The Hidden Costs of Social Media

social media time costMany articles here and on other blogs have been written about the issue of time when marketing your brand.

Yet there are just as many articles written urging small business owners to have a presence on the never ending list of social networking sites.

Marketing tactics including networking are an important part of marketing your brand.

Especially when you want more customers and want your customers to keep buying.

You know that and today having a presence on social networking sites can make a difference to you business and customer relationships.

However in one way or another you need to ask the question of what is the return you are getting for your efforts.

The reason for this is whatever you do comes back to money.

Specifically revenue generated versus the cost of participating.

Paying a Price

Normally when you read articles or see tweets etc they are often about the potential benefits to you business and how to participate.

These are really helpful especially when you are starting out.

In the end though, you do need make a decision as to which ones are the most effective for your business and customers. Making these decisions can be difficult as they all sound so good and are enticing.

As they are free to join and participate.

Like all marketing decisions you need to make choices especially when your time is involved.

One way I have found that helps is by asking a simple question.

Would I Pay To be There?

If  for example you had to pay $20 each time you participated would you still have a presence on all the social networking sites you are currently involved with?

If you are feeling you need to simplify your activities perhaps asking yourself the question may help you decide where you should have a presence.

As always there are many ways to make decisions, please share how you decide what social networking sites to have a presence on. Do you factor in the cost?



18 Responses to The Hidden Costs of Social Media

  1. That’s pretty cool post. It’s interesting to read and it contains a lot of valuable ideas. Two thumbs up for this post…

  2. Hi Susan, this is great advice! The sooner that we get to effectively measuring both the cost and result of social media, the sooner we start to see genuine ROI. Thanks for sharing, Niall

  3. Hi Susan, I like your idea of using a different perspective to evaluate the ROI of social networks. It’s ironic to me because I belong to a popular blogging community called Blog Engage. Back when I joined 2 years ago membership was free but now there is a $30 registration fee. I honestly have to say that if I saw that fee I would have been turned off against joining – but I’m glad I didn’t have to make that choice 2 years ago because not joining would have been a really bad move. That community has meant a lot to me in terms of traffic AND most importantly relationship building.
    Thanks for the post Susan, we always need to take a step back and be sure we are getting value out of how we invest our time.

    • Hi Ileane,

      Great to see you here. Networking sites do offer a lot and it looks like you made the right decision to join early. I know they are running a contest at the moment and I wonder of other sites will charge in the future. Do they get many people paying the $30?

  4. Hi, Susan.

    More than a year ago, I started spending more time on Twitter and blog commenting. Then, I think it was in the middle of last year that I decided that I am paying too high a price on dwelling more on social media than on actually taking care of my clients. So, I had to backtrack a bit and re-arranged my priorities.

    Now, while I still spend some time on social media like Twitter and going around the blogosphere, I make sure that I am doing it in moderation. This way, I have time to take care of my clients as well as spend more quality time with the wife and kids.

    Thanks for sharing this lovely post, Susan. 🙂

    • Hi Wes,

      Moderation as they say is always good 🙂 You bring up a great point and it is so easy to spend time on the sites and not even being aware you are neglecting clients. I am sure you business and clients benefited when you re-arranged your priorities.

      I am glad you still find time to visit here Wes and share your thoughts.

  5. This is a great topic Susan. Often, people don’t value their time and we all should. I am very conscious of the amount of time I spend on social networking sites. I believe it’s necessary for me to keep a presence on most of the major social networking sites. Keeping a presence doesn’t translate to spending a lot of time on all of them. I know which sites are driving traffic to my blog. More importantly, I know which sites have helped me build awareness of my skills because I track how/where I’ve interacted with the clients that I have now. Additionally, I know which sites that the people who are providing me with referrals participate on.

    Even though I’m not as active as many bloggers on Facebook, I still have obtained two clients from that site. Also, I was recently at a small event and I was surprised when the conversation turned to my FB posts. I had no idea that so many of my friends and neighbors were reading my posts and shares. Since many people are looking for ways to work for themselves, I’m building brand awareness in small simple ways that aren’t taking a lot of my time but are building awareness for the future.

    So, would I pay to participate? I would definitely pay to continue on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and in the future, I’d spring for Google+ too.

    • Hi Sherryl,

      You are one person who seems to have it down to a fine art and it is obviously paying off for you which is terrific and a great example to follow. For many unfortunately they don’t have a clear idea of why they are there or the purpose and awareness in the very least is one of the first steps. Really pleased to hear your business is taking off and sure it will continue in 2012.

  6. I see the logic in your question and agree with the concept of looking for value before you spend time somewhere. But if I had to pay I wouldn’t use any social media – more accurately, I probably would never have started using it as I couldn’t justify spending time AND money on it when I wasn’t sure it would benefit me at all.
    I also think fewer people would use it if it wasn’t free so the benefits would be less anyway, but that’s my analytical mind going overboard 🙂

    For me, Facebook isn’t doing much for my business – I think most people are on there for fun not to learn. Twitter is proving more useful and I enjoy the information and connections I also get there so the ROI is not just about number of clients/sales it brings in.

    • Hi Tash,

      I agree with you that fewer would use them if they were not free and I don’t thin your mind is going overboard 🙂 It isn’t all about money but in many ways it follows a similar path as offline. In the end most are looking to get something tangible out of it. Glad to see Twitter is working for you.

  7. Hi, Sue. You’ve asked a very important question AND given a characteristically elegant answer. You’re jolly good at that. Please keep it up! Best regards, P. 🙂

  8. Smart idea Susan, to ask yourself if you would pay to be there?

    People really should ask themselves that since spending time on a social media network that isn’t making money for them is actually costing them money.

    Which sites are right for a business depends on what they do and they will initially have to do trial and error.

    For me just promoting my articles Linkedin and Twitter are the best social medias. Not sure I would pay for G+. More likely Facebook.

    Having said that I’m not sure how much business is being done because of Linkedin? Honestly don’t think the figure is that high. Let’s be honest most members are not in a position to make a deal, they just like to give the impression they are important. And then there’s another category of members who would just take you to the cleaners. Get such business proposals all the time.

    • Hi Catarina,

      You are right it does depend on your business as more information is coming out about who is using each platform.

      I am similar to you, although I have a feeling that Google + is going to be a necessity if you want to appear in searches. Time will tell.