The Hidden Cost of Social Media

Posted by Brad, Chief Explosion Officer

This post comes from a few thoughts and comments we’ve seen out in the higher ed world, and is something that Joe and I have been chatting about a lot lately.

Kyle Johnson, the CTO at Guilford College, recently referred to ‘the hidden cost of social media’ in a comment on Rachel Reuben’s post about appropriate response times with social media.  This notion that was also echoed by Andrew Meyers of Hope College in this post, where he says:

[...] our offices simply can’t do everything.  There is a real danger here of overextending yourself to the point that the desired impact is lost amidst a sea of half-worked initiatives.  So how do you decide which piece fits where and how you should allocate time on task to each of these elements?  I think it suggests that a greater vision* be cast that will prioritize each objective and continually assess its value.

Going back to the ‘hidden cost of social media’, it’s easy for a school to dive in and start using tools on the web.  Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter.  Sure, it’s all free.  But what happens when conversations start happening through these tools and resources need to be used to support and nurture the online community?  Without a strategy/vision and without continually looking at your efforts to see what is effective and what needs fine-tuned, you will be wasting a lot of time and resources. As someone who’s “been there, done that”, there is definitely value in laying down a strategy/blueprint.

BlueFuego spent the day at IU East last Friday with Rob Zinkan and his crew, and a lot of the discussion throughout our time together was based on this thought.  How do we effectively and efficiently utilize these tools with limited resources?  Where can we do things differently to save time or streamline the communication some more?  It was exciting to see a school of 2,400 students taking a social media strategy head on and see where it all fits in not only in admissions, but through marketing and alumni as well. And now that we’ve defined some goals and where to go from here, they’ll definitely get more out of the time they all put in to it.

So what do you think about the hidden costs of social media?

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  1. Good post, Brad. But the “hidden costs” don’t have to be there. It’s important that any organization know that entering into the social media waters will require significant monitoring and interaction, and those considerations should be mapped out up front. It’s good you’re advising your clients to pay attention to these factors of social media up front. These are costs, yes, but they need not be hidden. The factors of monitoring and conversing need to be taken into account in any cost-benefit analysis.

  2. Great post Brad! It’s interesting, I did a presentation to our senior leadership team at Lethbridge College last week about plans for the our website. The bulk of the content was on creating authenticity through social media tools like blogging, video sharing, instant messaging, etc. Our leaders realized the ‘hidden costs’ of social media and the HR commitment that would need to be there.

    I just hope that they realize the benefits and are willing to support costs associated with social media.

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