Small Biz Social Media

I’ve become really fascinated with how small independent businesses can take advantage of emergent social web tools. Much of my professional experience has been in the non-corporate world (except for Ritz Carlton, Hyatt, GTE Sprint, and some early career positions); independents generating less than $5 million in annual revenues.

The growth challenges posed to independents are, I believe, much more difficult than that for larger organizations. With larger organizations comes economies of scale. The independent organization manager has so many more hats to wear and not nearly the time or educational resources available.

How can these organizations take advantage of the new tools of the social web? The social web research firm Wetpaint/Altimeter found that organizations with total social media engagement were able to grow their businesses by 18%. It’s no secret that the social web offers organizations opportunities, but these players aren’t able to afford the market rate for social media strategists and community managers ($100/hour and $60/hour respectively).

**Please do not think you can conduct good social media by hiring a kid with a large Facebook account – that will FAIL miserably.

How does an independent restaurant, inn or coffee house effectively compete against the multi-units in social media? This question has been rattling around my brain for the past six months and I think there is a minimum of three answers:

Do It Yourself.  Doing it yourself offers the operator complete control. It also means significant time in learning effective strategies, tools and methods. In addition, it means significant time involvement in maintaining your social media activities (production, distribution, monitoring, engagement).

Outsource To A Large Firm. Outsourcing to a large firm can be attractive because of the automation offered in distribution, monitoring and analysis. In addition, you don’t have to invest time and money in learning effective strategies, tools and methods.  The disadvantage is that your organization will still have to do the content production and the engagement, requiring your time and attention.

Hire A Small Professional Creative Company. I posit that this is the best option for the independent small business. The creative company brings all the resources for production, distribution, monitoring and engagement – crafting and executing a sound and highly individualized strategy. Time requirement for the organization is minimal, requiring meeting in person or through technology for the creative professional to gather some raw content and give reports/feedback. It’s personal and accountable.

I’m going to forecast here that 2010 will be the year we’ll see an explosion of small creative social media providers catering to small business. Market rates will be reasonable, ball-parking in the $500 to $1000 per month range. With small business being the backbone of the American economy, I believe these social media providers will become the norm.

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4 Comments to “Small Biz Social Media”

  1. The value of social media is directly tied to what you’re willing to expose.

    My clients watch my twitter stream (@gestalt) and I say some things which may damage my image with them; but it’s the *genuine me*, and not a corporate image. They are paying for the whole package, and I show it to them.

    Risky, but I own my own little 1.5 employee web studio, so risk and teetering on the brink of destitution is the SOP around here. And, as you might notice, my twitter account, is named after my business… but my business IS me– without me, there would be no Gestalt.

    So, I would say that larger organizations are in fact – by definition – not capable of communicating at the same level. Larger companies are collectivized to pool resources and reduce risk; they are essentially hive-minds, which employ all sorts of internal, involuntary communicative black boxes on their outputs. Even an individual in such a place is speaking with a self-identity which includes being a representative of that organization.

  2. Hi Jeff:

    Really good info for small businesses. Social Media is definitely a direction for promoting any business.

    What about Mobile Marketing. Most everyone in the social media world is also texting.

    Every business hsould have their own Key word for Texting.. Example Text BIZ to 82222.

    I have my own peersonal key word Text ALKRAUZA to 82222

    A business can get a key word FREE from BIZ Global Media. Go to http://www.bizgm.com
    click Key Word

    Keep up the good work

    Al

  3. Jeff –

    Nice piece on small business adoption of social media. As an entrepreneur I’ve found social media to be a great tool. Twitter in particular has been very successful for us. I call it the serendipity engine because so many interesting opportunities have popped up from our networking efforts. (PR, Small Business of the Month, new clients, etc.) I really believe social media is a tremendous equalizer for small business.

    I’d be interested in hearing comments from other entrepreneurs.

    Cheers,
    Geoff

  4. Amen to that, Brother Kingman!

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