When social media first became all the rage, it was touted as being a great free way to earn some buzz and the resultant awareness. While it is free to open up a social media account, set up a profile, and start networking and sharing links, that is not the whole story.
A lot of marketers who have been in the game for several years now had to learn the hard way that social media is in no way “free.” If you are like me, I was enamored with the possibilities when I finally dove in headfirst. I spent countless hours and days building friends and followers lists, sharing links to curated content, and looking for every viable opportunity to “engage” with the widest range of contacts possible.
Then reality set in. What was all of this time and effort really costing me? Was I able to quantify any results? How long would the facade of “free” linger before some real expenses started rolling in?
Most of you are already privy to the fact that social media is, in fact, not free. Let’s look at the hidden costs that you may or may not already be aware of.
Cost of Not Participating
Before we cover the cost of actually taking part in Social Media, it’s important to understand the cost of not participating. I’ve heard all sorts of naysayers complain that they don’t need social media. Common objections include:
- “Who has time to manage a bunch of online link sharing and chit chat?”
- “Social Networking is for personal use.”
- “Social Media is just a fad.”
- “I can’t waste time and attention on social media because I have to run the business.”
All of these objections can be overcome with a reality check (for #2 and #3 – both completely off base opinions) or the proper budgeting and prioritization of support resources.
Business owners need to understand one critical piece of information: The Internet is an unforgiving place. Conversations about your brand and your company are happening as we speak. YOU have the choice to participate and influence the direction those conversations go, or to sit back and hope the masses treat you right.
Do you really trust the general population to put you in a favorable light on their own? The days of controlling our brands and owning our messaging are behind us. Marketing doesn’t dictate branding and positioning for the customers, the customers themselves do. Marketing just gets to give their side of the story to help bring customers along and create brand advocates.
If you don’t play, the game will move on without you. So get in the game.
So, today we looked at social media overall, and the risk of watching passively from afar. In the next installment, we will look at several areas where there are hidden financial costs that go beyond branding. Until then, travel wisely, and re-evaluate your stance if you think social media is a waste of time.