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

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