Social Media is Neither Easy, Nor Cheap. Deal With It.

Few days back I had a small discussion with Sanjib about the state of today’s social media industry. It started off with Facebook’s recent changes to its EdgeRank which has restricted the reach of brand pages.

We discussed how this will lead to more paid promotions and how SMBs will be the worst hit. Why SMBs? Because they believed social media is the easiest way to market themselves. And it was us marketers who convinced them about social media. We were the ones who told them of this shiny new thing which is cheap and easy.

We made them orgasm to pointers like ‘1 billion users’ and thousands of followers ‘eagerly listening to a brand’s page updates’. They believed social media to be a world of fairies and unicorns, where everyone was eager to buy their product/service.

But alas! It isn’t. Social media is different.

Social Media is Not Easy

Getting fans is not easy. Reaching out to fans is not easy. Content is not easy. Contests are not easy. No, nothing is easy on social media. Well, except spamming and failing.

If you want to build an army of loyal fans around you, you need to have a good content strategy to back your product/service offerings. Now developing content is the most difficult part of any social media activity. It requires well thought out ideas and good storytelling abilities. You can’t go about posting image updates and expect to get a loyal fan army.

Also, reaching out to people has become difficult. Facebook wants to declutter the user newsfeed, thus restricting your reach. A twitter user is so swamped with tweets from his network that it’s difficult for him to notice your tweets. So don’t get saddened when even 10 people don’t ‘like’ your status update even if you have several thousand people in your community. It is how the social media world works.

And if you joined social media with glittering dreams of going viral, now is the time you wake up and smell the filter coffee.

Social Media is Not Cheap

Yes, creating a Facebook business page is free. In fact, opening an account on any social network is free. But that doesn’t mean social media in actual is free. If you want to run a successful business, you will need to spend money.

You will need to spend money to reach out to all your fans on Facebook. I know they are YOUR fans and your updates should reach ALL of them, but the platform belongs to Facebook. You can at best moan and groan and rant on Twitter.

Also, creating any type of good content requires money. Good copywriters, editors, videographers, animators and artists don’t come cheap. Money makes money.

Agreed, social media is cheaper than TV. But it may not be the case tomorrow. Every social network out there is trying to monetize and make moolah and it’s the businesses who will help them. Not users.

But…. Social Media is Effective

The level of targeting options we have today are amazing. Interest based advertising are a good companion to the good old keyword-advertising. With such level of super-targeting, TV and print stand no chance.

Also, the tools that we have in our hands today can be used to make magic. You can listen and monitor vast amount of data and filter any noise that is irrelevant. Now integrate it with Big Data and predictive analysis and we are looking at a future that can only be awesomer.

My Humble Request to Social Media Marketers…

Please don’t pitch social media as one-stop-shop solution. Please don’t portray it as super easy. Please don’t tell your prospects that it is the cheapest thing ever after Nokia 1100. For it is not.

Look beyond marketing. Social media is so much more. From HR to CRM, social media be used to lots of different ways.

It’s time we move away from Social Media Marketing and adopt Social Business.

Image by JD Hancock