Wait, Social Media Isn’t Free?


More and more companies start to use social media as an important part of their marketing and PR. When asked about the reasons, most may answer, ” other companies are using social media. It is the trend and most importantly, it is almost free, so why not?”

As the article said, this is one of the common misconceptions about social media. You can create a Face book account and even get millions of fans without spending a dime, but maintaining and making full use of it to achieve a really meaningful result is another story.

The 5 “hidden costs” given by the article are:

1. Staffing. Serious social marketers must invest in not only content creation but also the wide spread of the content across all kinds of social media platforms, which means they must hire more to write, create and post.

2. Monitoring. There are many free tools to monitor your social media channels, but the latest ones, which can monitor not only the volume of your mentions but also the positive/negative/neutral sentiment about the conversations, are not free.

3. Conversation management.

Again, free tools are available but for more complicated functions you have to pay.

4. Content development.

Interesting content takes time to research and create. Pictures and videos, which can get more attentions, are also cost more to create.

5. Paid media.

Facebook can let your posts reach at best 16% of your huge fan base. But for the rest of the fans, you will have to pay Facebook for that privilege.

I think the development of social media is like bottom-up. It started from grass root, and only a free way for fun. But now with mote and more companies start realising and make use of this “grass-root” advantage of social media , things are getting more and more serious.

My question is

Do you think companies should invest heavily in social marketing? If they do, how can they measure the balance between the investment and benefits from it?





2 thoughts on “Wait, Social Media Isn’t Free?

  1. Well, I always do not believe there’s anything totally free. We use social media website free of charge doesn’t mean there’s no cost from us. We pay for our attention to the advertisement. Our live accounts are powerful especially when the number of the account booms. Social media also can track our activities to get information or even sell these information in promotion. All these are the compensation to the company when we are using these for free.

  2. I suppose it depends on the nature of the product and company on how “heavily” one should invest in social marketing. We have discussed in class about some industries such as health that are not quite there yet in using social media, but other companies are highly dependent on the social media traffic, clicks, likes and fans in order to create a fan base which will hopefully been translated into sales. In order to decrease the gap from inspiration and likeability to actual purchase and sales, some companies, such as L’Oreal invest heavily in social marketing by creating videos and draw the public’s attention such as the Zombie Boy, or hiring professional bloggers to act as opinion leaders.
    Up to today there is no certain way to confirm that the social marketing investment will assure you and X specific amount of benefits or a satisfying ROI. What marketers measure today are the interaction, the dialogue and creation of loyal customers- hoping that that can be translated into sales and a valuable qualitative ROI beyond pure sales numbers.

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