5 common myths about social media expenses

These misconceptions about online networking costs can be costly for your company.

Many businesses dive into social media without fully thinking through their decision because, after all, isn’t social media free? If your firm is one of these, don’t worry. You’re not alone. A lot of companies believe that the benefit of using social media is that it has no costs.

How many of these five common misconceptions surrounding social media expenses does your business believe?

1. Social media platforms are free. Though it’s true that setting up an individual or basic business account on most social media platforms is free, there are other expenses involved in using social media as part of your firm’s marketing and business functions. Tailoring your company’s social media account and ensuring that it’s integrated with your branding require creative resources.

2. Social media encourages user-generated content so we don’t need to pay for content. Because social media feeds on content, your firm needs more than just consumer-created content. Therefore you must produce strong content, with internal resources, agencies and/or freelancers. With expanded content needs, your organization will also require editorial support and copyediting.

Before your business embraces user-generated content, understand that you must allow the good, bad and ugly to appear on social media networks, because if you edit out everything except the positive stuff, the public will know it. Even worse, they’ll use other platforms to broadcast the fact.

3. Social media doesn’t require technology investment. Although social media platforms are generally free, additional technology support is often needed in terms of headcount, systems and/or software. At a minimum, regardless of whether your firm participates in the social media ecosystem or not, you need brand monitoring to track what’s being said about your company, your brands and your employees.

If your firm uses social media to drive sales and/or respond to customer service questions, your social media interactions must be integrated with your current systems to track sales. Further, you must extend your analytics to measure your social media effectiveness. Along with these elements, tailored landing pages are needed to close and track the deal.

4. Social media doesn’t need specialized professionals or additional training. Companies assume a Facebook-savvy intern can handle their social media strategy. Yet an intern doesn’t have the deep company knowledge required to represent your firm. From a cost perspective, assess how much time your employees spend on social media to support your activities. Many firms overlook this expense, because they’re paying the employees anyway. Further, your social media marketing may require different skills from what you have internally.

For example, your telephone customer service representatives may not have the level of writing skills needed to interact on social media. Add to this the fact that your organization must establish social media guidelines to ensure employees know what they can and can’t do on social media as representative of your firm. Along with these social media guidelines, have a crisis management plan ready in case sentiment turns against your firm.

5. Social media works without any other marketing. For social media to work effectively to achieve your business goals, it requires a marketing strategy and tactics that are integrated into your overall marketing plan. At a minimum, your marketing staff’s time and management are needed to let your prospects and customer know about your social media presence and activities.

Before starting social media activities, assess what’s needed in terms of marketing and resources to enable your social media strategies to stay on track and achieve your business goals.

What other misconceptions would you add to the list?

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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