Lee Odden

How to Save Money on Social SEO Consulting

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, SEO, Social Media

Cost Saving Tips on Social SEOSocial Media Marketing is getting a lot of attention in the media on and offline, causing many business marketers to wonder how to adjust budgets and resources to participate. Others that have allocated funds to Social Media and SEO programs without proper implementation, timelines or measurement may question their return on investment.

While businesses decide to push or pull budgets, companies that are focused on winning market share and driving revenue are soundly and consistently investing in a mix of digital tactics involving search, email, online PR and of course, social media.  Adding to the marketing mix often means outsourcing and good consultants are not cheap.

For many companies, the decision to widen the range of marketing services and get help externally means budget reallocation. For some, it means the blasphemy of cutting tried and true marketing programs in order to chase after shiny social media. The good news is that there are ways to have your Social SEO cake and eat it too. For marketers that want to take full advantage of search engine optimization and social media, here are two of the most important cost saving tips to make both bean counters and marketers happy.

social media strategy

Plan ahead. Setting goals is fundamental to marketing but with a social SEO strategy, it’s important to understand the difference in outcomes as well as the tactics used to reach goals. SEO performance indicators are typically links, rankings, referrer and search traffic, inquiries, sales and other conversions.  Depending on goals, social media KPIs will include brand mentions on other social sites, links, comments, measures of engagement,  media placements, measures of sentiment about brand terms, syndication and growth of networks.

Setting goals for SEO distinct from Social Media is an important first step to creating a Social SEO strategy.  SEO on it’s own can drive sales. SEO can also help grow social networks via discovery through search. Optimizing content for search within social networks improves discovery in places where Google and other search engines can’t reach.

In comScore’s August 2009 Search Engine Rankings report, 3 of the top search engines were social media sites: YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. Companies that focus their optimization efforts solely on Google.com will miss the continued trend towards social search or search within social networks.

Social media facilitates word of mouth and requires ongoing participation to realize the most benefit. Whatever word of mouth can do for a business in the offline world, social media can do online; only faster and to a much larger community. Understand the difference between SEO and Social Media outcomes and you’ll save a significant amount of money on the normal discovery and learning phase of a Social SEO engagement.

social networks

Do your homework. With Search Engine Optimization, keyword research and analysis gives marketers valuable insight into the language customers use when searching for their products/services.  Understanding communities and customer behaviors in social media is a very different exercise. It’s possible to do some keyword research that is social media specific by analyzing the most common keyword tags used to label and organize social content. It’s also important to understand what social networks and media sharing sites your customers spend their time on. What are their behaviors and how do they participate? Do they share, create or just watch?

Companies that make the effort to understand search based keywords that are most popular is a great first step for saving on SEO costs spent on keyword research.  Marketers can do that homework through keyword research tools and competitive keyword research.

Additionally, understanding customer behaviors and content preferences on social networks and media sharing sites is equally important. What keywords are most often used in their conversations? What words do they use when tagging, commenting, linking and sharing media?  Social media monitoring tools can help as well as first hand experience with customers through social media participation. Insight from direct observation as well as software that can track and organize the large volume of social content will save tremendous amounts of time when working with an outside consultant as they ramp up the Audience phase of a social media program.

search social media friendly

Make no mistake, there’s work involved to save money on high quality Social Media and SEO programs. Think of it as putting sweat equity into your online marketing. Not only will companies save on consulting costs, but the increased knowledge from better understanding search keywords and social keywords will manifest in better relationships with customers and ability to implement on consultant recommendations.

Performing search and social media keyword research isn’t going to replace what consultants will do by any means. But it will shorten the time it takes to ramp up on tasks that can take a large number of consulting hours. The better corporate marketers know their Social Media and SEO goals, the more focused outside consultants can be in helping to reach them.

Other cost saving tips for Social Media Optimization programs include ongoing training, analytics and certain types of outsourcing. We’d love to hear your ideas on these suggestions and your own. How has your company been able to deal with slimmer marketing budgets but still engage in search and social media programs productively?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar GainesvilleDetailing says

    I have jumped on the social media bandwagon and I must say that my site traffic has doubled in the last few weeks. This was a good informative article. Thanks

  2. Lee – some great points raised throughout your latest article. In particular, the need for “corporate marketers” to work alongside consultants to understand the social media marketplace and the needs/wants of their customerbase. Handing over the reigns to an outsourced consultant hides a range of tremendous opportunities to interact directly with their existing and potential future customers.

  3. Exactly Ian. In order for companies to realize the benefits of social media, they need to participate on the social web themselves, not just outsource it.

  4. This sounds great, but from what I've seen, most businesses lack any kind of proficiency at Internet marketing, which makes the learning curve really steep. Sure, they might save money doing it themselves, but they end up missing key elements of a campaign. For example, they might try to rank for a keyword that clearly has a different intent than what they're presenting. Or they try to rank for a really broad keyword that gets 3 million searches. And then they wonder why they're not ranking.

    Overall, there's a lot of benefits to paying a company that does this every day for a living. I make connections about things on the Internet that most people don't readily see, just because at this point, I've worked on over 80 Internet marketing campaigns with a team of great people. There's a certain power behind that, and a hidden cost to doing it yourself.

  5. I personally love the concept of social media marketing. It's a positively cheap way of marketing for sure. It's more personal, it allows the consumer to respond and feel heard, it makes it easier to reach the right people and again.. it's cheap! It's so smart. I'll never forget the day I came across Jet Blue's Twitter page and saw their “pay $500 and fly unlimitedly for a whole month” deal! Had I not been on Twitter, I would have never known about that. That's social media marketing for ya. If you're at or own a company that's considering this new method of marketing and branding and reaching an audience, I say go for it! It doesn't hurt. You'll see why companies are now starting to allocate more and more time to social media marketing!

  6. I think you miss the point Fearless. These are things companies should do before they hire a consultant, not what they should do instead of hiring one.

  7. Is this a great move into the so called social media domain? I am sure millions of $$ Dollars $$ has already been spent and made using these tools. However, moving forward within these social services such as Twitter or Facebook can we ever hope to rely on them to have a financial return for what they provide? Its no secret that these very same social service companies are themselves looking into a dark financial hole with very little revenues to run this very same domain to date which we are all up-schilling to relying on.

  8. Social tools simply facilitate word of mouth. Answering your question about return on investment and effort with social media is to answer the question about the value of word of mouth.

  9. Avatar siouxfallshonda says

    I can't believe how many people fail to plan and then completely lose their target.

  10. Most organizations just don't have the knowledge, time or resources to do this well. What mostly happens is that they jump in with both feet, don't see immediate results and jump out.

  11. Avatar bonniebruderer says

    I really enjoyed your posting. It is great to see that view on social media. I work with a company that automates all of your social media, and it is so important to know what you are doing out there. Kudos to you!

  12. Great read of understanding the importance of SEO in social.

  13. Avatar angelinasimon says

    In these days of recession everyone love to see the tips of saving money and I am also not exception in it. So thanks for sharing such money saving post with us.
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  14. Automates all of their social media? Is that in a different category than spam? How do you automate relationship building?

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  17. Avatar robert renfro says

    I am finding that more and more businesses in my area are wanting to do more and more social networking or online marketing. While print media cost is going up internet marketing is becoming a must! I provide some online marketing services and write about it.
    you wrote a great article!

  18. Being an internet marketer, it is difficult to identify and hire a good consultant who is affordable and worth of. As I outsource my work, I am very careful and look to save money on social media marketing and SEO consulting. Although I know, some cost saving tips, I gained some new tips by reading your post. Thanks for sharing this information.

  19. Would love to hear case studies or examples of how to effectively outsource social media efforts. Process is key, but there's still the issue of authenticity.

  20. Dennis, I agree that there do need to be more case studies shared. Companies are certainly outsourcing social media work. Some are finding a good mix of vendor and in-house involvement. Many are outsourcing everything and some of that is so very poor. Kind of tough to build real relationships that way. Not impossible, but for many social media consultants, it's not sustainable unless the client can commit for a very long time.

  21. Many companies still look at social media as this mystical creature. it is time to put your shoes on and come join the party. At the very least create some robust profiles and have a seat at the table.

  22. You make some excellent points.
    Companies are struggling now with where to allocate budgets based on demonstrated value. Setting goals is critical; however understanding how to set realistic goals that are aligned with the potential offered by the social media platform is often a task that many companies find difficult to do on their own because they just don’t understand the new media well enough. Using language one finds on a social media site in an seo campaign can be risky. There is a distinct difference between searching and expressing oneself. The best thing really is “do you homework.” Once again though, many companies are frustrated by a lack of understanding about how to effectively do their homework. Social media isn’t free. It takes time. And time costs money. Like anything, it’s about balancing costs with returns. Oftentimes it just makes good sense to spend the money for the time of a professional who understands how to tap into the value offered by social media.

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