So they say.
I completely disagree. Social media is expensive. In fact, it’s more expensive than traditional media. It just comes in the form of spending time instead of spending money.
The “cheap” claim is everywhere. For example, Seth Godin suggests summer camp counselors should make videos:
Have your private school or summer camp record a 7 minute video on every student every month (that’s a seven minute a day commitment per teacher) and post them privately. Seven minutes is the equivalent of a three-page personal letter, with far less resistance on the part of the teacher.
Sounds so simple. Seven minutes a day — that’s nothing. All you need is a desktop tripod and a computer-quality video camera — both inexpensive one-time costs. The result is personal and distinctive and a great reason for parents to send their kids to your camp.
Except…. a three-page letter? I don’t know about you, but it would take me a while to write a three-page letter about each kid… every day. And then I’d have to read it in front of a camera, which means I have to wash the mud off my face and cover my zits. (Am I the only guy who wishes it were socially commonplace in America for men to use foundation? I sure would like to hide these blemishes…)
No, this is not a seven-minute job. It’s at least an hour.
I’m not saying it’s not worth it. I’m saying it’s bullshit to say it’s “just seven minutes a day.”
Here’s a different example from the Hubspot blog:
To get into newspapers or on TV you had to pay a lot of money for advertising. On the Internet, you can publish your own blog, pictures, videos and more for very low cost. This is another proof point that inbound marketing is the next phase of marketing.
But wait, when I paid a lot of money to get into newspapers and TV, my message got in front of people. If I publish a blog, no one cares. Unless, that is, I also do SEO and participate in forums and guest-post on blogs and host events and…. oh, hey, what do you know, that all takes a lot of time!
And there’s that “very low cost” phrase again. Let’s ask if it’s low-cost for Hubspot itself. They’ve built a good blog with 8000 subscribers, and they’re driving customers (including myself!) to their Hubspot software. All for “very low cost,” right?
Well they’ve raised $17m and employ over 70 people, over 20 of whom are “Marketing Specialists” whose job is to live and breathe SEO, make blog posts, publish interviews, compile reports, create videos, make podcasts, run webinars, and even draw cartoons. Oh, and they still pay for ads:
Mind you, they’re good at this stuff! Great blog, useful product. And they walk the walk — notice that the #1 natural search result above is Hubspot.
But “cheap?” No way. Want to be successful like Hubspot? All you need is millions of dollars and twenty-odd specialists earning Boston pre-recession salaries.
I’m not saying it’s not worth it. I’m saying it’s bullshit to say it’s “very low cost.”
Of course it’s worth it. Of course this is the “next thing.” Of course those who ignore new media will be left behind. But blogging properly is a full time job in itself (notable exceptions notwithstanding), and a “full time job” is expensive — whether you’re paying someone to do it or spending the time to do it yourself.
If you’re doing it right, social media marketing is probably your largest marketing expense. Let’s stop pretending it can be done on the cheap.
What’s your take on this? Leave a comment and join the conversation!