Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If you had to pay to be in Facebook ¿Would you continue to use it the same way?

What if social media stop being for free?
This is a perfectly personal reflection that comes from an article I read last week which was referring to us being "addicted to social media." And although I don’t want to consider myself (or realize I am) as an addicted to these things of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other similar stuff, I do have to admit that for some years now, much of my time online is spent carrying out my "digital life’s things” both for personal and professional reasons.

And so far it has been great and I do believe, like many others, that the main advantage of these platforms is that they are free to use. All of them offer you the opportunity to participate without having to spend a penny, obviously putting aside the value of all the hours we have to invest, specially when we are using them to develop and complement our professional lives.

Is it the fact that they’re free the main reason why we use them?

It’s a turning point. Social networks offer us the opportunity to  dramatically connect with the world. In my case, living far away from my home country, they have helped me to maintain a link with my loved ones, friends, and all the relationships I left many miles away.

Now if we talk about the professional environment, then it’s a different issue, because social networks allows us to develop our personal brand, our digital identity in a way that we could have achieved never before. It allows us to contact people who we’ve not even had the opportunity to meet personally, expand our borders, collapsing geographic boundaries to really build a global village.

Could I have ever imagined I was going to be sharing my professional opinion with a businessman in India that has a super large business distributing nuts? Or that the articles of my blog would be read down in Australia? Never in my life. However, today, it’s the most common thing to see happening.

Many companies, perhaps yours included, are embarking on this issue of "social media" pushed by the argument that "it’s free" and that will allow them to "grow their business significantly," not even considering how an intensive job it can become, or the large number of hours that must be invested to develop a proper digital presence. And it's a valid argument.

Many companies, especially smaller ones, are moving forward and successfully, little by little, through the effective management of their social media presence.There's even a large percentage of them that have social media as their only promotional channel in use. And that shouldn’t be the way either, in my opinion.

In any case, one might ask the question: Do they do it because it’s free? or do they actually do it because social networks represent for them something valuable within their marketing strategy?, maybe a combination of both?

What if Facebook were to stop being free tomorrow?

And you, as a company, have made facebook the only channel for your marketing and promotional strategy. What do you do then? Have you thought about it?

In a situation like this, definitely two things could be happening:

  1. You don’t really see Facebook as a valuable thing, neither for you nor your business, as to continue paying a monthly, or yearly, or whatever that is fee, and decide to get down of the train and look for other ways to keep in touch with the world, or
  2. You've recognized the value that facebook (and with it, all other social platforms) can add to your personal and professional life, as well as your business, compare it with what the requested payment would be and you make the decision to continue with your digital life as it was, this time on paying for it.

Now, what if you’re requested to pay more money than you can really afford to pay?

You shouldn’t have a dependency relationship with social media.

Necessarily we all must understand that social media is simply a tool and should never become the one thing we do within our marketing plan, no matter how limited are the resources we have available.

There are many activities that you as a company can do to promote your business, or brand, on and off-line, starting from direct mail campaigns, flyers, in-store promotions, PPRR events, networking, and much more.

Don’t blind yourself thinking that your only alternative is social media, because then you could be losing extraordinary business opportunities for you, your company and product.

Adding social media to our traditional marketing plan.

Some time ago I published an article entitled "It's not a new but overhauled marketing", just referring to the fact that we’re interacting with a bunch of new platforms that allow us to carry out very well developed and effective marketing activities.

However, we must take into consideration that the fact that digital platforms offer us the option to participate for free doesn’t mean we should make them the only place we use to connect with our customers and audience.

Social media should be integrated into a comprehensive marketing plan that addresses all areas of work, from promoting face to face contacts through networking and PPRR events, to spreading the brand’s footprint through all the available venues, both traditional and digital.

What would happen tomorrow if suddenly you had to pay a monthly fee in each of the social networks you participate in with your brand or product? Would you be able to keep on doing it? Do you have other choices?

Related article: It's not a brand new but overhauled marketing.

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