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Money growing on treeHow much does it cost to do your own social media marketing?  Twitter is free! Facebook is free! YouTube is free! Blogging is free!  Hell, even conferences to learn about social media are free!  It’s all FREE!

Nothing is free. There, now it’s out in the open.  In fact, social media is one of the largest expenses your business will ever have – regardless of how small (or large) your company is.

You may never pay a cent for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog design, or blog hosting.  You don’t need to.  But the time you need to invest in the care and feeding of your social media technology channels and relationships you forge can potentially eat up more time than physically exists in a day.  Add to that the learning curve and constant churn of information and gadgetry, and you have yourself a full time job in social media.  But how does that leave you time to tend your own business?  You know, the one that actually earns you money?  Answer is, it doesn’t leave you any time to focus on what you need to do to run a business.  End result, why bother?  If social media takes up all your time, any business you generate will have to be passed by because you need to spend all your time on social media to generate business.

All of the sudden, free doesn’t look so free…

Time is money.  Money and time do not grow on trees.  While it’s true you can always print more money, time is a constant in our corner of the universe.  You get what you get.  Exchanging one for the other is the best way to beat the system.  One thing you still can grow and cultivate is expertise, but like oak trees, it takes a long time to grow proper and strong.

The great news is you don’t have to have an “all-or-nothing” attitude about integrating social media into your work day.  The key?  Selective delegation.  But of course that also comes at a cost.  Not sure you could let the control of your brand to someone else?  Could you give up some of the tasks involved with writing just one blog post?  It’s easier than you think.

Let’s break down a blog post.  It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to two days (or more) – depending on how quickly you can write or generate quality ideas – to go from idea to published post.

  • Research post ideas
  • Select topic
  • Research and education on topic
  • Draft outline
  • Decide on SEO
  • Flesh out article
  • Identify tags and categories
  • Come up with an attention-grabbing title
  • Verify facts
  • Include disclosure if needed
  • Find links
  • Edit and insert graphics or video
  • Check spelling and grammar
  • Click “publish”
  • Verify RSS feeds
  • Cross link blog post on social media sites
  • Respond to comments on blog
  • Respond to comments on social media sites regarding blog
  • Solicit opinions and feedback on content
  • Collect and analyze statistics
  • Note lessons learned for next blog post
  • Keep spinning plates…

ONE. BLOG. POST.  Yes, it takes a lot of time.  Time out of your day that you could be working on your core business.  How much money would you lose if you took two days off – didn’t collect a paycheck, didn’t make one sale, didn’t answer one email or phone call – to write a post?

Would social media – in this case a simple blog post – be easier to tackle if the to-do list looked something like this?

  • Generate high level topic ideas — Detailed research of each idea
  • Select topic from multiple abstracts and choose topic to move forward with (or possibly continue to write post yourself) — Receive approved topic, research and education on topic, draft outline, decide on SEO, flesh out article, identify tags and categories, come up with an attention-grabbing title, verify facts, include disclosure if needed, find links, edit and insert graphics or video, check spelling and grammar, submit post for for draft review
  • Wait for blog post draft, note changes and revisions — Execute revisions
  • Click “publish” — Verify RSS feeds, cross link blog post on social media sites, determine if any comments on blog or social media need to be responded to, collect and analyze statistics, and summarize any actionable items and pass back to business
  • Get back to your business  —  Collect your retainer and help plan the next blog post

By now you’ve realized the first section of each task is what the you should still be taking charge of.  The second part of each task are items that can be attended to without your direct involvement. Now think about EVERYTHING that social media entails – blogging, web video, podcasts, and social networking sites.  Not an issue, that’s what interns are for!  Can someone straight out of school help you with a realistic and detailed strategy?  With setting and reaching goals?  Professional business experience and expertise are sadly undervalued when it comes to social media.  The industry is considered new, and it is assumed new means easy.  Social media is not complicated, but it is no means easy.  Still trust someone without the business chops to help shape your brand?

All of the sudden, free doesn’t look so free…

How much time and research do you think it takes to produce technology resource guides, conduct social media market research, competitive analysis, editorial topics, suggested departmental involvement, and define measurable goals?

If you have the time and discipline to do it yourself, you and your business will be better for it.  Even better, letting employees become empowered to become involved in social media.  Firms like Purple Stripe Productions handle complex and shifting strategy plans in this area of expertise – social media technology, communication, and training – so that you can concentrate on your area of expertise.  Growing your business.  Serving your customers.  Rewarding your employees.  Cultivating prospects.  Improving processes.  Enjoying your family.

How is your time best spent?

PS – This blog post took 3.5 hours from “idea to publish.”