Incorrect Assumption: Social Media is Cheap
Social media is not cheap. It costs, because you have hired good people who do good work that takes time, and it costs. It is an ignorant, but growing, assumption that social media is cheap. Social, is not a cheaper alternative to your other marketing channels.
When working in social and setting budgets for social media activities, you realize that social media is far from cheap. It is simply a different channel with different behaviour. Yes, posting a video, making a status update on Facebook or Twitter might not cost a lot initially. It will cost between 2-5 minutes to splash some random content to a page, but that’s not really what you want to do. And splashing random content on to a page simply because you have access to it, is not the point of having a social presence either.
If social is to be an integral part of a brand’s presence, i.e. tying in, pushing out and implementing the beauty of the work a brand does with what its customers see, so it encourages, supports and builds customer’s behaviour, experience and relation with the brand, then you need to invest in a social strategy.
A social strategy that is planned and well thought through is one that unifies a brand’s understanding and experience of who and what it is and is experienced in the exact same way by customers. Consistency between the message that it’s pushing out and with the way it is being received is key. In order to build a strategy that is elaborate and takes into account the issues I will touch upon below require resources, not just an intern to update a brand’s/company’s Twitter profile.
Social Truth: Social tools may be cheap, but social costs because it requires people who know how and what it takes to do the work and carry it out well.
Advertising is Cheap, Resources and Production Costs Aren’t
Dennis Yu’s (very good, must read) article on How to Run an Effective Facebook Campaign for $5 discusses the costs of specific activities (ads) in social, but annoyingly like many other articles, fails to address that social media, when done right, actually costs.
The article discusses advertising costs, and starts out by explaining how it costs his employee 6 cents to run a demographic profiling on Facebook (result: 80 people out of 600 million) and target this group with specific ads. He then continues to talk about creating a ‘speciality video with a customized message’ on your Facebook landing page, and how this only costs $5.
Yu completely and utterly fails to address resource costs. Finding that piece of information (above) is a lengthy process: estimate duration for the specific task, analyse, contextualise, recommend, approve, apply and then implement, takes time. The actual cost now, for one specific individual social activity (i.e. ‘yes, click, we want to do this’ Facebook campaign for $5!!!) in reality looks a lot different. The advertising you might be buying into, yes, that does only cost you less than $5-10 in total.
Another aspect, articles like Yu’s fail to address, is the quality of the content in question and production costs for content. If you want to go viral and entertain people, better know what you are doing. People have short attention spans and are ruthless. Make sure that if you decide to put a video out there that it’s a quality product that’s fit for its purpose, and will do the job. Creating a video that can sit on your Facebook landing page, requires thinking, planning, insights and a strategy. Ideally a brand should want its community to grow organically because it is the most sustainable way of ensuring your fans stay loyal to the brand.
Social Truth: Brands that make their content work for them and their audience, pay good money for good people to create good quality content that will entertain. Production + Time + Resources = $$$.