How Much Will Brands Spend on Social Media in 2011?

Regardless of where your company or organization sits on the social media adoption curve, one thing everyone is interested in – from brands to vendors and agencies – is how much money is being spent on it.

Industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group recently asked 140 corporate social media strategists how much they’d be spending this year. As one can see, the numbers vary greatly depending on the size of the organization:

Here’s what is interesting about these numbers.

The two biggest cost centers are rather traditional ones: staffing and ad/marketing spend. Those two categories led the list:

One of the things Owyang correctly notes as a takeaway from this research, and something PRNewser reported on from his panel discussion at last year’s SXSW conference, is that a company can never hire enough community managers or social media first responders. As Owyang states in his more recent post, “1:1 dialog with customers does not scale –you can not hire enough community managers to keep up with the growing number of customer voice.”

One of the questions for brands is how to balance the need for more and more staffers with the need to maintain staffing costs and scale social media programs via best practices, technology, and an “unpaid army of advocates” — aka, your customers — as Owyang states. How does this research compare to what you’re seeing within your company? Let us know in the comments.