A recent study performed by American Express OPEN’s Fall 2010 “Small Business Monitor” shows that social media is on the increase with the SMB’s (small and medium business) of the world. What types of social media are used and some of the challenges faced by the SMB in the social web are interesting to note. For us bloggers in the crowd it should come as little or no surprise that the smallest percentage of adoption goes to the one that requires more work.
While just one in 10 business owners reported using social networking for marketing last year, 39% indicated they did in September 2010. The impetus is driving sales by connecting with consumers. Facebook was the clear leader among small-business owners, with 27% using the site to attract new customers, vs. 9% using LinkedIn, 8% using Twitter and 5% maintaining a blog.
Of course with 3 out of 5 small business owners not using social media at all there is still plenty of ground to cover. Here are some of the challenges faced by these small business folks as they try to integrate or avoid social media.
These types of responses are indicative of just how poorly the social media industry is educating the masses. With regard to any Internet marketing or PR effort there is a huge gap between what is said in the industry and how it is conveyed to the end user. In other words, we don’t talk their language when explaining things in the social media space thus they think it doesn’t apply to them. Makes sense but it’s not good.
For those who have decided to give social media a run here’s what was found regarding their definition of success in the practice. Look at how low generating sales is in the chart and how the second largest response in the group is saying that they receive no benefit.
Of course, social media is not for everyone and every business. However, as the medium grows there needs to be a better understanding of just how social media may be able to inject another revenue opportunity into an SMB without having to stop doing what they have always done or had success with.
The message from the social media industry tends to guide the SMB to replacing their old marketing efforts with the latest and greatest (social media). What really needs to be done is to educate them on just how social media can serve to supplement and even complement their current efforts so they can get even more mileage from an increasingly scarce marketing dollar.
Hey social media experts, mavens and pundits, this is your call to arms. Talk to the real needs of businesses and not your need to be the beginning and end all for the marketing woes of every business. Work with these people to help them see just how it all works together rather than at the expense of something. Until that mindset pervades there will be pushback and slower adoption to social media and that’s on us, not the SMB.