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.