Social Media Marketing Is Not Free (From the Archives of the Old AdTex Interactive Blog)

A business associate and I recently discussed the challenges of “monetizing” Social Media Marketing Services. We exchanged theories about why paying professionals to handle Social Media is such a tough sell to many small-to-medium-size business decision makers.

It all boiled down to the cost of the mediums (alternate plural for media) or the lack thereof. A Twitter profile, a YouTube membership, a Facebook personal profile and even a Facebook Business page all cost the user absolutely nothing.

So, the reasoning goes, “Why pay someone to do something that’s free?”

My answer is “Because Social Media is about ‘socializing’ but Social Media ‘Marketing” is about making money…and we have always been about our clients making more money!” That’s why we provide interactive advertising that engages your customers to entice them to buy your product or service.

Times are still tough and unfortunately, marketing is often where the first and deepest budgetary cuts are made. Maybe many managers think that employees are burning enough company time on Social Media sites that they can’t justify paying a full-time employee and certainly not an outside agency to do it. “Working” the Facebook page often becomes the part-time, “side” job for a staffer.

Those much-appreciated returning readers of this space are familiar with my oft-repeated “blog bites”, like “Social Media Marketing is a full-time job.”, “Many websites and Facebook pages are no more than ‘digital pamphlets’, lying on the receptionist’s desk, undistributed.”, “An unattended Facebook page is just a virtual wall covered with graffiti.” and “An effective Facebook page should be more of a ‘virtual hangout’, where the portion of Facebook’s 800 million users who have an interest in your company hang out.”

Take a look at a good selection of small-to-medium-size business Facebook pages and you’ll find loads of apathetic, occasional, text-only, one-way conversation about the company’s products or services. By now, even marginal do-it-yourself Social Media marketers know that effective work involves constant contact, two-way engagement and strong content (the visual and aural digital elements that used to be called “media”). Many of those pages aren’t even Facebook Business Pages (or still sometimes called “Fan Pages”), but are personal profiles, created by an employee who uses it as their company’s digital “message board”. Personal profiles are designed for individuals and fall way short of the inherent marketing functionality of “pages”. The practice is so pervasive that Facebook recently introduced a new tool to allow those using a personal profile for business to convert it to a Business Page.

Another common foible in the SM DIYers’ marketing plan is the belief that all of their Facebook wall posts are being seen by every “Liker” (or personal profile “friend”). They just keep writing those sometimes witty posts, sure their PC-addicted audience is soaking it all in.

It just isn’t so!

Facebook uses a powerful software solution to limit the users that see your posts. Ever notice that you don’t see all the wall posts (actually called a “newsfeed”) from all your “friends?” If you did, imagine the wall clutter with which you would be dealing.

Each item (text, photos, videos, links) you put in your newsfeed is called an “object”. Each FB user’s interaction (virtually “touching”) with that object is called an “Edge”. Your “EdgeRank” is what determines how many users see your newsfeed. Certain factors (called “algorithms”) raise your EdgeRank. Maximum object interaction is key to higher EdgeRank and those text-only “announcement” wall posts are big EdgeRank downers.

We know what kind of content raises EdgeRank. We are constantly learning more about SM technology and advise our “3M” clients of our Best Practices for maximum results.

So, my point is that although Social Media sites are free, effective full-time professional Social Media marketing, though economical, is not free. Frankly, bottom-line sales results from Social Media Marketing are sometimes incremental and often nigh impossible to measure. But the modern marketing business model has shifted to full-time, relationship-based customer contact, via Social Media. Customers are on sites, discussing your industry, product or services. You need to be in on those conversations.

Whether you hire full-time staffers or use an affordable, seasoned advertising company is up to you. If you choose the latter, I know a great little company that will help with that.

Come On Into Uncle DJ’s Blog Cabin, Ya’ll!

Readers of the “AdTex Happenings” Blog may know, that after 29 years, I have retired from Interactive Marketing/Advertising/Visual Communications. So, although I won’t be blogging to develop business for the agency, an old “word hack” like me needs an outlet for all the random craziness, crashing around in my cranium.

Since I have spent the last four or five years, absorbing so much knowledge of “New Media”, Social Media and stuff like that, let’s address some personal thoughts on that, namely Facebook.

In my early “Social Meet Ya'” post, I expressed my personal beliefs about the site and others like it. I still believe it’s a tremendous waste of time…albeit a necessary one. I made no secret of the fact that I first created a personal Facebook profile only because it was necessary to have a personal page to own a business (then called “fan”) page.

I tried to create engaging posts to raise my profile’s EdgeRank, ( I explained EdgeRank in another blog post) so more users would see my frequent newsfeeds about AdTex Interactive. I would like to think that the tongue-in-cheek humor, goofy witticism and thought-provoking questions/observations would be entertaining.

I purposely avoided posts about religion, politics, philosophy and such.

My “Friend” count ballooned to over 900. I figure I have met and personally know approximately 90% of those “friends”. Others are associates of associates, folks who I have “e-met” through business networks and some are “friends of friends.” In the aforementioned blog post, I think I said that the majority of those connections would recognize my admittedly non-distinctive voice, if I called them and didn’t immediately identify myself. Some are childhood or college friends, to whom I haven’t physically seen or spoken to by phone for 30-40 years.

Those who have had any significant contact with me, especially within the last 30 years, know something particular about me; I am a blatant and unashamed believer in The Risen Christ and can be a fervent apologist and contender for the Christian faith! That’s the primary thing about me. Secondarily, I am an ordained Servant (deacon) in the baptist church and a dedicated Christian Educator. I have many morally conservative beliefs in which I can be quite unwavering (although always tolerant of others’ beliefs).

Some of my Facebook “friends” and Twitter “followers”, those who haven’t spent significant time with me, might be surprised by that. Even those who know me well don’t think I’m a pontificating, judgmental jerk…at least I would hope not.

Some may wonder, “Why doesn’t he mention his faith on Facebook?” Well, I do. Usually in a reference to something educational, topical, humorous or even in my own, special way — self-deprecatingly sarcastic!

But the reason I don’t use Social Media to evangelize, teach Christian principles or pontificate is I believe it’s largely a waste of time.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with all of the religious and “inspirational” quotes and posts on Facebook. Although I find some are misguided and a few of the folks who I personally know don’t display the principles they post, in real life. That’s not judgment, just my personal observation…which I’m allowed to do on this particular blog, huh? Someone, somewhere is being helped, given hope, inspired and possibly even led to Salvation by those posts. I’m glad they are. But have you considered many of the COMMENTS that are generated by posts with a religious or political bent?

They are highly subjective and most-often opinionated. For the religious posts, you can include all the scriptures you want. Those who are like minded will either simply agree or add their own scriptures to bolster the point (or show their Biblical knowledge).  Those who aren’t will say so in “Comments”, which amount to lengthy “virtual arguments”. The same often goes for politics and all the skewed “facts and stats” used to support ones particular beliefs, either way.

By the end of a long, time-consuming newsfeed string, most will still be believing what they believed before all the typing started. The rationality, passion, fervor, dedication and sincerity of face-to-face or phone conversations are mostly lost in the digital void. Because those emotions can’t be effectively conveyed without facial expression and vocal inflection, the conversation often degenerates into frustration at the least and hostility at the worst (which makes the virtual aspect somewhat advantageous…no punches thrown).  Maybe someone will feel a little relieved by expressing their belief or opinion. But the believers will likely still be believing, the unbelievers will be just as adamant, the conservatives will be even more so and the liberals will be as liberal as ever.

What makes this easy is the lack of actual contact. A feeble, 120-lb. newsfeed poster can be the biggest, baddest bully on the web, while in the privacy of their dingy basement, basking in the glow of their PC’s display. The humility of a burly, 6′-4″, 250-lb. guy isn’t quite as apparent as he pokes at the touchscreen on his tablet computer or smartphone.

Single-minded commentary on a single subject, on which two or more people might vehemently disagree, lacks the opportunity to discover their common interests and beliefs. Imagine a super-conservative Tea-Party mother meeting a liberal, former-flower child housewife as they’re both perusing the same craft book at the mall book store? As they go to the connected Starbucks to discuss it, somehow, politics enters the conversation and their differences emerge. I believe (and maybe it’s just me?) that they would be less likely to get into a bloody fistfight over “Obamacare”, knowing that they are both basically good mothers/wives who both love scrapbooking.

That’s less likely to be the case on Facebook.

So, what’s my point? I don’t know. I lost it, somewhere at about 1/3 into this rambling diatribe.

I guess I’ll say, “I don’t waste much time discussing deep or controversial subjects on Facebook, ’cause it really doesn’t matter…coming from me…to those who don’t really know me. Those who know my passion, my deportment, my strong points, my shortcomings, my struggles (and I have struggled mightily…at least financially…here lately) are mostly like-minded and, like me, need encouragement more than evangelizing.”

To everyone else; If I’m blessed to get to know/meet you, you’ll see what I’m talking about. I hope we both are enriched by the encounter and/or relationship.

And don’t worry, this should be the last somewhat-deep-subject “Uncle DJ’s Blog Cabin” post you’ll see.

I hope to use a bit of wit, introspection and my trademark snarkiness to either dazzle you with brilliance or at least baffle you with bull… (saying the word you were all thinking would be quite un-Christlike, wouldn’t you say?)

So, tell your friends to drop by Uncle DJ’s Blog Cabin. There’s always something good inside.