One of the most common mistakes I see so many people make (myself included) is convincing themselves that giving away free consulting is part of every social media strategy. Social media has created a culture of sharing free content but you need to draw the line on where free content hits free consulting work. My philosophy is that if it takes more than three minutes or it can’t be said in 140 characters, it’s free consulting and you shouldn’t be doing it.
The content revolution of the internet has been one of the most positive things to ever happen to spreading knowledge throughout the world but it has also created a sense of entitlement among some. It’s not a bad thing unless you let it get out of hand. Give enough people an inch and you’ll see how fast they will try to take a mile.
That old saying rings true here: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!
If you keep fueling the problem, it won’t go away. It’s actually likely to get much worse!
You can’t be responsible to hold everybody’s hand online and you shouldn’t do it. Your business depends on getting paid clients and a successful social media strategy cannot survive on freebies alone.
Remember Your Market
A lot of social media advice will leave you petrified at the idea of ruffling the feathers of any connections by ignoring their messages and not accommodating every request. THIS IS NOT YOUR JOB!
Education-based marketing should be educational and valuable but it’s still marketing, which means you need to be making money – not tweeting free advice all day long.
If someone is asking you simple questions that are obviously available by an even simpler Google search, you don’t need to feel guilty about disregarding the message. It is definitely okay to answer these questions once in a while but if you become inundated then feel free to be more selective, especially if you notice multiple requests coming from the same person – that’s really what you need to watch out for most.
I strive to give a lot of free information on my blog and in my social media posts, but often I have people that will just ask me question after question, this can be very time consuming. I’ve created very affordable online courses that provide the depth of knowledge they are seeking. So my opinion is if they are not willing to make an investment in their business, it is not my responsibility to give ongoing free consulting. What they are saying to me is they value my expertise, but they certainly don’t value my time.
Make Freebies Count
If someone asks you a great question that you feel hasn’t been addressed on your blog, then you should take the opportunity to do so in your next article. I’m thrilled to get asked really great questions on Twitter or through blog comments since it helps me address real problems from real people, not to mention saves me from having to think about another topic for my next article!
When it comes to giving freebies, your blog is the place to do it. You gain more consistent and loyal web traffic by developing a reputation for quality so it’s truly win-win this way. If you are responding to every Twitter mention with a question pertaining to your industry, you aren’t employing an effective social media strategy.
Although you should always be focused on the user experience and delivering top notch, quality content, you need to always know exactly what’s in it for you…that’s the ROI you so desperately want to see from your efforts.
How much is too much free consulting for you and your overall social media strategy? Leave you answer in the comments below.