July 12, 2010 Michael Bickerton
In 1984 Steward Brand said “Information wants to be free!“, and then follow up by saying, “On the one hand, information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life.” Brand went on to say, “On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out there is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”
Now that’s a mouthful given that it was said in 1984; it’s unbelievable. Brand certainly had this right. Seems that the “free business model” is just impacting our economy in the last decade, so Brand was 20 years ahead of his time.
Since everyone is now capable of writing, blogging, using Facebook, Twitter and a myriad of social networking sites, we are all publishers of sorts, all adding to our digital footprint, publishing free information. As much as the internet and social networking sites have allowed us “free” distribution, the irony is that the time and effort are NOT free. There is a cost, your time or the time of your team or digital agency costs are real and you should be accounting and evaluating those costs.
Every day we are faced with the reality that “free” isn’t really free at all. The costs of distribution are free or relatively so, yet the cost of production isn’t. My recommendation is that you and your team quantify your involvement, and evaluate your in social media agenda in the same way you do with the balance of your marketing budget. Just because you don’t get an invoice, doesn’t mean it’s free.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, July 2010