Social Media effective during Recessions

Several analysts at Forrester (Josh Bernoff as lead, with Charlene Li, Christine Spivey Overby, Jeremiah K. Owyang, Shar VanBoskirk) put our heads together to discuss how the rumblings of a potential recession, and if so, how social media will thrive.

We concluded that Social Media, which tends to have lower costs than other forms of marketing (commodity tools) can be very cost effective for those wanting to get customers to spread and share messages. On the other hand, marketers need to be careful, because doing it wrong will result in more work, and in some situations, brand backlash.

When I was the Community Manager at Hitachi Data Systems the cost of the forums was a few hundred dollars a month for cheap blogging/forum/wiki/flickr software. The biggest cap was the blow out social media event, Lunch 2.0 where we hosted 10 data hungry web companies, over 250 people showed up, all for an event cost of $5k, plus a lot of labor.

Of course, the largest cost was my time to manage these tools, and align the objectives with the company, and a great deal of evangelism (a combination of education and cheerleading). The end results? The brand spread, hundreds, if not thousands of leads were gathered, and I know of at least one web 2.0 company became a customer for ongoing annual revenue 3-4 times my former salary, still to this day.

Josh has given more insight to if and what to do if there’s a recession coming, and we’ve even made the report available for free (which is usually for clients) for download, please note you’ll have to register if you’re new to the site.