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Has Social Media Created A Culture of Free Consulting?

social media strategyOne 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.

Related: The Ultimate Marketing Strategy: Education-Based Marketing

 

social media strategyFool Me Once…

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.

social media strategy

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.

Related: 5 Major Business Benefits Of A Great Blogging Strategy

 

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!

social media strategy

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.

Comments

  1. 358560600843235 says:

    I think this is a really relevant topic for consultants. One of my strategies is to offer one free consulting session, face to face. You can book it online on my website. That way I can build relationships, but also limit freeloaders who sap up my time. You recommendation to move “requests” to a blog form which is really a great idea too. If a consultant is asked to share information for free, there must be some for of benefit for all parties.

  2. 752831347 says:

    Great article Melonie! Even though we mean well, I think this has become a real problem for may of us by our own doing. The boundaries you suggest make sense both from the side of offering value as well as to valuing our own time. Thanks.

  3. 752831347 says:

    Great article Melonie! Even though we mean well, I think this has become a real problem for may of us by our own doing. The boundaries you suggest make sense both from the side of offering value as well as to valuing our own time. Thanks.

  4. 106667006044214 says:

    Kudos to you for tackling a sensitive subject. That opening meeting where you want to share enough to win a client, but not so much they feel they do it “themselves” has always been a delicate balance in my business…and I agree wholeheartedly that it has been made more difficult in an online empowered world. One of these days I hope to learn how to keep one hour to one hour and graciously decline the attempts when folks want more.

  5. 711692588 says:

    Hi There,

    If people want FREE advice, I direct them to my Blog, everything I preach, teach and speak about is there, otherwise…book an appointment, you will be invoiced. Incorporating FREE into your business is merely part of your overall marketing strategy. Just a couple cents from me : ).

  6. 218482288171903 says:

    You nailed it, Melonie! As a Consultant, this is something I’ve encountered a lot of lately but the best thing to do is say, “No!” If someone walks into a store & takes something off the shelf & doesn’t pay, that’s considered theft. Consulting is no different.

  7. 319110954831073 says:

    Melonie, this post is perfect timing. For the last several months, I’ve been struggling with this very topic. I am a Virtual Assistant from NC who loves helping small businesses succeed.

    With that said, I like to offer something of value on my blog site by providing educational tools and tips. I understand that I gain more consistent and loyal web traffic by developing a reputation for quality by posting on my blog and that it’s truly a win-win, but am I giving away too much for free by offering all the details?

    Should I only be providing a little bit of information and have a call to action? Should I at least have a join my mailing list for all my time and effort? Hmmmmm!

    Most information that I offer can be searched on Google, but who has the time, not many people. That’s why I like to help. I’m really struggling with what direction to take on this, so your post is perfect timing. Any suggestions or advice is welcomed.

    Melonie, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing! ~Stacey

  8. 319110954831073 says:

    Melonie, this post is perfect timing. For the last several months, I’ve been struggling with this very topic. I am a Virtual Assistant from NC who loves helping small businesses succeed.

    With that said, I like to offer something of value on my blog site by providing educational tools and tips. I understand that I gain more consistent and loyal web traffic by developing a reputation for quality by posting on my blog and that it’s truly a win-win, but am I giving away too much for free by offering all the details?

    Should I only be providing a little bit of information and have a call to action? Should I at least have a join my mailing list for all my time and effort? Hmmmmm!

    Most information that I offer can be searched on Google, but who has the time, not many people. That’s why I like to help. I’m really struggling with what direction to take on this, so your post is perfect timing. Any suggestions or advice is welcomed.

    Melonie, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing! ~Stacey

  9. 319110954831073 says:

    Melonie, this post is perfect timing. For the last several months, I’ve been struggling with this very topic. I am a Virtual Assistant from NC who loves helping small businesses succeed.

    With that said, I like to offer something of value on my blog site by providing educational tools and tips. I understand that I gain more consistent and loyal web traffic by developing a reputation for quality by posting on my blog and that it’s truly a win-win, but am I giving away too much for free by offering all the details?

    Should I only be providing a little bit of information and have a call to action? Should I at least have a join my mailing list for all my time and effort? Hmmmmm!

    Most information that I offer can be searched on Google, but who has the time, not many people. That’s why I like to help. I’m really struggling with what direction to take on this, so your post is perfect timing. Any suggestions or advice is welcomed.

    Melonie, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing! ~Stacey

  10. 319110954831073 says:

    Melonie, this post is perfect timing. For the last several months, I’ve been struggling with this very topic. I am a Virtual Assistant from NC who loves helping small businesses succeed.

    With that said, I like to offer something of value on my blog site by providing educational tools and tips. I understand that I gain more consistent and loyal web traffic by developing a reputation for quality by posting on my blog and that it’s truly a win-win, but am I giving away too much for free by offering all the details?

    Should I only be providing a little bit of information and have a call to action? Should I at least have a join my mailing list for all my time and effort? Hmmmmm!

    Most information that I offer can be searched on Google, but who has the time, not many people. That’s why I like to help. I’m really struggling with what direction to take on this, so your post is perfect timing. Any suggestions or advice is welcomed.

    Melonie, I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing! ~Stacey

  11. 1533090489 says:

    Excellent post. Yes, I’ve been freelancing enough to be put in this bind as well. Clients can start to feel that sense of entitlement, and you have to defend your work. You want to win a client over, but you need to be paid for your work and your time!

  12. 1419365876 says:

    Interesting issue, difficult (or impossible) to solve… After more than 20 years in the Telecom sector, I have seen that unfortunately the standard is that a lot of consultancy is given “in advance” with the hope of getting a contract afterwards. However very often you learn that the contract went to another company, veeeery annoying. My suggestion: give in advance the consultancy your gut feeling says that is needed to increase or keep a high reputation level. By the way, can you please explain how should I configure my linkedin account to…. (just joking). Greetings from Spain!

  13. 1419365876 says:

    Interesting issue, difficult (or impossible) to solve… After more than 20 years in the Telecom sector, I have seen that unfortunately the standard is that a lot of consultancy is given “in advance” with the hope of getting a contract afterwards. However very often you learn that the contract went to another company, veeeery annoying. My suggestion: give in advance the consultancy your gut feeling says that is needed to increase or keep a high reputation level. By the way, can you please explain how should I configure my linkedin account to…. (just joking). Greetings from Spain!

  14. 751252471 says:

    The one tip I give every consultant is this. Double or triple your prices today. Not only is giving away free consulting bad, but underpricing your services is bad too.

    Thanks for being a great guest on Marketing Made Simple TV too, Melonie. Check it out here. http://bit.ly/MelonieD

  15. 100002738544270 says:

    Great post, and I think very timely. I responded on Google+, but I wanted to say Kudos!

  16. 100002738544270 says:

    Great post, and I think very timely. I responded on Google+, but I wanted to say Kudos!

  17. 100002738544270 says:

    Great post, and I think very timely. I responded on Google+, but I wanted to say Kudos!

  18. 626999556 says:

    Happily I’ve been too busy of late for free consults. There are so many nuances to Social Media a simple question could lead to an all day discussion if you aren’t careful.

  19. 626999556 says:

    Happily I’ve been too busy of late for free consults. There are so many nuances to Social Media a simple question could lead to an all day discussion if you aren’t careful.