Why Social Media shouldn’t be regarded as a cheap alternative to Marketing

No matter how much changes, many brands continue perceiving social media as a “cheap” marketing alternative. And by cheap, quite a few actually mean “for free”. Well, here’s the thing; if it’s done cheaply or even worse for free, then it’s most likely not a good thing for the brand. And here are five compelling reasons why:

1. It takes a lot of planning and preparations

One can’t just setup that Facebook page or fire up a Twitter account, and expect followers and business to start pouring in. This is when many brands get frustrated; they setup great looking pages and then are disappointed from having accumulated only a few hundred followers (of which most are friends and family). A brand needs to identify its target audiences, understand what they need, what triggers their interest and gets them engaged, when and how they engage online, and design key messages that appeal to them. Once that has been accomplished, the brand needs to design a marketing schedule with tons of valuable content, activation campaigns that direct traffic to where it counts, and so forth. You can see where we’re getting at; this is a fully-fledged marketing plan, and it takes a lot of time and effort to build, all of which just won’t come for free if they are to work and produce results.

2. It shouldn’t (and can’t) be automated

There’s an abundance of tools that claim they’re able to automate your social media marketing activities. Don’t fall for the trap. It’s one thing to use tools to help you in posting articles and content that you’ve carefully selected, and it’s an entirely different matter to use tools for anything else (such as auto-curating content). The whole concept of social media marketing is based on real-time interaction and engagement with the audience. Otherwise what’s the point and why not just stick to good old and plain print ads? Followers will detect messages that are machine-generated before long and will promptly unfollow the violating brand. Having said that, it goes without saying that marketing socially “manually” and “personally” takes a lot of time, effort, energy, all of which of course come at a price.

3. Paid ads are inevitable

Facebook et al need to make money just as much as the rest of us do. So what do those nice channels do once they’ve reached a critical mass in users? That’s right, they monetize their service. In Facebook’s case, those guys reduce the reach of posts every now and then. By now, it has dropped to ridiculous levels, and if you want a reasonable number of people to actually see your stuff, you’ve got to “boost” your posts. Of course, the more followers you have, the pricier these boosts get. (This is another good reason why your marketing should be focused on those your business cares about.) So even if your team conceives the most creative activation campaigns or posts content that’s totally awesome, if you can’t reach a decent number of users it’s all pretty much pointless. The solution? Invest in paid ads. First invest in increasing your likes and followers, and once you’ve reached your targeted number or are getting closer, start diverting your advertising JDs gradually toward increasing your content’s reach. And of course, this all takes more and more money to work.

4. Content is king (and expensive)

Whatever you do on your social media channels, nothing beats quality content that’s relevant to your audience’s interests. You can curate your entire content of course, but what message is that exactly saying about your brand? There’s no way around it; you’ve got to invest a lot of time and energy (hence money) into creating your own content. This also includes imagery and other multimedia files you’re using along with your posts. And since you can’t just copy and paste pictures at will from the web (it’s against the law), you will either have to purchase your own multimedia or create it. The latter is more expensive, so you’ll need an account with one or more of those services where you can buy images in multiple sizes and so forth. Trust us, once you do this long and frequently enough, you’ll be amazed by how much money this can cost. In the case of our website for example, most of the large-sized pictures we had to buy ran for $10 or more a pop. And those smaller guys we use for our posts and articles run about $1-2 each. It’s not much, but do this multiple times day in day out, and your bill starts to add up.

5. You definitely need expertise

All of the above – although in the public domain and accessible to anyone – won’t work if the person handling the job doesn’t know exactly what he/she are doing. Social media marketing is not something you can pickup over night by reading a few articles, or ask an intern who’s spending most of his/her time on Facebook to handle your social media marketing along the way. Even the best content remains unread if not posted in the right format, at the right time, and on suitable channels. Understanding how this works takes of course a lot of experience and expertise. Even the simple task of writing a heading is an art; use the wrong words and nobody reads the rest. The same goes for pictures; even if the image costs you $30, if it’s not relevant or comes across as generic it’ll turn away potential engagements.


Always remember, when you’re marketing digitally you’re not competing only against your peers. You’re competing against everybody else for precious attention. And as people are becoming less and less willing to give you all that much of their time, you need to master and perfect your social media marketing skills and practices as much as humanly possible. Anything less, and that sought-after attention will go to another brand or worse, a competitor.

About the Author

Pinnacle Business & Marketing Consulting is a results-driven boutique consulting firm that specializes in providing clients with practical and pragmatic solutions to their business and marketing challenges. Website | Facebook | Twitter

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