The Resident Connection, Written Posts

Budgeting for a Social Strategy

4 Comments 01 December 2011

I was chatting with Mike Whaling yesterday, and we both agreed there are definitely some quick wins out there to help optimize your brand, stores, properties, etc. online.  It can be time consuming, but claiming your businesses pages on Google, Bing, Yelp!, etc. can be quick ways to get some SEO juice for your websites and help promote your business on those additional channels.  Where I struggle from there is with a content strategy ongoing.

Here’s the honest truth, you can’t half-ass it anymore.  Search as we know it today is changing, and if you aren’t trying to be part of or help create conversation then I will predict that drive-by may become your best lead source.  OK, that could be extreme, but the algorithm is changing from a keywords model and more value is being put on conversation and connections with real people to a brand.  Criticize Google+ all you want, but even if that doesn’t do exactly what they hoped it most definitely highlights how Google is giving more credit to social connections.

If this really is the case then I believe it’s time to revisit your marketing spend.  Mike and I created an Apartment Marketing Checklist a couple months ago for people to really think about.  It highlights much more than Craigslist and ILSs when it comes to your marketing, and I hope it begins to help you think about the next steps in growing your online presence.  There are plenty of opportunities and strategies to consider, but what I will tell you is that there is an investment necessary to get it all done.  While we may believe because a website is “free to join” that the cost to market there is free, I will tell you that’s not the case.  As I said above, you can’t half-ass it anymore.  This isn’t a one and done type of play, and your strategy has to be solid.

I can tell you from my personal experiences over the past few years at J.C. Hart that social media and online marketing all have costs associated with them if you want to do them right.  I do believe that the costs compared to traditional media (TV, print, billboards, etc.) is less, but you have to invest some dollars to make your efforts worth while.  If you think you can just have an intern or your son or daughter that just graduated college handle it all, 9 times out of 10 I think you’ll be disappointed.  Those young bucks can definitely be helpful assets, but they can’t handle it all and they need direction and guidance.

It’s almost a new year.  Many of us make resolutions.  If you’re going to make any marketing resolutions for 2012 I most definitely suggest you take a hard look at what you budget for social.  That includes social strategy, social content, and the man power to do that internally and externally.  You may not have to look far to find those dollars, but you may need to decide to give up on some advertising sources you’ve always thought to be tried and true and reallocate.  We’ve made those dollar shifts at J.C. Hart and I can tell you our traffic hasn’t been affected in the least.  It’s actually gone up and we’re getting more referrals.

If you think search isn’t changing then I’ll just conclude by asking you a question.  Did you ever foresee someone just asking their in-phone digital assistant a question and trusting that the answer coming back is the best answer for them?  That’s where we’re headed.  It’s not necessarily about being on page 1 to be relevant, it’s more about just being relevant.

  • It is tough to keep up with the pace things are going but it is a must.  We are looking at some various strategies that will actually increase our digital presence.  Content sharing and developing I believe will continue to evolve.  I am noticing  a lot of niche tools that are taking hold and it will be interesting to see their path.  Social connections and “true” reach will be critical to continue to develop.  I always appreciate your frank assessment of where things are heading.

  • I agree with Jonathan:  keeping up with the pace of new media can be overwhelming.  Our firm has to continually assess what is working and what isn’t.  If a social marketing avenue isn’t panning out, then there are 10 more to experiment with and potentially take its place.  We, as marketers, have to keep moving and pressing the envelop – or run the risk of having our brands fall “behind”.  And “behind” can be quantified: all you have to is look at your site/blog/brand’s analytics :).  Have a great day, gentlemen. -TH

    • We have no choice.  

      Thanks for the comment Trevor!

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