Social media is free, right? I hear a lot of buzz lately where people casually toss around harmful statements such as “social media has no cost,” “Facebook is free,” or even “social media is easy.” Nothing could be further from the truth. (Title? It’s a play on ‘Money for Nothin’ by Dire Straits.)
Social media is free, right? After all, it’s free to make a Twitter account, create a Facebook Page and use WordPress for a blog.
Allow me to correct this assumption for you … nothing is free.
So, if these services don’t cost money, what do they cost?
As I serve as the community manager for a kick-ass email marketing company, I sometimes think about my time, ROI and how I can best serve customers and prospects. Sometimes, I invest hours into a single, worthy blog post. I could also invest an hour or two into helping customers as they ask questions through our Twitter and Facebook. I get slightly offended when someone assumes my only competency is shrinking witty thoughts into 140 characters or less. (Please.)
Social media isn’t free — it takes alignment to your marketing strategy and overall corporate growth plan. Publishing scheduled (future) messages could get you in a bunch of trouble. So, banking up a lot of creativity and gushing it all throughout the week will fall flat no matter who you are, Guy.
Social media is not necessarily about creating content. The biggest struggle is balancing creativity with agile, rapid responses to people. This is not something that can typically be billed as a commodity. It’s a service, it’s a skill, it’s a labor of love. I mean, who else in your company will respond to an angry message from a customer at 11PM? In many cases, that prevents further crisis from breaking out. Most importantly, it keeps people happy and taking your brand seriously.
Social media is not about having a billion accounts on someone else’s property on the Web. It’s about having an outward plan, building a groundswell of efforts towards accomplishing goals and building equity with your audience.I’ll get into this later, but just ask yourself, “What if Facebook went away? Would you still have your thousand or so fans?”
Don’t assume that “Twitter is free” or “Facebook is free” when it comes to the ROI of social media. In social media, there exists no zero-constants. Everything is variable. Variable on time. Variable on the outcome. Time is billable; talent is not.
Take note, Computer Corner on KTAR-FM 92.3. I listened to your Saturday program where you advised viewers social media is “free,” “no cost” and “easy.” I understand the intent for ‘selling’ it to the viewers this way. But look, failure is a good thing. It’s how a business learns to listen to customers. While the mechanics of using and establishing a presence on the Web are easy, the complexity comes at the phase of “now what?” The answer to “now what?” often comes from social media consultants, maybe branding agencies, but it comes from within.