Social Media Isn’t Free.

Okay, it’s free sometimes. It’s free for me to go onto Facebook, make a profile, find my friends, etc. It’s free for you to read this blog, post a link to it on Twitter and share it on your Facebook page (and I’d be grateful if you did).

But when it comes to your brand, social media is not free.

You may not pay for it every time you use it, but with every campaign, initiative or program there are costs. Even in social media.

Too often brands assume that if they setup their Facebook page (free) and start posting (free) that they will get results like they got with paid media (not free). And that is the big disconnect. Everything has a cost. Sometimes you pay for directly (media) sometimes you pay for it indirectly (hours spent creating content).

If you read my earlier post on viral videos vs. viral campaigns then you know that I am of the opinion that content needs to be great and it needs to be supported. If your brand happens to have achieved a huge social media following without you paying for it (Coca Cola), congratulations, you are one of the lucky ones (but only because you have spent SO much already). But most brands need to be prepared to pay to acquire those fans. You can buy ads that say “like us” or you can sponsor contests or events, but you need to let people know that you are there. And that is not free.

The next thing you need to do is give them a reason to like you. And it needs to be a reason beyond them just liking your product/service. These days it’s just not enough. They need to feel connected to your brand, they need to get content, offers, deals, inside information or something else in exchange for allowing you into their online social lives. And that is not free.

Whether you are buying it or writing it yourself, creating great content costs money. Brands that try to do this on the cheap quickly find that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t willing to invest your money in the message, why should consumers invest their time in it?

Social media can do a lot for connecting your brand to your consumers but it cannot do it without support. Using social media shouldn’t mean eschewing all the tactics and best practices we live and die by in this industry. “How can we blow this out in social?” should not be the default strategy for any program that doesn’t have funding. And if it is, don’t expect very good results.

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About Ezra Englebardt
Account planner, digital nerd, marketing guru, tweeter, occasional blogger, cyclist, snowboarder, mountain biker, social media junkie and avid reader. CU-Boulder and Boston College alum. Frequent guest speaker in Boston-area universities.

One Response to Social Media Isn’t Free.

  1. Pingback: The Title of This Article Explains Why You Will Fail. « Hot Tub Crime Machine

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