If you think social media is free, think again. Social media is expensive.
By making most social media applications “free,” companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are counting on low barriers to entry to expand their networks. Don’t be fooled. Social media is not free. It consumes your most valuable resource: time.
When you lose money you can make it again (in theory). When you lose time it’s gone forever.
Aside from the cost of analytics programs such as HootSuite and Radian6, social media consumes your time and resources. (Note: some programs, including HootSuite, offer free services with limited functionality)
I often see people wondering social media pages during work hours. Could their valuable time be spent more productively? (Disclaimer: I, too, have been guilty of this crime.)
Perhaps you’re employing multiple social media applications across numerous platforms. Perhaps not. Regardless, you need to be efficient when managing these tools.
For individuals: maintaining current and, more importantly, relevant content is crucial. Keep your online profiles and blogs up-to-date.
For organizations and individuals: write meaningful content, manage your groups and subscriber lists religiously, and reply to comments and posts quickly. I know of several companies that are hiring staff members solely dedicated to managing social media content and conversations.
Whatever you do, do it efficiently and with a goal in mind. Understand the cost-benefit of social media and always give more than you receive.
For my great uncle who taught me that nothing is free.