social media for small businesses

WTF? Friday: Social Media: Is it Better to do it Badly than Not at All?

By Public Relations, Social Media

Mashable reported this week on a study that said 64% of small businesses think social media is not necessary.

Nicole Perrin, senior editor at eMarketer, says she’s not surprised by the results. “We typically don’t see that they see this as the be-all, end-all,” she says, noting that small businesses often lack the resources to execute a social media marketing plan. “They’re still very focused on traditional word of mouth and very used to traditional marketing.”

A couple of things that are odd, in the quote above — the assumption that word of mouth only happens on the phone or in person — which is ridiculous — and the assumption that traditional marketing remains separate from digital marketing. Is e-mail marketing old enough to be considered “traditional” marketing, yet, I wonder.

I can’t really fathom what small businesses are truly thinking when they respond that they’re not using social media for business purposes at all. How are they hiring people? How do they find vendors?

More results from the study included:

– 47% of respondents indicated they did not use social
media for business purposes at all

For those that did use social media for their business:


– 19% are using Facebook

– 15% are using LinkedIn

– 4% are using Twitter

The businesses using social media also ranked the most important channels they used to grow and expand their business:

– 28% selected a company Facebook page

– 18% selected a company page / group on LinkedIn

– 8% indicated a company blog had helped them the most

Small businesses do often point to the lack of resources as their reason for failing to use social media tools (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Google+, etc.) to connect with customers and potential customers. In discussion with social strategy thought leaders, the position is sometimes that small businesses would be better off doing nothing than doing a poor job.

I’m curious what other small business people think about this –– is it better, in your opinion, to refrain from having a social media presence at all, to have a website with no blog, to ignore online mentions or reviews of your business, to abstain from joining and participating in social networks, than to do it a little bit, or without much enthusiasm or commitment?

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought . . . and I don’t think I agree. I don’t think that small businesses can steer completely clear of using online tools to support business any more. I don’t think any business really has a choice anymore.

I think there are minimum investments in social strategy that every small business MUST make.  

That’s right. Bold. Italicized. All caps MUST.

Monitoring the social web is one, having a Web site that works for mobile and can be viewed in multiple browsers is another. Being able to update the business’ web presence yourselves is yet another, and a startling number of small businesses still lack this level of control.

Encouragingly, some get it, as the final results from the report show, and while the learning curve is steep, I expect the trend to continue.

When all respondents were asked about how they felt about using social media for their


– 12% describe it as a must, they do it all the time

– 24% do it when they have the time

– 14% indicated they don’t know enough about it


The Wendy Edwards Show Podcast and my Promise to Sing

By Social Media

This week I was a guest of the Wendy Edwards show, part of the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. I spoke with Wendy about branding, social media and marketing for small businesses.

Give it a listen!

Also, Wendy managed to get me to confess to a 1976 performance of a Shirley Temple song (listen to the podcast to find out what song!) — and I’ve foolishly promised to repeat that song in an encore performance on YouTube if my business’ Facebook Page reaches 500 fans by March 31, 2011.

How about it? Will you make me sing?

7-Steps to Social Media Startup for Small Businesses

By Social Media

My friend Denny and I go way back. So far, in fact, that I remember him trying to teach me how to do paradiddles during our freshman year sociology class at the University of Missouri.

Apparently people call him Dennis now, but he’ll always be Denny to me.

Yes, Denny is a drummer (that’s a recent photo on the right), and it’s been no surprise to me that over the last several years he’s been teaching young kids how to be drummers, too.

The music store where Denny taught is closing shop, and Denny intends to continue his side-business from home. He reached out to me for some advice on how to market his services efficiently and inexpensively.

Here’s what I told him to do . . .

7 Steps to Social Media Startup for Small Businesses

  1. Buy the domain name for your business and/or your first and last name.
  2. Arrange for a year or more of hosting the website (I am fond of DreamHost).
  3. Install something easy to manage, like WordPress on the site.
  4. Get some YouTube videos posted of you and your students.
  5. Create a Facebook page for your business and share it with all of your friends, students and former students.
  6. Grab a Twitter account and include “drum lessons” and your location in the bio — make sure you’re following people in your community (find them via Tweepz.com) and interacting with them.
  7. Create a schedule for yourself and post new content to your website at least once a week — drum solo videos, your thoughts on your approach to teaching, your favorite drummers (etc.)

If Denny, (ahem) Dennis, does all of this, and makes sure he’s connecting via LinkedIn and Facebook with members of his community, parents and potential students, I’m sure he’ll have dozens of future drummers beating down his door.