I saw a troubling headline (Are Small Businesses Apathetic About Social Media?) a while back related to the results of a survey of small business owners published by eMarketer. The main finding was that a strong majority (64%) of small business decision makers said social media was either 1) not necessary; 2) they didn’t know much about it; or 3) they had no opinion.
Here’s the kicker that makes that apathy funny: 50% of those same people said word-of-mouth is something they can’t do without, and 40% said word-of-mouth was their main method of generating business.
That contradiction in attitude reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a regional sales manager for a large paper products company. I was at their national sales meeting to do a social media overview presentation, and during a break this regional manager started a conversation by saying “Hey, all this social media stuff is great for big consumer brands, but you need to understand, my business is all about relationships.”
Well, needless to say, the rest of my presentation was peppered with examples of how social media builds relationships faster and more efficiently than any traditional means, and in fact works in tandem with many traditional approaches. And of course the same holds for creating word-of-mouth 2.0. I couldn’t help but launch into how social media as part of an integrated inbound marketing campaign is word-of-mouth on steroids!
Here are a few of the reasons why:
- More control/influence on your message. Your self-generated content should be a big part of the WOM you’re working to create, so you play a big role in keeping the message directed.
- Your message can go way beyond your network because of the ease of sharing social media provides. Smart, funny, relevant content will experience many generations of sharing.
- Referrals are easy! Between the formal review sites and the informal recommendations, it’s never been easier to share opinions of what we like. And you can influence recommendations by encouraging and facilitating.
- Social media accelerates relationship building. You can touch more people, more often, with greater variety of content and actually have knowledge through analytics about what is most relevant to them.
So what’s the message to SMBs that think social media isn’t relevant to their world? Stop making excuses and rationalizing about why you haven’t done anything; instead, bite the bullet and start taking positive steps to take advantage of the tools and capabilities available to every business on the planet.