Businesses in Kenya are increasingly realizing the value of social media; and that is a good thing. But with value comes cost and that is what I would like to delve into today.
The word out there is that social media is cheap and many a social media practitioner in Kenya will attempt to prove this to you through case studies, research, and sometimes actual implementation. Internationally as well, it is common knowledge that social media represents the cheapest marketing option for businesses. But beyond marketing, the value of social media is seen and felt in its facilitation of many other business functions like sales, customer care, research and development etc. So I ask again, why is social media considered cheaper yet it is the most versatile platform for businesses to advance themselves?
I guess all the blogs written about how cheap social media is have led to this prevalent misconception that social media should cost next to nothing. Businesses are trying to employ social media at no cost and while the dive into social media is welcome, the just as many casualties of social media disasters point to this wrong approach tiered on a flawed perception. Cheap or cheaper does not mean nothing or next to nothing; it means there will be a cost attached albeit cheaper either in terms of same costs you employ in marketing but better ROI or a fraction of what you use in marketing or R&D for similar ROI.
The blogs that should be going out should not be stating how cheap social media is but rather how relatively cheaper it is. Stating social media is cheap cheapens our work as Social Media solutions providers because it creates the perception that anybody with knowledge of these shiny social media tools can do what we do. And that is the reason most businesses try to pull it off using interns. Our work is not being seen as an executive level grasp of business objectives infused with an understanding of emerging technologies with the end result being a strategic deployment of social media across the organization in a way that fundamentally changes how the business runs and ultimately improves the bottom-line.
The truth is that social media is relatively cheaper. You will get but ROI given the same resources. And it is important to realize that social media does not replace most business functions but rather facilitates most of these functions in a way that enables them to scale. Social Media is time intensive and human resources intensive as well; both of which have a cost connotation. There are services that cost cold hard cash and those have to be factored in too. So the next time someone says social media is cheap, what they mean is it is relatively cheaper.
What say you?