If I had a dollar for every business owner or marketing professional who, in the last year, has asked me what it costs to get involved in social media, Iâ€™d be rich. Okay, maybe not rich, but I could honestly take those dollars and make a car payment.[flickr style=”float: right”]photo:2549050343[/flickr]When I tell them the cost to get involved is literally nothing other than some time, they donâ€™t believe me. Sure, I can build you a blog, develop a social network for your customers, create widgets and gadgets and fidgets and all sorts of other words that will impress your CEO, drive buzz, create viral content and bill you plenty of dollars to do so. But to participate, as an individual or a business, is absolutely free.
To read and comment on blogs, participate in relevant message boards and forums, even as an official representative of your company or brand only takes your time and attention. (Start off with some attention to ensuring you do it appropriately, though.)
And hereâ€™s a kicker â€“ You donâ€™t even need a computer.[flickr style=”float: right”]photo:2549050389[/flickr]One of the many bulletin boards lining the hall of my local YMCA is used as a feedback board. Members can fill out a comment card, offering compliments, complaints, asking questions and making suggestions. The staff then types up responses and posts both for all the members to see.
This is listening. This is being genuine and transparent with your customers. This is fostering a community of consumers engaged with a brand.
This is social media.
Are you a B2B organization? Donâ€™t have customers on site? Put the YMCA feedback board up in your employee lounge and use social media to enhance internal communications.
It costs literally nothing. And that you can believe.