How to make the most of free (or low cost) social media marketing
by Ron Stein
Updated 8 yearss ago
They seem like polar opposites in the world of business -- growing your company while keeping expenses in check. Thank goodness your business has jumped on the social media marketing express. And, it’s free!
Most popular social networking platforms typically don’t charge a fee of any type, or at least have a basic free subscription level. And with an estimated 2.13 billion social network users around the globe by 2016 it’s a marketers dream come true.
Or, maybe it’s a nightmare. This “gift” from hard working tech wizards turns out to have all sorts of costs after all.
Yet, that’s fair. You really should pay for something that offers value and helps expand revenues. But, what’s the big hidden cost?
Well, third-party tools like Hootsuite and SocialOomph, social media management dashboards, are very reasonably priced. The cost of a premium subscription on LinkedIn won’t break the bank either, although they keep raising their prices,
And, online advertising with Facebook and Twitter can be very cost-effective as long as you're smart about how you set up your campaign.
So, in the scheme of things we’re not talking about a lot of money here. Yet, there’s something about using social media marketing that drains your wallet.
You log onto Facebook or LinkedIn to post some great, relevant content to engage buyers and before you know it, whamo -- in what seems like a blink of an eye, thirty minutes of your time is gone forever. Time is money.
Yet, it’s worse than that. As science fiction and fantasy writer Alexandra Bracken said, “I'm sick of wasting time on things that don't matter.” Here’s how to make your time and money matter using free and low cost social media marketing.
Avoid the hidden costs. If you’re not careful and post without rhyme or reason, you’ll burn up precious time; for you, your team, or someone you pay for outsourcing social media tasks. Treat social media marketing just like any part of your business. Set goals, create a plan with timelines, and define needed resources. Then determine your budget upfront -- both money and how you’ll budget your time. Otherwise you’ll suck up your team’s time. And, outsourcing to a cheap intern or self-professed “expert” for $100 a month will get you nowhere fast.
Know where your time is spent. A lot of people are surprised to find that sending a handful of Tweets and posting several articles a week takes the least amount of social media marketing time. You’ll need interesting content, yours or someone else’s, to share and comment on. That takes time to develop or find. Awareness and customer engagement is what social media marketing is all about, and monitoring and tracking all of your social channels is important. That takes time. Then, it’s critical to respond and interact in a timely manner to nurture relationships before you can even think about converting conversations to revenue. That takes a lot of time. Be prepared, have a plan. And at some point you’ll want to spend money on ads -- a major time and money waster.
Social media marketing is an investment – get a return. It’s not easy converting leads to the action you want. In the case of social media followers, likes, and the people who read your posts and advertising it’s even harder. To monetize your time with social media you’ve got to take your best shot initially as to which channels will potentially give you the best ROI. Monitor what’s working and what’s not. Track results such as click through to white papers and webinar sign ups all the way to purchase. If you spend ten to fifteen hours a week on Twitter and LinkedIn with little to show for it, reconsider what you’re doing. Give your social media marketing effort time to kick in, just don’t wait too long to retool your strategies and channels.
Be picky how you invest your time in social media marketing -- wasted time is worse than wasted money. Can you still get enough in the way of opportunities and marketing value to outweigh the hidden costs? Yes!
Just have your eyes wide open and an organized and systematic approach.
Social media marketing has proven to be highly cost-effective and successful for many companies. At least for a business that creates and manages their program as part of their overall marketing plan.
Stop wasting time and money with social media marketing. Start with a bite-sized phased approach with realistic goals. “Free” social media marketing is a gift and your business can’t afford to do without it. But please, be smart about it!
Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com) and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.