We spend all day talking to each other about the importance of social media. I agree that it is important. We also seem to yell a lot about how social media can cure many marketing ills. I am often included in that kind of talk as well. We act as if social media is right for everyone to some degree or another. I feel that way most times but I am beginning to wonder if this is not putting the cart before the horse for the SMB (small and medium business) market.
The Center for Media Research shared a report that tells an interesting tale regarding the SMB and social media.
According to a new 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.
Why is that? Well, the next point tells the tale.
The survey found that general search engine sites such as Google and Yahoo! trump small business-focused sites and the WSJ.com as destinations for small business owners to seek business advice or information. 61% of respondents say they rely on these search engine sites.
The first reason offered for the apparent lack of social media sophistication is the lack of time. I don’t disagree but I think it may be more basic than that. I think it’s lack of trust. Most small business people are literally just starting to understand the basics of good web design and development so the social media thing is way ahead of them. Is it because they aren’t smart? No. It’s more likely that they aren’t just suckers who listen to everyone prattling on about social media and how it is the light unto their path to profits.
Many small business folks live around many small town folks. Small town folks may be using social media but they aren’t telling all of their cool friends in some urban center how they just crossed the street and are now successfully maneuvering down another block to do that again. They live where people are trying to get on with life in a difficult economic environment. As a result they are not interested in the latest and greatest social media trends. They are interested in getting what they need at the right price from someone they trust. Search engines and a good web site are more than enough to accomplish that in the vast majority of cases.
Here’s how business owners in this poll see social media
So go ahead and complain that I and the SMB just don’t get it. That’s cool. You have your opinion and it counts just as much as the next guy’s. What’s interesting though is that the battle cry of the hip or the Fortune 500 is yelled on a field far, far away from where a lot of people work, live and purchase. In fact, these aren’t battlefields at all. They are just simple places where people want some solid information they can trust and not just the referrals of ‘friends’ who wouldn’t know them if they stepped on them on their way to the next street corner.