Social media is marketing. Invest in it. Reply

I received a Thumbtack “lead” yesterday that made me shake my head and chuckle. Let me share it with you:

“Need a social media marketing specialist.
Goals: Gain visibility and brand recognition
Budget: $15/hour.”

As I check back more than 24 hours later, not one person has submitted a quote. And I’m sure that Jackie M. in San Jose is mystified as to why that is.

Well, let me bring us all back to reality. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And if you actually expect to pay internship wages for the arduous task of building brand recognition, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

The same people who are well aware that a marketing or PR firm will cost them about $250 per hour are often those who think that $100 per month should cover social media. Jackie M., I’ll let you in on a secret: Those who actually deliver results on social media have usually sharpened their marketing skills at those $250-per-hour firms.

Because social media and blog platforms are usually free, there tends to be a naiveté that you can get your daughter’s college roommate to set up and run your social media. Another myth is that social media is something you should to be on, without the acknowledgement that running a proper online campaign is a marketing activity.

That’s right, a marketing activity. So don’t skimp on it.

Effective online marketing — which often encompasses social media, content, SEO, mobile and more — is highly complex and time consuming. Practitioners require well-developed marketing chops, strategic planning skills, deep business marketing experience, an understanding of rapidly changing technologies, the ability to interpret data and market research, excellent communication skills, creativity, and interpersonal skills. Most are highly educated, very tech savvy, and read constantly to keep up on trends that can sometimes change from week to week.

More than that, marketing has completely evolved over the past 10 or 15 years to being an inbound activity rather than a mass-market activity, something that many of those high-priced agencies haven’t quite grasped yet. Online marketers have been on the leading edge of this evolution, often pioneering new marketing methods that improve ROI.

These online practitioners use social media as another tool in their toolbox to impact a business’s bottom line. They understand that social media is a means to a marketing end. They get that “social media” is not a career, at least not one that will be around, per se, in a few years as it becomes more and more understood as a tactic best used by professional business marketers.  And they understand the worth that their knowledge, skills and experience bring to what they do for companies.

They believe that if social media is treated as something other than marketing, to be undertaken by someone you plan to pay less than you would a housekeeper or a telemarketer… well, they just won’t believe you are ready to undertake it until you understand it better.

So Jackie M.: I’m sorry nobody leaped at your offer. But don’t hold your breath.

Lynn Esquer/SocialproseLynn Christiansen Esquer is a principal at SocialProse media. Email her at lesquer@socialprosemedia.com

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