In the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, created by Social Media Examiner, it was found that 92% of marketers felt that social media was important for their business. This has been an increasing trend as
more and more businesses identify social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest as large networks of potential customers and have therefore setup a professional presence on these sites.
But based on our understanding of the marketing and specifically Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha and other Middle Eastern business hubs, a number of businesses are failing to link revenue with social media activity and as a consequence are unsure of what budgets should be allocated to social media.
So what is the cost of social media marketing in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha?
This is a difficult question to answer but a good place to start is to look at why companies still aren't sure of what return they are generating from their social media activity? The problem is that many businesses still class social media activity as posting regular content on the platforms mentioned above and then engaging with a community of followers who they hope, will either be existing customers or new customers that they believe may convert based on the increased visibility of the business and the interaction. While this isn't totally untrue, it is in fact far from being a full social media strategy and one where a business will NEVER be able to track any accurate return on investment.
That's why businesses still look at Social Media as a cost rather than an investment
When you ask business owners, CEOs and other key decision makers about their company's marketing efforts, they often refer to this as a investment. And that makes sense. There is a clear trackable metric in place (or not) that allows businesses to understand that marketing generates a return on investment for the business and a direct impact on revenue generated. Maybe due to the immaturity of social media, the same people still consider social media as a cost rather than an investment for the business. And we think we know why.
There is a distinct lack of quality social media experts and holistically positioned digital marketing agencies out there in the local market.
And it's obvious to see when you take a close look at it. Next time you speak to your digital marketing team, agency or social media advisors, ask them one simple question: "How can you demonstrate clear return on my company's investment in social media?". If the answer you start to receive contains the following words "engagement", "interaction", "fan numbers", "likes" or "follower numbers" it's likely that no matter how active your business is on social media, you'll never been able to describe this activity as an investment for your business.
However, if you hear the words "increased traffic to your website", "lead generation", "marketing automation", "conversion" or "landing pages", it's likely that your business is already generating a good steady flow of new business from this activity.
Which brings me back to the cost of social media marketing...
At this point, there are two points to consider:
- What is the cost of social media marketing?
- What is the cost to my business of NOT engaging in a good social media strategy?
Experience in the industry suggests that you genuinely will "get what you pay for" when it comes to social media activity for businesses in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Doha. Unfortunately, there are too many people masquerading as social media experts, which include not just an army of freelancers but also PR agencies and Advertising Agencies who simply have a lack of digital marketing understanding that cannot be applied effectively to a client.
So when you are considering cost (investment) / or how much you should spend on your business' social media activities, use the following guide:
If you just want large fan numbers, additional visibility and a busy stream of content but no interest in actual return on investment, you should spend AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. Use a freelancer or small agency who will be able to provide this for you for less than AED 6,000 (US$ 1,500) per month.
If however, you are interested in building a strong relationship with potential customers built on trust and credibility and are interested in generating high quality sales leads to support your sales funnel, think about the following:
- How much is the average customer worth to you over 1, 2 or 3 years?
- How long is your sales cycle?
- How visible is your business to prospects during the sales cycle?
- How many leads do you normally need to generate to close a deal?
- What is your current cost per lead?
If you have answers to the above, you probably need to speak to a content marketing, social and digital marketing agency who can start to plan out a strategy for you that will provide a direct impact for your business.
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