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george pitoulias gpitoulias στο gmail.com
Παρ 11 Μαρ 2011 13:32:26 EET

Τέλος πάντων, για όσους δεν το διάβασαν το άρθρο ήταν αυτό:

The High Price of Free

An interesting confluence occurred a couple of years ago. Just as the
economy was siphoning away money for advertising and marketing, a promising
class of inexpensive tools was breaking out of the cutting edge and into the
discussion. Blogs and tweets and posts and the like held the promise of
connecting companies with their customers and their future customers, for a
fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. However, along the way,
someone forgot to set the expectation that "Free" comes with a lot of added

If you're on the cusp of your first foray into anything related to Social
Media, pay attention and factor these costs into your budget:

*1) "Free" means instability*

When you are paying for the services involved, you have a contract with
certain guarantees of uptime. However, when you are building your online
presence on someone else's platform, you run the risk of their associated
traffic outages. A couple of months ago, I was investigating how various
businesses were using Tumblr.com to generate their own corporate news and
information feed. Rather, I was trying to investigate it, when I was
suddenly unable to access their servers. Neither was anyone else, for that
matter, for about a day-and-a-half.

Recently, while setting up a Posterous site for a co-worker, we ran into a
major outage lasting hours.

If you're trying to enhance a service or a campaign, you might be able to
survive on free providers. But you are at their mercy.

*2) "Free" means no support*

Facebook, Google and Twitter support more than a billion accounts among
them. How many people are in their Support departments? Are you ready to
spend all of your time going through self-help and FAQs and user forums to
find answers to your questions? Be prepared to find a small community of
people who would be willing to help, if only they knew anything themselves.

Now, there are aspects of that connectivity that you can't replicate
anywhere else. If you're going to be on Twitter and Facebook, then you're on
their platform because they own all the connections. Just don't be surprised
if you don't get great response times for your issues.

*3) "Free" means you're volunteering your labor*

Sure, there's no set-up fee and no hosting fee and no ongoing maintenance
fee... but these social networks don't populate themselves. More importantly,
they don't spend the time to research and discover the content you ought to
be connecting to your customers. Most importantly, they don't know a thing
about your strategy, your needs, or your goals.

You obviously do know what all of those things are, and it makes sense that
you would be involved in representing your organization online. But unless
you're willing to write off all your activity as pro bono, then there is a
cost involved.

*4) "Free" means vanilla*

Vanilla is a fine flavor, and it goes with almost everything. Unfortunately,
it also goes with everything else.

Prepare to spend a lot of time in figuring out how to make your social media
destination look like everything else you own online - or be prepared to pay
someone to do that for you. If you cut corners, you dilute your branding,
and that isn't getting you anywhere.

*5) "Free" means starting from scratch*

This may be the most important. It makes no sense to be in social media for
your business or organization if you're unwilling to put some advertising
support behind it.

Let me repeat that.

*It makes no sense to be in social media for your business if you're
unwilling to put some advertising support behind it.*

Every Facebook page starts with zero fans - every Twitter account starts
with zero Followers (and the ones you can buy are worthless to you) - and
every blog starts with zero subscribers and no organic traffic.

If you don't tell anyone you are out there, they will not find you quickly
enough to matter.

The biggest mistake in "doing social" and the number one reason social media
underwhelms is that there's no support for it. It's as though companies buy
into the Myth of Free, and ignore the need for any promotion of how they are
communicating. If you're going to be on Twitter and Facebook, let's see the
logos on your site, and on your ads, and on your billboards, and on your
email signature, and on your letterhead...

*Calculating the cost of "Free"*

Now we're actually in a better position, because once you've eliminated all
those false zeroes out of the equation, we can calculate just how much
return on investment you will see from participating in Social Media.

The best way to think about this is compared to the cost of your current

   1. How much did you pay for pre-design research?
   2. How much did you pay for design?
   3. How much did you pay for usability studies?
   4. How much do you pay for hosting?
   5. How much do you pay for analytics/measurement/site-tracking?
   6. How much do you pay for integration with marketing resources and mail
   7. How much do you pay for search engine optimization?
   8. How much do you pay to generate new content and update your site?

Now, look at those costs, and think about your social media outlets as
microsites with much smaller costs. The platforms already exist, and they do
many of those things on the list for you (specifically #s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6,
and 7). Yes, there is skinning and additional content to deal with, but
you're not starting from scratch.

If you wanted to build a microsite that would attract 100,000 visitors in 90
days, how much would you spend on that page? Now, could you attract an
analogous number of desired eyeballs to similar content through social
media? For less?

Often, the answer is yes. Even better, the answer becomes "Why not do both?"

*The Hidden Cost of "Free"*

That's the real secret of social media marketing: it's not free and it's
never been. What it does is give you additional tools to use to achieve your

Tagged as: advertising<http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/advertising-ads/>,
Blogging <http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/blogging/>, cost of social
media <http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/cost-of-social-media/>, free
economy <http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/free-economy/>,
social media cost
Social Media Marketing<http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/social-media-marketing/>,
social media marketing
social media pricing<http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/tag/social-media-pricing/>

About Ike Pigott

Ike Pigott

In his previous life, Ike Pigott was an Emmy-winning TV reporter, who turned
his insider's knowledge of the news cycle into a crisis communications
consultancy <http://positiveposition.com/>. At the American Red
serving as Communication and Government Relations Director for five
southeastern states, Ike pioneered the use of social media in disaster. Now
-- by day -- he is a communications strategist for Alabama Power and a Social
Media Apologist <http://occamsrazr.com/about-the-author/speaking/>; by
night, he lurks at Occam's RazR <http://occamsrazr.com/>, where he writes
about the overlaps and absurdities in communications, technology, journalism
and society. Find out how you can connect with Ike
<http://ikepigott.com/>or follow
him on Twitter at @ikepigott <http://twitter.com/ikepigott>. He also
recently won the coveted "Social Media Explorer contributing writer with the
longest Bio" award.

Other posts by Ike Pigott<http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/author/ikepigott/>

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