Debunking Six Social Media Myths
For companies, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people are creating content for the social Web. Your competitors are already there. Your customers have been there for a long time. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it ought to be.
But before you take the plunge, bear in mind the many myths that surround social media.
1. Social media is cheap, if not free. Yes, many of the tools that can be employed in social media marketing are free to use. These include Google’s (GOOG) video-sharing site YouTube, Yahoo’s (YHOO) photo-sharing site Flickr, the social-network building tool Ning, and content aggregators such as Digg and eBay’s (EBAY) StumbleUpon. Free blogging tools abound too; among them are WordPress, Twitter, and FriendFeed.
However, integrating these tools into a corporate marketing program requires skill, time, and money. The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months. I’m sure companies have spent less, and I know they’ve spent more.
Building a site that incorporates interactivity, allows user-generated content, and perhaps also includes e-commerce doesn’t come cheap from anyone who knows what they are doing. Even taking free software like WordPress and making it function as an effective interactive site, incorporating e-commerce, creating style sheets that integrate with the company’s branding, takes more than time. That takes skill, experience, and money.
As a rule, a $50,000 to $100,000 budget can cover the creation of a simple multimedia microsite that becomes the center of an online community. Add in some widgets to help distribute the content and form a credible group on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook and other networking groups to enhance the community aspect of the campaign. Complex functions add to programming and design costs.
A high-yield, highly targeted blog advertising campaign to kick off and support the program will cost an additional $25,000 to $100,000 a month. Advertising through Google’s AdWords, e-mail support, co-registration, and other tools that drive traffic would be additional costs.
2. Anyone can do it. A surfeit of whiz kids and more experienced marketers are claiming to be social media experts and even social media gurus. Search the bios of Robert Scoble’s 56,838 Twitter followers using Tweepsearch (www.tweepsearch.com), an index of the bios of Twitter users, and you’ll find:
- • 4,273 Internet marketers
- • 1,652 social media marketers
- • 513 social media consultants
- • 272 social media strategists
- • 180 social media experts
- • 98 social media gurus
- • 58 Internet marketing gurus
How many of them have actually created a successful campaign for clients using social media tools? I bet you’d be hard-pressed to find half a dozen with real track records.