video (which we recommend since video greatly outperforms still images), it comes with significant productions costs: capturing the video might be relatively cheap, but editing takes up a significant amount of time. For instance, a 10-minute clip with high production value may take between 12 to 60 manhours to put together. Sometimes, filming takes hours or even days just to capture the scenes necessary to tell the story in 10 minutes.

And do not forget that despite all the time and hard work it takes to create winning content, it can all be dealt null and void by a crisis or natural disaster.


Unlike other costs that businesses regularly incur, marketing is actually a direct investment for growing your business.

Think about it… what is the ROI on your office rent?

Does your lease agreement require your landlord to provide you with a steady stream of prospects?

How many more people could your business reach by spending an equivalent of your rent on marketing? How many extra leads would you generate?

How many more customers would that translate into?

How much would that translate in short term revenue and customer lifetime value?

This is the true benefit of a good marketing strategy. Remember, marketing is fuel for your business. While most folks raise their eyebrows at the cost, few take the time to consider the effect that exceptional marketing can have on their business:

…and what all this does for your bottom line.


Popular Pricing Models

The majority of agencies model their budgets in 3 ways:

  1. Success-based: the more they achieve, the more they earn. This is preferable for smaller companies but exposes the agency to high risk
  2. Media spend percentage: the agency works with an advertising budget, and they get a percentage of total ad spend. Basically, the more they spend, the more they earn. This may lead to the agency spending more than necessary in order to earn more.
  3. Flat budget: The client and agency agree on a monthly retainer. This is the preferred model at Kooni Connect.

Larger agencies vs smaller agencies

Digital marketing agencies charge differently, mostly based on their size/scale and the scope of the work they will perform. For larger agencies, they may charge based on the number of people/resources required to work on the account either as dedicated personnel, or give a set amount of time.

Smaller agencies will generally ask for a retainer in exchange for dedicated execution of a wide range of services. At Kooni, we use a blend of both and then some, depending on the nature of the account, because we understand that every client is different.

How much does it cost for Kooni Connect to run your social media marketing activities?

We have gone to great strengths to design pricing structures that are fair to both the agency and the client: the client is only charged for work done, and the agency gets reimbursed for their productivity. As a principle, we ensure to give at least 3x the value that we receive from our clients.

The first thing we have to do is understand the client’s needs. This includes:

  • What services exactly do you need? The fees quoted are different depending on the service. For example, Web Development, Email Marketing and Community Management are quoted at different rates.
  • What objectives are you looking to achieve? Is it to obtain sales through an ad campaign, increased brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, or get more installs for your app?
  • Timeline: do you want to engage us for a one-off campaign or are you looking for a longer commitment?

These questions help us to design a package that is specifically designed with your needs in mind, the breakdowns for which are included in the quote that you receive.

For management engagements, we offer a slew of services at a set retainer. This varies depending on the number of Marketing Streams (social media accounts, email, etc.) and their size as well. Some special pricing mechanisms can be applied in certain conditions such as where an account has over 50,000 followers (we’ll need to dedicate full-time account manager(s) to oversee all your socials and engage with fans) or if we’ll be taking up managing your YouTube (standalone fee of $2,500) — video is an expensive and intensely time-consuming activity.

For advertising, we’ll take an agreed-upon amount for a set number of hours, and any additional work carried out will be charged at an hourly rate.

We offer one-day strategy sessions and in-house corporate training. Pricing is available upon request.

Retainers and commissions

As a fundamental rule and in accordance with our Media Policy, we ensure to spend 20% of every Community Management client’s retainer on advertising activities. We provide the client with snapshot reports for all advertising activities undertaken each month. If the client wishes to extend the reach of their ad (which we encourage), they can supplement this budget at an additional fractional cost.

While we charge most of our clients a monthly retainer for social media marketing services rendered, some opt for a combination of a reduced retainer in conjunction with a commission structure. Smaller businesses typically find this favourable as they pay less upfront, and they pay us in proportion of how much money they make.

Commission varies largely depending on the nature of the client’s industry, and the extent of our participation in driving business results.

There’s no upper limit to what SMM can cost. And with Social Media Marketing playing a PR role in today’s world, having the right social media marketing on your side is critical to your success. As crazy as some of the fees may sound, it is still a drop in the ocean compared to what corporations spend on their PR and general marketing activities.

Why hire a Social Media Management Agency?

The most immediate win with hiring the right agency is that it allows the client to focus on their core business while the agency worries about getting them seen.

A SMM agency like Kooni Connect avails all the necessary marketing skills to you without you having to go through the stress of recruiting/overhauling an entire marketing department. They can also plug in very nicely with your existing marketing department to augment areas that need specialized attention.

A social media marketing agency understands what is necessary to produce effective business results, and have the necessary manpower required to achieve them. This is some extensive work that requires the involvement of multiple disciplines. Creative work can also be very taxing, not to mention that it’s very rare to find someone gifted in say, both Creative (handled by the right side of the brain) and Copy (left hemisphere).

A reputable agency should be able to provide a steady stream of reports that enable you to have your finger on the pulse of your business at all time. Furthermore, with time, we are able to provide insights into your customers and audiences based on findings on the data we collect. This helps greatly in understanding your clients further.

Bookmark this page and revisit it next when you’re hiring a social media marketing agency.

In a nutshell, you want an agency that factors the clients needs in the pricing. Such an agency provides customized pricing and can come up with flexible pricing models that take into account the client’s size, timelines and objectives.

Most importantly, find a Social Media Marketing Agency that CARES.

domination call social media marketing

How do you determine the cost of social media marketing?

Larger agencies charge based on the number of people/amount of resources required to work on the account either as dedicated personnel, or give a set amount of time. Smaller agencies generally ask for a retainer in exchange for dedicated execution of a wide range of services.

Whatever the agency may charge, ensure that you get the value you need.

What's the best way to pay for social media marketing services? Commission basis or monthly retainer?

Most agencies charge based a fixed plus variable pricing model. In such a model, the agency receives a fixed monthly retainer, as well as a variable amount that is pegged to performance such as a commission on revenues, % of ad spend, or a set amount per lead generated.

How much does social media marketing cost?

Depending on the experience level of the social media management agency you hire, the size of your business, the suite of services you require, and and the complexity of your social media strategy, outsourcing professional social media marketing services can cost you anywhere from $600 to $5,000 per month. And even more.

How much does social media and digital advertising cost?

Here, the agency charges a fixed retainer in the region of $420 to $3,000 as well as a performance-based proponent such as a percentage of sales or set amount per lead.

These figures are exclusive of the actual amounts that you will spend on ads.

How much does SEO cost?

SEO services are priced on the level of involvement by the agency, starting at $500 all the way up to $4000 per month for ongoing maintenance.

How much does email marketing cost?

The base price for outsourcing your email marketing function is Ksh. 500 per 100 subscribers. We send your audience 2 emails per week, and you get insights of your audience. We are able to conduct A/B testing with the audience, retarget them with ads, and set up email automation sequences.

Why should I hire an agency to handle my social media marketing?

A social media marketing agency understands what is necessary to produce effective business results, and have the necessary manpower required to achieve them. This is some extensive work that requires the involvement of multiple disciplines. Creative work can also be very taxing, not to mention that it’s very rare to find individuals gifted in Creative (visual design), Copy (written communication), and Analytics (number crunching).

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