While having a conversation with several small business owners one of them asked a question that left me somewhat speechless.
Social media is a fad right?
The question appeared sincere on the surface but there was an underlying nervousness that told me this wasn’t the true nature of what I was being asked. It was more “Please tell me social media is a fad and my business will be okay if I ignore it.”
Everyone knew what social media was and were quite aware of how widespread it had become. They weren’t sure how it could benefit their operations.
It isn’t that most small business owners think this online social movement is a fad. They are just unsure how to use it and how to integrate social media into their operations. Many lack the necessary expertise and resources required to have a social strategy. In fact, many of them struggle with having an online presence period!
Here’s the bad news for some. Social Media is not a fad.
Facebook has reached over 750 million active users. Twitter has over 200 million users. Google Plus is approaching 30 million users. LinkedIn has more than 120 million users. People watch over 3 billion videos a day on YouTube. There’s an estimated 200 million blogs publishing content.
Simply put, this is a revolution.
There is no way any business can sit and hope to ride this craze out. Social media is here to stay.
Social media changes how people find and interact with businesses. It provides a competitive advantage by placing the small business in the same arena as its customers and becomes a way to have conversations with customers.
I’ve said this many times. Social media allows you to build relationships and it’s the relationship that will “sell” the business.
Take a moment and think about why you buy from certain businesses.
Typically we buy from companies we like. Small mom and pop operations at one time thrived in local markets because their expertise was well known in the local area. Everyone knew the butcher, barber, TV repairman and the mechanic.
Customers trusted these businesses to provide value for money spent and fix it when things went wrong.
As business models evolved, things changed.
Larger companies needed to move into local markets to sustain their growing operations. They offered lower prices for the same products and services as the local mom and pop shops.
Some of these couldn’t compete with the new competition but others not only survived but they thrived. Why? Because customers trusted them more.
These operations were known for listening to their customers and being engaging. They didn’t necessarily offer the best price but they offered the best service and were known for being their when needed by their customers.
It was the ongoing and meaningful relationship that created a sense of trust.
Social media allows all businesses, not just the small business, to interact with customers at time convenient for them. It has evolved into a natural extension of real world relationships and extends the trust relationship beyond the boundaries of the traditional brick and mortar operation.
This is why social media is important for the small business because social media is about relationships.
My answer for the individual who asked “Social media is a fad right?”
I didn’t answer his question. We just sat, had a few beers, talked about business, why we started doing what we did and the differences we had made in people’s lives. We talked about some highs and some lows we had both experienced and how we dealt with making things right for our customers.
Social media was far from our minds.
At the end of the night he was asked why I had ignored his question. I smiled and said “I didn’t. Think about what we talked and tell me if you think social media is still a fad.”
Everyone got the point I was making.