Social Media Costs to Business

Isn’t Social Media Free?
What is social media? What it is, is an interactive and infinitely accessible tool. It is scalable, has immediacy and currency whilst being very usable to the masses. What it isn’t, is cheap.

One of the greatest fallacies of social media is that it is free. If you are using social media for fun, not profit, then it may be considered a cheap entertainment. However, if you genuinely want to connect with your customers and potential market and be involved in the greater conversation happening constantly, there are costs involved.

The other fallacy is that social media stands on its own. From a clever business perspective this is just not true. Social Media is just one bow in your armoury of a marketing communication strategy.

Let’s talk about strategy, how much does it cost to take the time to research and create a quality marketing strategy? This planning cost starts your social media spend. Whilst your strategy will include multiple marketing elements, social media will bear some of the cost of this.

As part of this strategy you need to carry out research. Knowing the target market for your product or service gives you the back bone of an integrated marketing communications plan. Once you know your target market, then you need to do a social media audit.

Having a complete understanding of which social media platform works best for your offering, how those users like to be communicated with, and creating something that will be a genuine interest for them is the key to your social media foray working. All of this takes time and knowledge which all costs money.

Speaking of knowledge, are you just going to tweet away whenever you have something to say, or are you going to outsource to a professional to run your social media campaign? Would you have your teenager draw a picture for you to scan and add a few words before sending off as an advertisement for the Sunday newspaper? Unlikely. Unless you are adept at copy writing and have a thorough knowledge of social media, it is worthwhile to enlist an expert, internally or outsourced.

Monitoring the social media platforms that you are involved in is a critical part of the endeavour. Positive responses in social media will be reinforced by gracious replies by your team. Similarly, negative responses critically require immediate responses. A great response to negative comments can create raving fans from naysayers. This is a very public forum and if you have issues being raised, whilst you handle them well, you may also find your customers become your advocates to negative comments. This is the pinnacle of achievement in social media. But, all of this monitoring, response and adjustment come at a price.

There is a cost in everything we do in business. In summary, social media needs a marketing strategist (social media expert), a community manager to maintain the social media persona, post and respond to comments and possibly third party specialists to measure. This part of being active in social media could cost over $150000 per annum. $10000 would be a minimum in adding a mobile application to augment your social media and this all adds up to not being a cheap form of media.

In the past, we lamented the lost productivity of chatting around the water cooler, by effectively using social media we can improve our marketing by being willing to pay for it. By communicating strategically using social media, we create our own social media water cooler, invite our customers to it, pay the bill for it, but benefit from it as well.

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