Earlier this week, I posted a link to an article on Twitter about the increasing adoption of social media by small businesses. The article, published by Frank Reed of the Marketing Pilgrim Blog, discusses the ways businesses are using social media, their successes, and some of their ongoing concerns about making social media a part of their operations. The Marketing Pilgrim's post is based on a study conducted by the Center for Media Research.
There were a number of things in this article that I found interesting, most notably the concerns small businesses have about social media. The article cites two big concerns:
Now, another small business advocate preaching about the greatness of social media is nothing new, but I was a bit surprised that these two concerns were as prominent as the study would suggest. I felt the need to address them with a realistic look at both.
First, let's look at the time commitment required by social media. For many small business owners, social media might as well be a foreign language - Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and blogs might be nothing more than buzz words you've heard but never investigated. In that case, I have to be honest:
It will take more time at first.
But, doesn't any implementation of a new technology or process in a business?
Think back to the days when computers were the next big thing. How many businesses owners were able to buy a few computers, plug them in, and be up and running the next day with no learning curve? Or, putting technology aside, consider the implementation of a new process at work. If you change the way your company's salespeople record their sales or format their sales reports, how long does it take before they've fully learned the new process? Every change includes a period of adjustment and adaptation.
Next, small business owners are concerned that social media gives customers the chance to criticize them on the internet. To be blunt: it certainly does. But that can happen whether your business is using social media or not. We've all heard the adage about satisfied customers telling a handful of people about your service and dissatisfied customers telling many more. This existed long before social media and is now only amplified because of it.
The solution? Don't give them a reason to criticize you. But if they do, wouldn't you rather you were able to address the criticism? If you have a Facebook page and a customer voices a complaint, you have the opportunity to address it (civilly, of course). If you're not using social media, you won't even be aware of the complaint.
You may be concerned about using social media for your business. But your concerns might not be as daunting as you originally thought, they just need to be put in perspective.
What are some other concerns?