Ever since social media started establishing itself in everyday life, marketers rejoiced that they’d finally found a way to promote their brands that wouldn’t be as costly as some of the other methods they’d been using.
While sites like Facebook and Twitter seem to scream “free publicity,” the truth is that social media marketing has always been something of an investment. The content itself can be costly, and following up and interacting with fans and customers is a full-time job.
If you can believe it, social media content marketing is now a nearly $120 billion industry, and it’s growing quickly. While many companies out there are still small enough that they don’t have to hire a dedicated team to oversee their social media efforts, there are a number of ways that marketers may have to contend with rising costs of promoting themselves on social sites.
Keeping the Conversation Going
Like we mentioned briefly above, utilizing social media is not a one-time thing; in fact, it’s the beginning of a process. The most expensive part of social media marketing – from both a manpower and a monetary standpoint – is maintaining close relations with fans and customers. You can have the greatest content in the world, but staying in touch is the more demanding process – the cost of which will only increase as more and more people join social sites.
The Race for Better Content
For better or worse, the marketing content on social platforms has grown ever more complex over the years. What it means is that companies and brands that are trying to cut through all the noise and distinguish themselves from their peers now need to work even harder to create high quality content.
The story might be somewhat different for businesses that have a local focus, such as Louisiana-based roofing company McElroy Metal. McElroy is a family-owned business that thrives on putting clients in touch with local distributors and contractors. As such, their Facebook page is mostly devoted to showcasing their portfolio. It’s an approach that befits a family-owned business.
Again, a common misconception about social media promotion is that it will always be there as a free or low-cost marketing solution. The truth is, we’re likely to see more paid advertisements on our social networks in the future.
We’re already seeing evidence that paid ads on Facebook can dramatically increase reach and brand visibility. The likely outcome is that social media sites will start to reward the brands that buy the most ads and sponsored content. It’s going to create something of a paid advertisement arms race, with every brand out there looking to outspend their competitors to get an edge.
Social Media: A Level Playing Field?
For a while, it seemed as though social media had the potential to allow every brand to compete on a level playing field; their success or failure rested simply on their creative use of quality content. Now, it seems he who has the largest pocketbook is going to reap the rewards.
While even modest-sized companies can see a great return on their social media efforts, the future of this type of marketing is uncertain – and possibly more costly.
About The Author:
Scott Huntington is a writer, reporter, and social media marketer. Follow Scott at @SMHuntington