Today’s Wall Street Journal Small Business story “Entrepreneurs Question Value of Social Media” contains the usual pro/con, plus/minus stance journalists must take for fair reporting. It also states new evidence suggests social media is more hype than reality.
A marketing professor, Larry Chiagouris of Pace University’s Lubin School of Business, believes strongly social media can be harmful…if you say something stupid, offensive or grammatically incorrect.
Certainly, he’s right — words can kill, hurt or maim.
But, social media provides an opportunity for the small business owner (SMB) and entrepreneur to saddle up with the big guys. In fact, the SMB can do social media a whole lot better — with more flexibility, speed and targeted messaging.
According to the story, in 2009, “social-media adoption by businesses with fewer than 100 employees doubled to 24 percent from 12 percent in a study by University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business and Network Solutions.”
The crux of the matter is this — any new communications channel provides opportunity. Stick the big toe in, test the temperature. Being timid may be safer for your company’s culture and comfort zone; however, with time comes confidence. Once you understand that you cannot be on Twitter alone or launch a Facebook page strictly to regurgitate press releases, you’ll have more success.
So, here’s something to chew on SMBs:
1. Listen to the naysayers and get the eyes wide open to what may be a passing fad (says academicians). Then ignore it!
2. Stick your neck out of the comfort zone and jump in — tweet, do a Facebook fan page, try a blog, do some Internet press releases that point to a content-rich landing page, etc.
3. Lower the expectation and get ready to be pleasantly surprised with the experience.
You see, there’s something the academics are not telling you in their lofty commentary and market research. When you engage with real people who are peers,real or potential customers, you learn. You learn more than you ever expected, and that’s the value social media brings.
Nope, it’s not hype; it’s definitely reality. What do you think?