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Social media is not free, but it is very economical!  A lot of the tools - Twitter, Facebook, blogs, are free to sign-up for and use, but in order to have more impact on your target audience, some small investments need to be made. Below a describe some of the expenses associated to the main social media tools.

Twitter is free to sign-up for and use, but it is important to customize your background to be branded for your business. There are free tools to do this, or a small investment can be made by hiring a designer, which would typically leverage existing materials you already have for your website (colors, logo, etc).

A Facebook Page (for business) is free to sign-up for and use.  There are a few tricks to get it set-up correctly and it is important that it is branded for your company. Since there are limitations to the amount of branding you can do, this is generally just your logo. More complex pages require HTML.

Depending on the blogging tool you select, it is either free or has a minimum monthly fee. Although it is important to brand your blog, here, content is king.  The blog does not have to be overly designed, but there should be some reflection of your company or personality.  This can literally be done with a single photograph of stock photo and does not have to involve an entire blog design.  If you choose to do an entire blog design, there is a cost associated to that, but it is not exorbitant.

Newsletters are not traditionally considered social media, however, more and more businesses are using it to distribute the information that they produce on their blogs. The newsletter serves as a mixture of information and a driver to the website. The tool is usually not free, but has a small monthly cost associated with it.

For all of the tools above, depending on how comfortable you are using them, you may need the assistance of a social media coach or strategist (hey, like me!) There are best practices and tricks of the trade you may want to consider investing in by hiring a consultant. This should not cost you a limb and can set you off on the road to success more quickly.

One last thing, although in terms of dollars, social media may be very inexpensive, there is a labor cost associated with it in terms of your time. Social media does require some of your time.  There are methods to ensure that your time is used in a highly impactful way, but there is still a time investment that does need to b made.  The results, however, far outweigh the costs.

 

ROI

02/22/2009

0 Comments

 

People often lament the ROI of social media. This really is a dated statement and yet I still hear it. A better way to look at ROI is not as "return on investment" but rather Risk of Inaction!

Perfection does not exist! And people are very forgiving when they know you are giving an honest effort to try something new. So your blog design isn't perfect, so what? So what if you accidentally "poked" the wrong people of Facebook? And no one is going to flame you if the first time you "Re-tweet" something, you do wrong! Just get out there and do it...where it is appropriate. If you are waiting to have "all your ducks in a row" you could miss an opportunity.

Also don't worry so much about your numbers. You do not need thousands of followers, you need a few influencers. Don't wait to do something because you don't think you have enough traffic. Do it anyway, you may get the right one or two visitors who can make your business explode. It takes awhile to build up a community. You need to do it slow and steady like any relationship. The very foundation of social media is the community or relationship aspect.

Lastly, these days there are tools to measure traffic and performance so you can get an idea of response to your efforts. Analytics can give you valuable insight from a small group of customers in a matter of hours. Your most enthusiastic customers become word-of-mouth agents, spreading the word about your business or your product for free.

Free....that's pretty good ROI....