There are lots of social media companies out there now, and we expect that our prospective clients will be comparing us with other shops. Increasingly, interactive companies show their features and pricing on their websites, and we’re beginning to do the same.
We just hope, when visitors look at prices, that they’re comparing apples to apples. Social media management is not a clearly defined set of services at this point.
Consider this blogging service:
For me, the poor quality of the punctuation is enough to make it clear that this is not the best company to hire for blogging. Let’s say that you don’t care about that, though. You don’t care about parallel structure. Let’s say you don’t even care that “WordPress” is rendered as “word press” or that “your website” is included in “all your other social networking sites.” There’s still a reason to be concerned.
This blogging service offers to “find and spin one article a week” for your blog. “Spinning” an article refers to the practice of stealing an article (here described as “finding”) someone else has written and changing some of the words to try to escape duplicate content penalties. Thus, “We just hope, when visitors look at prices, that they’re comparing apples to apples” might be rewritten as, “We merely aspire, when guests peruse at costs, that they’re comparing fruit to pineapples.” Spinning explains much of the weird stuff you see online, and it was heavily penalized in Google’s Panda updates.
This can be done by machines or by humans, often by people who don’t have much facility with English, since the object is to pay as little to the humans as you would for the software required to have a machine do it.
At Haden Interactive, we do it differently. Our blogging service gives you multiple, completely original, magazine-quality blog posts each week. Each post is written by a professional writer who has taken the time to learn about your company and your goals. We work on your preferred platform, let you have as much or as little input as you like, and are responsive to special requests. We honestly care about you and your company, pay attention to what you want done, and watch your analytics to make sure you’re getting results. The page where we grabbed this screenshot doesn’t mention the price of their service, but frankly it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t make sense to compare the price of our service with the one described above.
At the other end of the spectrum, check out the quantity of posts for this social media management program:
We don’t know what they mean by “All Social channels covered,” since there are hundreds, but even if they only mean Facebook and Twitter (the ones named), they are offering a very high maximum number of posts: more than 46 Twitter posts a day if they post five days a week. Granted, many of your followers would drop off if you posted 46 times a day, but that’s frankly a whole lot more than we provide. The price is also a whole lot higher than ours. If you want 46 posts a day, you have to be prepared to pay more.
Sometimes it isn’t more or less, but simply different stuff. Here’s another example:
This service charges less than the high-frequency package above it, but the listed services are quite different. Hosting, IT consulting, and programming support aren’t typical social media services. We break linkbuilding out from social media management, and we don’t offer blogging by the hour, but by the post. It would be as hard to compare this service with ours as to compare it with the screenshot shown above it.
So how can you do your social media comparison shopping?
- Decide on the services you need before you start looking. If you just want regular posting, don’t pay for IT support.
- Don’t pay for gray hat or black hat techniques. If you can’t tell, ask. For example, we saw quite a few packages that included things like “200 new Twitter followers a month.” Ask how they guarantee that 200 people will follow you each month. If they’re paying for followers, realize that those are not real followers and adjust the value accordingly.
- Notice the quality of the site. If the owners of the site can’t proofread their ad copy, how many errors will they make while speed-tweeting for you?
We found prices for social media management ranging from $192 per month to $4500, not to mention the many sites that don’t list prices or say things like “$2500 and up.” Naturally, these packages aren’t the same. That makes shopping for social media more like shopping for something with wheels than it is like shopping for a car. You might want a skateboard or you might want a big rig — just be sure you’re not comparing limos to roller skates.