How to calculate the real price of a social media management system (SMMS)

12 May 2014 | 05:27 am

The pricing of some social media management system (SMMS) would leave even the best finance directors scratching their heads.  Understanding the genuine cost of implementing a system can be problematic, requiring even the most astute marketing and social media officers to get beyond the marketing and sales fluff to reach the genuine numbers.

Here are six questions you should ask to evaluate the TRUE cost of a SMMS system.

1) What category does this tool sit in? In calculating ROI you need to understand the category of the systems that you are evaluating. Are they a listening tool – affectionately known as ‘buzz’ tools? Do they help you evaluate analytics? Allow you to post to multiple accounts? Provide a customer service function? Manage risk? Or Perhaps a combination of all of the above like the super tools (such as CrowdControlHQ).  Different functions will impact on how you calculate the ROI associated with a SMMS system.  Don’t fall into the trap of signing a contract, only to discover that a vital part of the social media management arena is missing from your product. Be clear on the types of social media management activity required and ensure that the product is fit for purpose or you may fall into the trap of having to purchase additional licenses to ‘plug gaps’ later on.

2) What are the efficiency savings?  We often see that efficiency is overlooked in the debate over whether an enterprise should introduce a SMMS and yet this has a major impact on the bottom line of a business.

There are now many organsiations using SMMS and some great case studies available online.  Research the types of efficiency savings that organisations have made using the specific product you are reviewing.  For example, our leisure sector clients report that Facebook pages are handling many customer service enquiries associated with leisure and sports centres, reducing the number of telephone calls that a reception desk receives.  There are also the direct saving of the time that some managers are taking to manually log in to multiple social media accounts to check engagement and the length of time it takes them to post out over multiple accounts.  What else could your team be doing in this time to drive performance within the organisation?

3) Is the product being sold to you as a monthly/ annual licence?  The investment to build a SMMS is prohibitive for most companies to consider building their own in house system (unless you have a spare couple of million handy). Therefore, Licencing provides a great way for an enterprise to reduce financial risk with the option to change provider later down the line if you are not happy with the service.  But do check if the licence includes system upgrades, let’s face it, social media will never stand still so continuous investment will be needed to keep it updated!

It is also worth checking if the company will give discounts for longer contract periods as there can be some benefit to both the business and the SMMS provider of longevity creating a win-win and potential for a discount.

4) What are the full up front costs of setting up the licence?  Sometimes the advertised monthly fee does not reflect the set up costs.  Where a system is tailored to an organisation, there can be additional set up costs to create your own ‘instance’ or copy of the system for your business.   Implementation across a large organisation will also need training and support for the implementation phase to be a success which may impact on the budget required.

5) Is the price inclusive or are there lots of bolt on hidden extras to pay?  In our experience, this is a really big one! There are providers who charge lots of hidden extras. Reporting is an area where some providers will try to charge you considerably more. Check what features are included in your package and which will be outside your contract.  A feature like reporting is critical for assessing the on-going success of your campaigns and could be something that you need built into your fee.

As your campaign and confidence grows, you may have a need to grow the number of users and accounts that you plug into the system, so ensure that if this situation arises that you do not have to pay more set up costs and that you can seamlessly evolve within the current contract.

6) What are the contract terms?  It is essential that SMMS once underway is continuous. Many platform providers will build in rolling contracts to ensure continuity of service, which generally is in your best interest. However, do ensure that you make a note of any renewal deadlines and the process associated to ensure that if you are unhappy with the service of your providers or your needs have changed to demand a different kind of product that you are aware of the notice period and process.

As the UK’s leading Social Media Risk Management platform, we make a price promise to our customers to be transparent and offer an inclusive fixed fee package so that you don’t get any surprises.