Getting Something For Nothing: Why it Works So Well for Social Media

This week, a client of ours blogging on behalf of her hospital department got a great comment that I just have to share. It was in response to a post she wrote about why she is writing a blog.

“This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I enjoy seeing websites that understand the value of providing a prime resource for free. I truly loved reading your post. Thanks!”

I was ecstatic to see this comment because it captures her blog’s purpose:  to educate her audience and to provide them important information they might not get other places. And when you give something away for free, it demonstrates generosity, creates value and builds trust.

Before I go any further, I should mention that at Hive Strategies we offer e-books and white papers for those who register. We do so because we want to know a little more about the people who are reading our content. So while I don’t believe it’s a bad thing to require an e-mail to receive information, I do think there are certain things that should be offered for free. A blog is a perfect example of this. Could you imagine if each blog we read required that we register first? I can pretty much guarantee that it wouldn’t work.

I came across a great video about this subject on David Meerman Scott’s website today. The video included Meerman Scott, Seth Godin and author Tom Peters as they talked about the idea of giving things away for free. And by free they don’t mean without a monetary transaction. When they say “free” they mean giving something away, and making it free of a transaction, whether it’s money or even an e-mail. They agree that even when no money is exchanged, it is a transaction and not truly free.

Seth summed it up by saying (I may be changing the words slightly, but I think I have the gist of it) that “when I give you an idea, and you take it and spread it, it starts out uneven because of its nature. And since it’s uneven, it can be a gift, When it’s a gift, it’s art and when it’s art, it can make a change and making change is our opportunity going forward. Making change is when we’ll see the things that matter occur, and that’s when real value will happen.”

And that’s exactly what happened on our client’s blog. The value this reader saw was important enough for her to say something. And that’s what should drive your social media campaign.

Share things not because you want to get something in return. Share because you have ideas to share and want to create value by spreading those ideas.

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