If you’ve built a profile on the Big Three social media sites, you may have been pleased about not having to defrost your credit card to do it. (Yes, a friend of mine once froze her credit cards in a bowl of water to ‘cold turkey’ her overspending.)
Sure, you can upgrade your LinkedIn membership and pay a variety of monthly fees to get more perks. But you don’t have to, and that makes millions of people very happy. Based on nothing but your creativity, ingenuity and inventiveness, you can promote your business for next to nothing.
How free is social media, really? About as free as starting your own business.
Meaning, it’s not. Hence the phrase…next to nothing.
Gauging the true cost of social media is crucial in today’s marketplace. Which areas might end up costing you? Here are several to reflect upon:
As you know by now, there is more to social media marketing than building a profile and waiting for something to happen. A ton of content goes into the best social media campaigns. Even if you’re a copywriter, it’s still going to cost you time (which, ultimately, means money). Images cost too. Getting targeted help can cost if you hire an ‘expert’ to point the way, or buy books and other materials. As well, some social media platforms charge for functionality. You may not care now, but as you grow, you will. And when you get there, you may find you need help from a social media manager, either in-house or outsourced, to keep everything running efficiently.
You’ve heard of Starbucks? They are the Facebook leader. And they didn’t get there by accident. You may never aspire to Starbucks fame, but even in your own tiny corner of the world, promoting your campaign requires a budget, as well as a skilled graphics designer and perhaps a web designer to create advertising.
Google Alerts are great. TwitterDeck rocks. But some day, hopefully soon, you’ll need to upgrade to Radian6 or another paid tracking tool. The freebies just aren’t going to cut it.
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As recently as a year ago, it was all about SEO. Today, it’s about CRO…Conversion Rate Optimization. What good is all that traffic if it doesn’t convert to real sales? Engagement requires focused landing pages, keywords, email, a website, split testing…a host of functions that require tools, and they’re not all free.
Analysis & Reputation Management
Analysis tells you where you’re heading, and when you will arrive. Along the way, analysis, combined with tracking, can assist with reputation management…an emerging industry which seeks to delete or contain negative brand conversations. If you’re not watching listening and responding, what’s it all for?
Who’s doing all this work? In many cases, staff. Customer service, design, technology, administrative tasks…you’re only one person, and can only go so far all alone. Your time is an opportunity cost…not to mention the time/paycheck of a staff member…perhaps even additional staff to engage and communicate with perhaps thousands of connections.
Yes, social media can be free…but not for long.
How are you navigating your way through your own social media campaign?
Victoria Ipri is CEO of Modello Media, Inc., an e-marketing strategy firm based in suburban Philadelphia, PA. She welcomes your questions and comments on this forum, or contact her directly at: ModelloMedia@gmail.com