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Social media is free, your time is not: staying balanced

February 1, 2013

social media

Social media is free, your time is not

Social media is around every corner, and as we all know, it’s no longer just for personal use. Many businesses have their own Facebook fan pages, Twitter handles, Instagram accounts and other profiles, and use them as a marketing tool to engage with their audiences. Adopting more innovative marketing techniques is a smart idea, and it does make sense to market where your customers naturally spend their time. But many companies make the mistake of thinking that they’ve hit the jackpot with social media marketing because it’s free, and assume they don’t really need anything else. That train of thought couldn’t be further from the truth.

Maintaining a social media platform may not cost money, but it does take a lot of time. In order to use it effectively, you have to invest time coming up with meaningful posts that fans and followers will find relevant. You’re mistaken if you think you can just log on and treat your page like a sales ad – that’s the last thing people want to see when they’re socializing online, and is a huge turn-off.

And once you’ve taken the time to brainstorm relevant content, you have to spend more time on top of that responding to user comments. Social media is a form of two-way communication, therefore it takes a considerable investment of time to post, manage, and engage with these audiences. Even though you aren’t paying for something like a website banner ad, this time you’re putting in does cost money.

Balancing social media with other marketing collateral

Although there are numerous benefits to utilizing social media marketing, businesses have to learn the right balance between this and more traditional means of marketing. If you’re spending every waking minute on Facebook creating content, and forgoing other avenues, that’s detrimental to your business. Having so strict of a focus restricts the reach of your messaging, because not all of your customers may have social media profiles, and even out of those that do, not all of them are willing to follow corporate pages and handles. It’s better instead to have a varied marketing mix to better reach different segments of your target audience.

So while this form of marketing is less costly, you still need to invest in marketing collateral, events, and other forms online messaging. Your business cost money to get started, and it’s going to cost money to remain viable. Don’t make the mistake of putting all of your eggs in one basket with social media because you naively think it’s free – in general, if more than 50 percent of your time is spent on social media, but less than 50 percent of your business is coming from social media, your time and money are imbalanced. Everything has a cost, and you need to be aware of all of the resources it takes to effectively market your company, and be willing to continuously make that investment.

Destiny Bennett is a journalist who has earned double communications' degrees in Journalism and Public Relations, as well as a certification in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. She has written stories for AustinWoman Magazine as well as various University of Texas publications and enjoys the art of telling a story. Her interests include finance, technology, social media...and watching HGTV religiously.


  1. This is a really great article and something that we really believe in at Oktopost. Dentiny gives some great points on where to invest in marketing – and as usual, content is king!

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