Do not pay to learn about social media!

Yesterday, I heard a most silly pitch for money.

This guy from Company X was asking me if my team would be interested to sign up for a 3-day social media event in March. He didn’t explain very clearly what it was, but I figured it was a workshop where marketing professionals can sit around and share best practices on how they use social media.

He did it all wrong though.

First, when you cold call someone to get some business, you should have some rudimentary idea what the potential customer is doing. Doing some background research doesn’t take up a lot of time.

But he had no idea what my Xbox team was doing on platforms like Facebook (we’ve got a fanpage that’s about 8500 people strong) or Twitter. A simple online search for terms like “xbox”, “singapore” and “twitter” would throw up immediate results of where we’re at in cyberspace.

Then he told me the cost of the event and I nearly fell off my chair – over S$2,000 per individual.

(At this point, I was wondering if he’d even attempt to offer a group discount or early-bird discount, but that didn’t happen. He was a really lousy salesman.)

The phone call ended there because I told him we weren’t interested. And if the call had gone on any longer, I’d have given him a piece of my mind, which is:

You shouldn’t have to pay to find out about social media. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, social media is free to use (most of the time) and is free to learn.

If you want to get someone else to do social media marketing for you, I’ve got no issue with that and it is often a viable solution.

But pay over two grand to listen to people tell you how to use a common feature on the Internet? That’s like paying someone to teach me how to send email or use instant messaging.

Of course, I’m sure there will be marketers who would gladly love to pay for this workshop and figure out what this social media thingy that everyone is talking about all the time.

How does it work? What wonders can it do for me? Can I save thousands of dollars with social media?

Unfortunately, if you need to pay to find out about social media, you might not really know what you’re doing. How can you be in marketing or communications if you do not take the time to find out about the constantly changing online landscape? How much will it cost you to set up a Facebook account? And WHY aren’t you on Facebook by now?

This also reminds me about a senior print journalist who wrote a commentary about how she’ll never be on Facebook. When print media moves into the next phase, I’d like to see how she copes. 

So if you’ve signed up for such a social media session already, I’d suggest you do the following.

1. Sign up for Facebook or Twitter now, the two most common social media platforms.

2. Add friends on this platform. Unless you have no friends that is…if so, skip to step 4.

3. Interact with friends on these platforms. See how people live, breathe and generally get overdosed on navel-gazing updates from anyone and everyone. Join fanpages or lists to see how others do it.

4. Search online for “social media marketing”. Plenty of articles to read there.

5. Voila, you’ve saved yourself or your company two grand and you’d know a lot more about what’s going on. 

Whether or not you want to get an agency or hire someone to carry out your social media strategy, remember that LEARNING in this area is FREE. My advice here is FREE too, even though I pay about $150 annually to maintain this site!

Don’t get suckered into paying for it and, might I add that many best practices that people share are also available for FREE online.

Edelman Singapore recently organized such a sharing session with IT industry folks too last Friday evening, and we had a good time sharing our successes or horror stories. It cost nothing to participants but was probably more useful than any 3-day session run by an agency with a clueless sales guy.

Oh yes, pssst – blogs and bloggers are social media too, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish. 

2 Replies to “Do not pay to learn about social media!”

  1. I’m shocked by the rising number of these “seminars” and “tutoring lessons” that keep popping up. No you don’t need to pay to learn about social media. That is what researching on the net is for.

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