This past week, B.L. Ochman wrote a BusinessWeek article, “Debunking Six Social Media Myths.” While his core themes are on track, the messages also pointed solely toward big business. That’s fine as far as it goes, but what about everyone else? A few comments begged for a bit more…
(1) Social media is cheap, if not free.
Ochman indicates an, ‘…effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50,000 for two to three months.’ Better yet, he goes on to suggest a $50-100K budget for a simple multimedia microsite…with an ongoing budget of $25-100K/month. To be honest, I think you could exchange ‘social’ with ‘traditional’ and be just fine here.
In discussing social media efforts with people, I find that most do not see it as ‘free’ or even cheap. Most are aware this is something very new to them. They’re concerned about missing the train and have a gut feel (as budgets crumble all ’round) they better learn, quick.
Can you spend these amounts? Sure. Do you need to spend even 1/10th? No. It really comes down to how big a splash you need to create, and how fast. If you’re a large company that wants to make a major social media splash for a product you’re launching three months hence, want massive glitz and rapid recognition–pay big bucks, Now.
If you’re a smaller firm (e.g. Me Inc.), you can do quite well in your target market for a very small amount, perhaps only your time if you have the required skills. Social media is increasingly about, content, presence, persistence, and driving your brand forward. If you’re an entrepreneur, your marketing campaign may include your business card, email signatures, a dedicated site (ideally a blog site), networking, social networking, and the like…all designed to complement one another. Does it need to cost $1K, $100K? What do you think?
(2) Anyone can do it.
Like anything successful, it works best if you have a target in mind, a plan, and the means to achieve it. ‘Anyone’ have the technical skills required? Perhaps not. But many of the tools are becoming so highly automated and streamlined that, with some self-education, almost anyone can do it.
Consider the social media marketing campaign mentioned for the entrepreneur above.
(Let me interject a moment: A ‘social media marketing’ campaign does not solely exist stuck in a website somewhere. It is a multi-faceted effort that needs to be an integral part of your overall ‘media’ effort…)
Take this Can Anyone Do It Test:
- (Yes/No) Make your own business card
Go to microsoft.com, or avery.com, download template, add detail, print on perforated stock or go to your printer.
- (Yes/No) Add/Create an email signature
Include your blog/website address, along with Twitter, LinkedIn, or other info to your email signature.
- Get your owndomain.com
Go to networksolutions.com, godaddy.com, or shucks, probably your own ISP these days, and sign up for one.
- (Yes/No) Create your own website
Go to WordPress.com, Blogger, TypePad, and other services. They can have you up, online, and blogging in minutes… If you can bank online, you can use one of these services.
- (Yes/No) Print media
Go to microsoft.com, or avery.com, you can typically find matching stationery for the business card design you selected.
Can Anyone Do It? I suspect you’ve already determined the answer is Yes. If you add it all up, discounting your time, you probably won’t break $250. Owning your own computer and Office software isn’t even a must (though you’d probably want to).
Seriously, there’s work to be done. You still have to do all the same hard marketing work you did before. What is new, is the nut and bolt mechanics of this wonderful new delivery medium, this new sandbox we have to play in. You will still need to select a color scheme, a font, and then make sure everything matches (e.g. print collateral). You’ll have spent numerous hours learning about blogging, perhaps experimenting on a test site before going ‘commercial’ with it. You’ll develop social networking profiles. Participate online. Read, talk to friends, educate yourself. The learning is a never-ending part of your efforts. But.
You can do it.
If you absolutely insist on snazzy higher-end graphics, yes, the dollar meter will start clicking faster–but is a super-cool graphic image important–or the message and content you want to communicate?
(3) You can make a big splash in a short time.
This is the best section in the article and I wholly agree. The comments seems of a different flavor compared to the others. As I mentioned earlier, the bigger, the faster the splash is to be, the more effort’s required. If you’ve been methodically plugging along, working your plan, your efforts will yield results.
(4) You can do it all in-house.
Ochman’s response here seems to reflect the perception of someone who only tackles ‘major’ media accounts. You may indeed elect to bring in external help. Maybe you do have a competent person on staff. Don’t dismiss the notion out of hand.
I reside in-between University of Michigan and Michigan State University. I guarantee there are recent marketing grads able to serve as a one-stop shop for many a small business’ initial social media ventures. You will likely want them to partner with someone to make up for their lack of real-world experience in your industry–but they’ll likely have the skills you need to get off the ground. Just don’t weld them to someone inflexible, stuck in the past, unable to accept new ways of doing something.
My key goal today: Help you realize you can do it. And if you decide to get help, that’s great, but don’t be scared because someone in a major new periodical claimed you can’t get started for less than $50K.