What is Social Media Costing You?

If there’s one thing a lot of small business owners absolutely love about social media marketing, it’s that it usually carries a pretty low upfront cost to get into. You have to set up profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and the other major social networking sites, of course, and add content, but it isn’t like pay per click advertising, which can mean big expenses to get your campaign moving.

Make no mistake, though… social media marketing is going to cost you something.

We’re not talking about a hidden expense, although there are more ways to advertise on sites like Facebook than there were in the past. No, what we’re talking about is an investment of time – something that’s easy to lose track of if you aren’t watching it closely. It’s not unusual for us to meet business owners who are spending more than an hour a day on social media, even though they aren’t sure what the short or long term benefits have been. Is that always a good use of their time?

Here are some quick tips for getting the most out of your social media marketing plan, and not letting it take up more of your attention than it should:

Set a plan and stick to it. If you decide to spend 30 minutes a day on social media marketing, set an alarm and don’t go over that. It’s just too easy to find yourself looking at friends’ vacation photos, or playing games, and lose track of what you should be doing.

Track the results. It’s not always easy with social media, but try to get a sense of whether your posts, tweets, etc., are bringing new customers in. If not, figure out what you could be doing differently to make them more effective.

Be true to your brand. Be sure your social media outlets are always custom-designed to match your company’s branding guides. Consistent use of your logo, popular product or services photos and your general mission statement helps customers and prospects easily recognize your company within social media.

Enlist some help. Remember that you don’t have to manage your social profiles all on your own. In fact, some marketing firms in Madison now offer the services of a community manager who can make posts and track contacts on your behalf – letting your social media marketing plan roll-on while you handle other parts of your business. Tingalls dips into this a little bit depending on what needs you have. At the very least we can help you with your profile photo icon and cover photos.

Should any of this be taken to mean that you shouldn’t be trying to find new customers on social media sites? Absolutely not – they’re a fantastic and growing way to increase the size and scope of your business. But what you shouldn’t do is write yourself a blank check for time spent on social networking sites. They might be fun, and take less out of your marketing budget than other tools, but you can be sure they’re still costing you something.

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