The True Cost of Social Media for Businesses

I recently came across a great post and set of stats from Chris Abraham on Google+. The article “True Costs of “Free” Social Media Marketing Costs Make Outsourcing a Viable Option: Social Ally Research Shows That Effective Use Of Social — Including Monitoring, Research and Content Creation — Can Cost Up To $300,000 Per Year” lists research and statistics that I find to be pretty accurate, depending on what size business you have. I have worked in the  social media / tech / online media field as a business owner & service provider since 2006 and have worked with $7m – $10m+ companies. Chris’ suggested price ranges are on target. From the article, expect to pay:

  • Around $10,000 : An in-house social media manual and online training course
  • $1,500 to $10,000 a day : Hiring a trainer for on-site workshops
  • $5,000 to $100,000 : Technology costs such as blogs, mini sites, video equipment, custom Facebook tabs and apps, online newsroom and mobile apps

Of course a company with under $1m in revenue or just a handful of employees need to “DIY Social Media”, but it’s stil not *free*. I have found that smaller companies actually need more help getting ‘out there’ in social channels but have much less resources to get it done. Larger companies usually have a better defined sales, marketing, and service funnel that can more easily be adapted to incorporate social media. Smaller companies (myself included) generally fall into the category of “doing everything, all the time, by all possible people”.

The issue for me? “Knowledge is knowledge” and because a company doesn’t have the resources to pay doesn’t mean the knowledge is worth less and can be deeply discounted. When I charge $7,500 to one company for a day of training & materials and then get asked by another to provide the same training & materials for $300 it’s tough. The small company shops elsewhere and ‘get what they paid for’ for their money and it’s usually not great. I want to help, really I do – and on very rare occasions I take on the work at a nominal fee. The small company makes out for a steal, I am left scrambling to make up revenue, and my other clients feel ripped off. There has to be a better way.

The reality of it is that small business owners are left to fend for themselves (the DIY part), but still need guidance and solid resources to educate themselves from. The worst part? The business owners can’t afford the _time_ either of themselves or a key employee to dedicate. The idea of “DIY” learning what they need to know – let alone spend an hour or so a day, every day, in practical use of social media communication – is nearly impossible.

The solution? First, business owners need to realize they need to find time to learn, strategize, and deploy a social media plan. Women business owners (in my experience – this is not always the case) have less free time due to family obligations. The average American watches an average of 34 hours of television a week - that’s the first thing to go! (For the record I do not watch ANY television, I work no less than 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there really isn’t any time.) Once you find that extra hour or more a day, business owners need to read, research and retool themselves. Books, conferences, offline/online training, membership sites, and “watch & learn” from other companies online. All this while trying to maintain and grow your core business.

As a small business owner, where do you go to educate yourself to promote your business within social media? What things are time-sucks for you and what is actually successful for you? Do you hire consultants or outsource help? Do you feel you are making progress or slipping behind?

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Facebook Mistakes Every Business Should Avoid

Using Facebook for your business is a vital piece of your marketing plan. You have your personal account on Facebook, you have found every high school friend you ever knew (or never wanted to see again). After reading many an article on how it can help your business you are now thinking about creating a business fan page on Facebook.

Facebook has taken off so successfully because it has filled a void that was needed in our daily lives. It satisfies the need to connect to friends from the past and keep up with your friends and family in the now. Many a friendship has been reconnected, established and strengthened using these non-traditional forms of media. True story-I found my brother who I had never met via Myspace. But how do you use this form of communication to market your business?

As business owners we are passionate about our brand and what we do. Using traditional media, we know that when we have a sale or a special it is time to shout it from the rooftops. While using radio, television or print this way is effective, you will fail if you try to use the same methods with your social media campaign.

Some tips to remember when building your Facebook page:

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What I Learned In My First Year As A Business Owner

Being a business owner should really come with a handbook. This month marks a year that leaped and let the net catch me as I started my own business, full time. Honestly, I still don’t believe it that every day I wake up I can do whatever I want. Thankfully because I am so passionate about what I do, its usually hitting the ground running but if I wanted to take a bed day that would be fine too. (more about that later).

Some things that I was told, taught or learned that I can share.

1. Work with WHO you want to. It is easy to be very anxious and say yes to every piece of business that comes your way. After all, you are new-who are you to turn down good money? Once you get a good base however, I found that one the joys of working for yourself is the least you could do is work around people you enjoy. They don’t have to be your BFF, but you can set the attitude, the expectation and the dynamic that makes your business yours. Why would you work for someone who didn’t respect your time, your experience and your talent?  What does your boss say about such behavior? Yes, that’s right…you now get to make that choice.

2. Work WHEN you want. I learned a lot about time management and I still have a far way to go. What works for me, may not work for you. Like I mentioned, I spent an entire year working 24/7 with the biggest smile on my face. Any former employers may take a second look of who is writing this blog…but I enjoyed what I did so damn much, that I had to tell myself to stop working…quite the difference between some jobs where it took me an act of congress to work with my whole heart in it the whole time. I rented office space to give me a little separation from it all. This has really kept me focused.

I also did the best to my ability to take bed day at least once a month. There is really no one to monitor you PTO, so a bed day takes care of that. I would do my morning work, schedule no other appointments, kiss the mister goodbye, shower, get into new Pjs, lowered the air, and enjoy a day from bed.. Sometimes I worked, sometime I caught up on TV and chilled and napped. The idea is, it is such a rat race-the least you can do is slow down and pull the cool sheets over your head. It was always exciting when a bed day presented it self…just a random day that nothing was scheduled became the day when I got a little of my sanity back.

3. Say HOW MUCH and go get your damn money. For the past ten years, my paycheck depended on how much I collected at the end of the month. So, I became really good at becoming Louie the Bill Collector. Starting your own business, you can set your own billing rules…I keep my prices aggressive, and make sure that everyone is crystal clear on my billing policy. Because my work is creative, I feel that a cash-up-front- or front of month is pretty mandatory. If someone decides to stiff you, you worked for free all month for nothing. Things I plan to write about soon have to do with this issue. Like the two times that everything was hunky dory with the client and then all of the sudden everything I did was wrong, nitpicking galore and they became a unhappy unreasonable client. You see, this validates the person when they cancel on you out of the clear blue because “this isnt working”, which is code for I am out of money or I am shutting my doors soon. Every single one of my peeps are good pays, and I love them for that.  I stay on them politely and mid month send them a friendly reminder. It goes back to making it a rule to work with good people and dumping the bad attitudes, the non payers and the pain in the asses.

Some of the best advice I received was from my friends who worked for themselves and had some wisdom to share:

  • Don’t hire an assistant to help you work, hire someone to do the stuff you no longer have the time to do-like clean your house. 
  • Be crystal clear about the things that you are good at, don’t be good at 100 things, it puts you in a more focused position to help your client to the best of your ability. Why spread yourself thin? Be good at what you are good at and leave the rest to others. 
  • Stop using the word Just. I just wanted to…is a sentence I start so many times. It sounds like you are making excuses. So Stop. 

I ask you – what have you learned in business??


Darlynn NanganoDarlynn Nangano is the owner of Little Blog Dress, a social media marketing company based in Daytona Beach, FL. She also writes social media for women on her blog The Little Blog Dress. Contact her for social media tips, advice and application that you can understand and use at darlynn@littleblogdress.com.

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