Making the case for not having a social media strategy…yet.

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A week or so ago I wrote a blog post outlining Google’s new +1 stuff. There’s some great information in there telling you how social media results are being utilized by search engines. It even suggests that as a business you had better have a long term social media strategy. I wanted to back track today. Not because I’m some wishy washy nit wit but because I think there are reasons for some property management companies (or any business) to take pause.

Thanks to everywhereisimagined for the image

Look I’m a social media junkie. Ask anyone that I constantly stalk chat with. I love engaging with people and for my personal brand BSitko, using social media drives awareness. Creating all of this “awareness” costs me a lot of time. Eric Urbane brought up some great points in his post from last week. The main thrust of it was this:

perhaps a different question is How Much Effort Do We Put Into Facebook Marketing For A Given Result? We manage (25) plus Facebook Fan Pages for our clients. Clearly, by far and away, the pages where we put in the most effort have the highest result.

He talks about his 3 case studies and then says

So, The question is, of these three case studies which have varying degrees of effort, and therefore cost, what is the value of their result, of which none really track to sales or rentals? So in two cases we are having lots of conversation, which I would agree has some value, but at what cost?

The takeaway should be that all types of conversations and engagement are all the things we strive for. But how much does achieving that actually cost us? For those small companies who struggle under the weight of their own processes, how can you justify this type of long term strategy? Another article I read takes this conversation a step further. According to Christopher Penn and his Marketing ROI blog post he outlines the following:

Here’s an example of determining time spent as money. Let’s say you’re in marketing and you earn $50,000 per year. The effective number of working hours you have per year is 52 weeks x 40 hours per week, or 2,080 hours. Your effective hourly pay, then, is $24.04 per hour. For every hour you spend on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, etc., you are effectively investing $24.04 of time as money in that marketing channel. Suddenly, channels like social media get very expensive.

Expensive is right. He does say, if you get what the impact of social media will have on your business and you’re willing to take a financial loss in order to grow the long term opportunity, then great. Do it. How many of you out there are willing to do that?

Social media takes time. There is no way around it. Creating engagements and good content isn’t something you can accomplish in a few weeks. Once you start it, there is no finish line. Creating a social media strategy and only implementing it part of the way doesn’t help you either. “We’ll just put up some Facebook pages because everyone else is.” Sure I can buy your reasoning but without a branding strategy and time management methods you will fail. Last thing you want to put out there is a product that sucks.

So what should you do? You can read tons of blog posts about the importance of a social media strategy; myself included. It should be your long term strategy. As an industry we don’t have great ways to measure its impact yet. Companies do need to understand that social media isn’t free.

Here are some tips for those property management companies still struggling with the “Should we or shouldn’t we debate”:

Find out what it will take your company to do it.
Do you have the personnel in place to pull it off? What is your branding strategy? Do you have the right company culture in place? Do you have buy in from the C-Levels?

Talk to some professionals.
There are lots of them out there willing to cash your checks.. err help you. Bring some of them in a find out what they suggest to do. Should you outsource your efforts? That will certainly save time but then costs money. Spending money with a smaller time investment might make sense to a lot of companies. You be the judge.

Start slowly.
No way for you to gauge how much time it will take if you don’t get out there and do it. If you manage 20 properties don’t roll out all 20 with Facebook Pages yet. Start with 1 or 2.

Thanks to FseCart for the image

And yet after all this soul searching you still might find that it doesn’t make sense right now. Why? The time investment might be too great. You might not have the personnel in place. Social media is a long term strategy but it can be an expensive one. Figure out where you want to go, and what it will take to get there. Get a better understanding of what an effective strategy entails and then do it… or not. At the end of the day you might find that the costs are just too high.

I’d love to hear what all of you have to say in the comments below..they are all yours.

Thanks to Flickr & more Flickr for the photo.

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