How do you define a budget for managing things like a Facebook page? A Twitter feed? A YouTube channel?

We think it’s like asking, ‘How much of a production budget would you provide for an online advertising campaign if the media was free?’ On the face of it, the answer seems obvious – lots. But it makes sense to apply traditional online advertising metrics to the campaign, starting with cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-acquisition (CPA). These are widely understood baseline measures for site traffic and conversions.

By using these metrics for social campaigns, you can measure the effectiveness of the campaign against any paid online advertising and have a useful tool for justifying the cost of ongoing management of the social campaign elements.

One issue most clients need to address for this to be a like-for-like measure, however, is calculating the total cost of campaigns.

Many clients calculate the success of a campaign based on media budget alone, and don’t factor in the creative, production and management costs of the campaign as well. It’s often much simpler just to refer to the RoI figures provided by your media agency.

For a social campaign, however, the only costs are usually production and management fees, as social media distribution is generally free. So the RoI of the campaign comes down to how much interest the campaign generated versus the cost of producing it, not running it.

In order to compare the two campaigns, it’s important to calculate the real CPC or CPA including all real costs – that way you can see if the social campaign stacks up as a traffic driver.

One key thing to consider here is the fact that traditional paid advertising costs more the longer it runs, whereas a social campaign can actually reduce in CPC or CPA over its lifespan, as the majority of the costs are consumed up front.

Obviously, not all social campaigns are designed as traffic drivers, so the CPC metric may not be the primary metric, but as a baseline measurement of your fledgling social media campaign, it can be a useful benchmark.

For sophisticated social media marketers, campaigns are much more about conversation, engagement and satisfaction, which require a whole new set of metrics and measures. However if you’re still just trying to obtain budget to get started, then begin with some standard metrics. You’ll quickly see the value in social media campaigning