More and more SMB’s are, at the very least, experimenting with social media. You can sense that as you see the activity by local businesses no matter where you are. The “Check Us Out on Facebook” and “Follow Us On Twitter” signs are springing up more and more on Main Street USA and for good reason.
The small local business person is at a crossroads of sorts. Traditionally, this group has accounted for much of the business growth in the US and has supplied the vast majority of jobs especially to groups that are in need of a decent job. With the current climate in Washington, DC working against everything that could move the needle for this group (credit the biggest factor) the SMB needs a chance to do something for his or her business that can get them started again.
A study reported by The Center for Media Research which was done by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business says the percentage of small businesses using social media doubled in 2009 (12% to 24%). That’s good news. I wrote more about this over at Marketing Pilgrim.
Here I would like to look at it from a different angle though. My question is which businesses or business types created this increase? I have a few very unscientific theories.
- New SMB’s – I think it is easier for a new business (of which there are many due to the increasing layoffs by corporate America) to get started with social media. Why? They have no real programs that they need to “unseat” in order to use it. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard an SMB say that they have been doing some form of marketing for years and it ends up hurting their chance to expand their marketing horizons. New business folks are more open to new ideas.
- Retail SMB’s – Small retailers have a real story to tell if they are truly a local business with personality. As I talked about here regarding Our Friends’ Closet consignment shop in Raleigh, NC, the real interest in their business are the two ladies running the shop (personalities) and the fact that they have the opportunity to showcase inventory through social media which makes their customers “check in” to see what they are carrying on any given day. B to B SMB’s don’t always have that luxury or urgency and thus they tend to be less likely to engage in social media.
- Desperate SMB’s – This is the worst case scenario. When there are no other options because cash flow is shrinking and there is no money to spend on “traditional” advertising that is not the time for the small business owner to turn to social media to “right the ship”. Social media and its impact takes time and it is not a guaranteed winner. It is best used as a complement or supplement to other marketing and should be looked at as a silver bullet that will save the day.
- Aggressive SMB’s – These are the real winners. These are the business owners who just want to win. They see that while social media may not be “normal” for them it can be valuable to them. As a result, they find a way to get involved, learn the ropes and take advantage of the situation. These folks are usually doing better than others to start and it has been because of their attitude and fortitude that that is the case.
So wherever you are in this most unscientific of polls try to move yourself into the aggressive category. While things aren’t great out there, there is still business to be won. Since we are still a capitalist country for now it is important to not sit back and wait. Get in the game. Today.