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Social Media is Not a Field of Dreams
My blog is often inspired by things that happen in my real life. It is easier to tell something from experience than to make things up. Sometimes those things which happen in real life make me want to scream! I am going to share a good example.
I received a call from a friend yesterday. My friend was seeking some advice about social media, so I was delighted to provide my assistance. The question created one of those moments when I want to scream, pull my hair out, and choke people. My friend wanted to know how to set an hourly price to set up social media profiles for companies.
The question was important to her, because an advertising agency she works with had come to her asking for an hourly rate to help set up client’s accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and etcetera. She was caught off guard by their request, and so she asked me for an opinion of what it is worth.
My friend is a relatively popular blogger, and avid user of social media, but she is not really in the business of social media marketing. Strangely enough, they thought she could help. Since she does not want to turn away business, I feel for her dilemma. In this case, I suggested that providing a service that creates a zero net gain, or even a loss to the client is a good reason to either further educate the client, if they are open to learning, or to walk away from the offer.
I suggested that an hourly rate for setting up social media profiles, as with any other marketing or public relations service, should have a basis in the value to the client. In this case, the value would be minuscule, if not negative, and I explained some reasons this is the case. Of course, it began with the logic that any company who needs somebody just to set up their profiles is not likely to use those profiles for any significant benefit.
Creating social media profiles has extremely low value without a strategy, and without the manpower and mindpower to use them well. If they had that manpower, and more importantly, the mindpower, they wouldn’t need my friend at all. It all got me to thinking that it is like a dog chasing a train. What will the dog do if he catches it? The dog doesn’t know, and so the dog will not get much benefit from the chase.
I want to tell you a couple reasons this is a formula for failure.
Social Media Profiles Do Not Provide Value!
I understand that this may not make perfect sense to everybody, but I am going to try to make this easy. Sure, there are a lot of people who do not know how to get their name on Facebook, or how to create a Twitter username. My mother would not have a Facebook account if I had not set it up for her. My mother is not running a business and trying to promote her name, either.
Think for a moment … If my mother was in business, would it make sense to have somebody set up her account just so she could say “I’m on Facebook and Twitter”? What good is that? Is it so that people who already know who she is could magically flood her with new business? Why would they do that? Let me tell you the truth about this … They won’t!
The value of social media comes when you actually give people a reason to chose your company over the squillion other options out there in the marketplace. If you don’t have a clear reason for people to choose you over a competitor, or to recommend you to their friends because your company is awesome, what is the point? Is it the visibility that is so enticing? I want to assure you that there are millions of visible people who are failing in business. Having a social media profile is not going to make you more successful, and is very unlikely, in itself, to make you more visible.
A lot of people obviously do not yet understand that social media profiles are not going to spew crude oil or reveal a hidden gold mine. Perhaps everybody around you says “You have to be on Facebook” or “There are people making tons of money on Twitter.” The thing they don’t tell you, and probably do not realize, is that social media is not like a Hollywood “Field of Dreams” method for easy success.
This mentality is something I really try hard to understand, and I even try to be compassionate and patient about. The challenge is that when I explain it to people with solid proof, but they still have to learn things the hard way, I end up feeling bad for not having the strength to help them. That is crazy, right? I should not feel guilty for other people’s unwillingness to believe the truth, but I still do.
What About the SEO Value of Social Media Profiles
A lot of people seem to be convinced that there will be a big SEO (search engine optimization) benefit by having a lot of social media profiles. Social media can have an amazing impact on search engine rankings, but it is not why some people think, or hope, or would ask you to believe. The benefit comes when social media is used well, and more of the right people learn about your offerings and share it across their networks and link to your website from other places, such as their blogs and websites.
I understand how the false notion can seem almost logical, because each of those social media profiles will have a link to their website, and more links are a good thing.
There really is a lot of SEO value in social media, but it takes more than just setting up unused profiles. Otherwise we would all be in a race to have the most social media accounts. Some people are, but not the wise ones … not the informed ones. If you ever actually thought that the SEO comes from unused and unknown profiles, think again! Of course, most of the people seeking to pay for such a service would never take the time to read and learn about this, but for your amusement, I offer you some articles on the matter as follows:
100 Social Media Profiles or 1,000 … How Much Do You Want to Waste?
There is a constant pipeline filled with desperate companies hoping and begging for a quick and easy fix to increasing their business’ profit. However, with each company that sets up their social media profiles and endures the failure of short-sighted thinking, comes dozens of their friends and colleagues who will learn from their failure. This means that the pipeline will eventually slow down, and people will have to start thinking before they earn.
When Marketers Sell Negative Value, They Destroy Their Own Market
There is a rule in marketing that a lot of people try to overlook, but it is to their eventual regret. Regardless of the client’s request, it is the duty of a marketing professional to be sure that the client receives more value from the relationship than its cost. This goes for advertising agencies, independent marketing consultants, and in-house marketing departments.
The rule works like this: If the client / company receives less value, in the way of increased business, than the cost of the marketing efforts, it is not sustainable! Trying to work around this rule is like rubbing a lamp and hoping that a money genie will somehow magically come and make up for the screwups.
I realize that the conventional thinking is to give the client what they ask for, and to take their money. I see that as a huge mistake, and proof of a marketer who does not adhere to the same standards they expect of their clients. Good marketing consultants help clients to maintain their marketability and to avoid taking hazardous shortcuts. If the consultant just takes the money and gives a client what they ask for without questioning it, they are not doing their job.
As long as people are set on believing the myths of social media rather than the truth, they may as well say a toast to their own failure.
My Answer to This Question
My answer, if somebody asked me how much it would cost to set up their social media profiles would be something like this:
It will cost a bare minimum of $5,000 per month, and quite easily over $25,000. It will come with a whole lot of market research, strategy, implementation, and a well-forecasted return on investment. That means it will pay you a lot more than you pay me, but that is only if I believe in your company enough to hang my reputation on it. That does not happen with companies who are resigned to believing that simply “being on social media” will increase their profit. Thank you, but no thank you.
If you run your business by placing cost above value, you are making a big mistake. Instead of pouting about how much a successful marketing campaign will cost, it is better to focus on how much it pays. Then the more important factor is how to get your hands on the money it will take to achieve the results you are after.
Yes, I put these here for you to read. I think they can help to emphasize why simply setting up social media profiles without a good strategy is a waste of time and money. You already have an idea whether you can afford me or not, so don’t worry … I am not selling you anything, and my prices will not go down just because you read more of my blog. Enjoy!
I don't just write about marketing - I do it professionally, and I'm delighted to help. If you like what you found here, take a moment and get to know me. I welcome you to contact me here, or on any of my favorite social networks.