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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Small business doesn't get social media

Small business does not find value in social media. Does this mean there's no value, or simply that many small business owners (or large businesses for that matter) just don't understand how to use it?

According to a recent poll by Citibank / GfK Roper survey of 500 small business executives across the United States, 76% have not found social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be helpful in generating business leads or for expanding their business during the last year, while 86% say they have not used social networking sites to get business advice or information. Maria Veltre, Executive Vice President of Citi's Small Business Segment, concludes "... small business owners are still feeling their way into social media... many... may not have the manpower or the time required take advantage of them." This is the bottom line, it is about the time and manpower rather than a reflection of the media.

If a business bought television advertisements at 3 am, and did not see a return, does that mean TV advertising is worthless?

What if an advertisement was run in print newspapers and magazines, but the company forgot to put contact information in the ad? Does that make print ineffective?

These examples may seem obvious to many, but that is because this media has been around for a long time and we have gotten used to what works and what does not.

Social media is something that takes time to understand, and most small businesses do not have a lot of time to devote to learning and connecting in this user-generated media. There is value, it will just take some education on the media, and time to connect with your community. Furthermore, if small businesses turn to social media for advice they are connecting with the people who matter most: the customer. This is why so many businesses fail, they are trying to interpret business advice from Forbes magazine rather than connecting with the people who will keep them in business. You will never find the secret to success published in a book, magazine, or newspaper. The secret to success is listening to your consumers.

Nothing just happens for free, that's why it is called work.

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