Recently, I was contacted by a local, small business looking for a company to handle their social media efforts. In other words, they wanted to outsource their entire social media program.
This small business had previously hired a social media company to do this work for them for a few hundred dollars a month.
And guess what?
That social media company went under.
I’m not knocking businesses with small budgets — far from it. However, I think there is a rampant misconception in the marketplace that social media can and should be cheap.
The Problem with Cheap Social Media
The problem is not necessarily the client’s budget. Though, that’s certainly part of it.
The bigger issue is that many companies have the mindset that social media is just a box that should be checked.
In other words, many business owners believe they need to DO social media, but don’t want to be bothered with handling it. It’s far easier, to set aside a small chunk of money and turn it over to an intern, freelancer or cheap social media team to do the job.
Here are a few reasons why this is a problem:
- You get what you pay for. When you hire a cheap social media team, the focus is on churning out status updates and gaining followers, not on how social media helps you achieve your company’s goals. Not to mention, you certainly run the risk of that person or team going under or falling victim to digital marketing scams and spammy practices that could get your company in trouble.
- You have no skin in the game. For social media to be effective, your company and the leadership team need to be involved and invested in it. When you turn your social media efforts completely over to someone else, it becomes a set it and forget it solution instead of an inherent part of your company’s culture and marketing strategy. If you want to be successful with social media, you must invest the time and money to do it the right way.
- You cheapen your brand voice. When you completely outsource your social media efforts, you are turning your brand voice over to someone who does not have the ability to capture your culture or the shareable moments that happen at your company every day. If you want to have someone on site to do these things for your business, the cost will be much higher.
- You won’t stand out. In order to differentiate your brand, you need to showcase your brand story and the things that make your company unique. However, many cheap services offer generic updates that can be shared across many clients. That’s not going to help you stand out in your local marketplace. These companies also lack knowledge of your local market so they will have less ability to customize the work for your needs.
What an Effective Social Media Program Should Look Like
So, why shouldn’t social media be done on the cheap? Because it takes strategy, creativity and time to execute a successful social media effort.
To give you an idea of what I mean, here are some things agencies and consultants should help you do as part of an effective social media program:
- Conduct research about your brand, audience and competitors
- Develop brand messaging
- Build a comprehensive social media strategy
- Create unique, brand-focused content
- Connect with your audience
- Monitor brand mentions and craft responses
- Provide crisis communications support
- Develop campaigns to support special initiatives
- Coordinate social media with other marketing efforts (PR, email marketing, PPC advertising, etc.)
- Engage in paid social media promotion
- Provide ongoing measurement and reporting
- Tweak and testing efforts based on results
This list just scratches the surface on what a social media marketing company can provide. But, this should give you an idea that there is a lot more to social media than posting pictures on Facebook.
And, as a result, it takes more than a few hundred dollars a month to do this work.
If you want social media to be a strong driver of awareness, sales and loyalty for your business, it makes sense to invest the time and money to do it right.
Cost Effective Social Media Options
If you don’t have a large social media budget, that’s okay. However, there are much better options than finding the cheapest service available.
For instance, you can hire a digital marketing agency to help you build your social media strategy, train your team and set up the tools you need to be successful. Some consultancies, such as ours, will even offer ongoing guidance to help you stay on track with your efforts.
Another option would be to purchase courses or attend social media conferences or workshops that give your team the skills needed to get the job done.
Both of these are cost effective options for small business, but also require a long-term commitment and investment from your team.
However, if you’re not willing to make that commitment, then social media might not be a good fit for your company.
What do you think? Have you ever hired a cheap social media team? How did it turn out?