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OK! Time’s up!
While you’re contemplating how to “test the waters” in social media marketing, your competitors are already there, or planning to be, and your customers have been there for quite a while.

“Everybody’s talking about how great social media is for marketing, but nobody’s talking about what it costs,” cry the CMOs. Verily they said: “Tell us the bottom line.”

OK, let’s tear down the wall – let’s talk about money.

The budget for an effective social media marketing campaign begins at $50K for a two to three-month period. I’m sure companies have spent less, and I know they’ve spent more.

I have created effective campaigns with as little as $50K, and even better ones with budgets of $500K for three months. :>)

As a rule, a $50K budget can cover the creation of a simple multi-media micro-site which becomes the center of an online community; perhaps some widgets to help distribute the content, and the formation of a Facebook and/or Flickr, Jaiku, Twitter or other networking group to enhance the community aspect of the campaign. Complex functions add to programming and design costs.

A high-yield, highly-targeted blog advertising campaign to kick off and support the program will cost an additional $25 – 100K a month. Google AdWords, email support, co-registration and other tools that drive traffic also would be additional costs.

Look at it this way: let’s say your average customer makes a purchase from you three or four times a year. Now you create a micro-site that contains truly engaging content, and not just heavy-handed sales messages. You make the content available through a variety of social media tools.

You invite and respond to comments – positive and negative. You give people a variety of ways to create content, and contribute photos, videos, tips and news to your site. You let them rate the content on the site and respond to suggestions.

Customers now have a reason to engage with your content several times a week, or even daily. Pretty soon, they start to tell their friends about your interesting and useful content. And soon you can watch this involvement reflected in increased sales referred through your social media marketing.
You can measure results through a variety of metrics, including referral drill downs in your site stats; mentions on blogs and in media; comments on the content; real-time blog advertising results, and clickthroughs to your company website.

So tell me, what’s so scary about that?
Copyright B.L. Ochman, all rights reserved