How Are Social Media Management Retainers Priced?

Most small businesses know what social media is but when it comes to the business side of social media marketing management there are a lot of questions and unknowns. What makes it a little harder to sort through? Each social media manager or agency may breakdown their pricing a little different. There are so many companies out there that operate in different ways. (For more on this, check out the 5 Questions to Ask a Small Business Marketing Agency Before Hiring.)

Back to pricing. I once had a client breakdown my retainer proposal by price per social post. That might make sense if I was only posting on the client’s behalf, but there is so much more that goes into most management fees. Below I go over the factors that many agencies or freelancers think of when pricing out management retainers for small businesses.

Will the agency create a social media strategy? Social media strategy is the foundation of any social media platform. A strategy determines who you will be speaking to, what your tone with be, what topics will be discussed, what hashtags will be used, etc. Even if your strategy is only 1 page long, it’s a huge undertaking of research and decision making.

Will the agency be responsible for creating content? Sometimes brands can provide all of their own photos. But often times small businesses want to hand over the reigns completely and aren’t capable of providing photos or videos. In this case, an agency needs to factor in that they will be spending hours creating content to put out every month. Agencies also need to make sure that the content works together and is cohesive which can mean editing and reorganizing for a better feed.

Will the agency be writing the captions? Even if content is provided, most social media managers are creating captions for social media posts. Small businesses are paying for someone to stay on brand and speak to their audiences in a consistent tone.

Will the agency be creating and posting Stories? A few years ago Stories didn’t exist! Now we have another channel within the platforms that need content. Stories are short, temporary, and need to make an impact quickly before getting skipped. It’s almost unfair how much planning can go into Stories just to have them disappear. But that’s the nature of the game and agencies are learning how to take advantage of the short and temporary.

How involved will the business be in their calendar and content? The more a business is involved in their content, the more planning and time it will take to produce and put out content.

Will the business require any special software or reporting? The social media platforms can give businesses a lot of information but some questions require third party software that come at a cost.

Will the agency be engaging with DMs, tags, and comments? (What I call passive engagement). This has been common social care in the social media world: engaging with tags, DMs/private messages, and comments. It takes time to check in on accounts daily and engage with users. It takes more time if there are questions or issues that must be worked out with the small business.

Will the agency find accounts to follow, engage with these accounts, create conversations? (What I call active engagement). As of late, this active engagement has been what causes accounts to grow the most and see the most return. With this, agencies are doing some social monitoring as well as engaging with similar communities. This takes even more time than passive engagement. It’s part research and part engagement.

With all of the questions above, agencies are ultimately asking how much time will what is required by the business or brand take? There’s a lot more that goes into social media marketing than just posting. I hope this gives you a little more insight into a social media marketing retainer. It really just depends on what is required and the level of skill the marketer or agency has!


Conquer + Flourish is a marketing agency based out of San Diego serving businesses locally and beyond. We specialize in providing services that small businesses need but might not have the time to dedicate to or know where to begin. From creating a comprehensive marketing strategy to managing your day-to-day needs or even occasional consulting to keep you on track, Conquer + Flourish is dedicated to helping business owners and managers focus on the business they love for continued success.