Social media advocates often talk about how it is free to use social tools. It costs nothing for a company to sign up on LinkedIn, or to create a customer page on Facebook – suddenly it should be possible to create a customer experience that costs absolutely nothing.
Unfortunately this really is a myth. Many companies fail to consider the true cost of Social Media. The implementation of a Social Media account may entirely free, but implementing a truly effective Social Media campaign and managing a Social Media presence requires a continuous investment in time, effort and money.
Some of the costs to be considered are:
- People and Time. That is where most of the costs are. You may need one or more dedicated employees, or other employees will need to make time available to manage Social Media campaigns or the Social Media community.
- Internal Expertise or Outsourcing: if you don’t have the skills and expertise necessary in-house, then you’ll have to spend time getting up to speed, or hire professional help outside.
- Advertising: Just having set up a Facebook page doesn’t mean that people will actually visit it. In most cases you will have to spend time and money to make that happen. This can include efforts on your own website (such as Social Bookmarking), email newsletters, targeted adverts e.g on Facebook etc.
- Technology: To measure the results of your Social Media campaign you will need metrics and some tools to create them.
With effective management, it can be possible to create customer-to-customer interactions within a social environment, effectively one customer helping another. But to reach this stage takes time and compelling content – a reason for customers to be visiting the pages you are creating.
It might be free to register those social accounts, but making the strategy work needs time, effort, and some budget for it to be a success.
Photo by Blatant World licensed under Creative Commons