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How much does ‘Free’ really cost when it comes to Social Media?

March 4, 2011

As a provider of Online Newsrooms we from time to time hear “Why would I pay for this when I can achieve the same results with social media sites for free?”

Aside from the the fact free social media sites do not provide the ability to download broadcast quality video, few allow high res image downloads and none provide you with the technical and editorial support we offer, there’s always a hidden cost to anything free.

Ike Pigott’s article on Social Media Explorer is an insightful look at some of the pitfalls of social media campaigns. This article examines some of the myths surrounding social media and clarifies some of the things you sacrifice in order to get something for nothing.

Pigott points out that in order to achieve “free” you have to accept things such as;

  • Potential Instability – when you are building your online presence on someone else’s platform, you run the risk of their associated traffic outages – there’s no SLAs with free
  • No support – unless of course you’re willing to trawl through user forums and FAQs.
  • Labour costs – effective social media campaigns require staff to control them
  • “Vanilla flavoured” – meaning that you have very little control over how well you can match free platforms to your own branding.
  • Starting from Scratch – No campaign, social or otherwise, is likely to work without the support of other avenues.

There is no doubt social media can be a powerful tool in any PRs arsenal however it should never be the only one.

The old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” applies.

The article is well worth a read – http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/digital-marketing/the-high-price-of-free/

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