A recent article from the American Marketing Association (AMA) Magazine authored by Sujata Ramnarayan discussed the fallacy that social media marketing is “free”. Social media channels are free to enter...but it is later that the costs start piling on. Social endorsements, promotions and not to forget the time spent by your employees, all cost money $.
Ramnarayan explains that the ease of signing up for social media accounts in combination with the explosive use of social networking sites (65% of U.S. adult internet users, Pew 2011) makes it difficult for businesses to measure their return on investment from social media engagement.
Building a Social Media Strategy
Building a social media strategy is necessary in understanding how much money you are actually investing in social media. Once a strategy has been outlined, it is easier to measure and increase your ROI. Knowing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social media helps to determine the value of time spent social media-ing.
Corporate-level involvement is important when building social media strategies and policies, Ramnarayan stresses. She explains that when corporate partners are aware of their business’ social media presence it becomes easier to monitor and guide. This kind of involvement at the corporate level can help large organizations avoid expensive public relations crises (think Chrysler or Aflac).
The Creative Challenge
“Social media tools require an investment of intellectual energy with consistency at short intervals,” said Ramnarayan. This refers to the creative power required of social media managers to stay on top of and remain active within multiple social media accounts on a daily basis.
In managing social media for BlueBolt Solutions, I often find myself challenged when trying to be creative, accurate and interesting several times each day, on several different accounts. I feel as though my tweets, facebook posts, etc. are a reflection of my own creativity and I don’t want to put words out there that I am not proud of.
Ramnarayan explained the challenges of tweeting well, “Even if content is restricted to 140 characters, creating it still requires unique imagination, creativity and an understanding of the target market and desired objectives.”
On top of the creative challenges posed by social media, these accounts also require a lot of maintenance, monitoring, tracking and management. The author mentions Social iQ Networks and Social Mention as tools to monitor, track and gauge social media accounts activity and engagement.
I manage our social media accounts daily using Hoot Suite and Crowdbooster to keep an eye on people talking about and mentioning BlueBolt Solutions and our industry.
Investing in Social Media
Sujata Ramnarayan summed up the importance of social media well in saying, “Social media is here to stay...it needs to be discovered, managed and monitored. It needs direction at the corporate and functional levels to prevent unbridled proliferation without preventing its organic growth. This requires a serious investment in people, time and tools.”
A summary of the original article is available on AMA’s Marketing Power Resource Library. Members can log in for access to the full article.