Today it’s Trend # 5 from Top Ten Small Business Trends from Small Business Development Labs.
Trend #5: Social Media Moves to the Small Business Mainstream: “Despite the hype, the vast majority of small businesses haven’t used social media on a regular basis for business purposes.”
I don’t see this transformation happening in 2011. The authors are right that most small businesess haven’t had any business strategy related to social media. The ones that do are typically solo-preneurs or small firms in the social media space–web designers, marketing, advertising and pr firms, and social media consultants. If your small company hasn’t made any headway in considering how social media needs to fit within your business development strategy, it’s not likely that you will master it in 2011, nor will most of your peers. That said, the implication for whale hunting companies is profound.
I interviewed Gini Dietrich, Founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, about the social media trends she sees for 2011 and recommendations for small business owners. She highlighted the role that content will play in getting the attention of customers, and told us a lot about how she has built her brand around content delivered through social media channels. Gini also talks about her methods for generating content (because she produces most of it herself). You can listen to the interview here (Premium membership to Pier9 required) or read Gini’s article about 8 mega trends that are important for small business owners to understand.
For whale hunters, it’s critically important to approach your company’s social media involvement strategically. Here are a few key questions:
- What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to attract new customers? Establish your company as a leading authority? Use your social media engagement as a research process for learning about whales? All of the above? Be careful that your strategy is designed to serve your whale-hunting needs, not just to attract minnows.
- Who or what will be “the face” of your company? Will it be a person or people? Will it be your logo with an anonymous, “corporate” voice? These are real decisions for your involvement in Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook for example. There is no single right answer; it depends on your goals.
- Who will manage your social media presence and how much time will they devote? The social media channels are currently free to use, which makes them so attractive to small business. But there is a very significant cost in yours and/or your employees’ time spent in making contributions to social sites.
- What kind of policies will guide your team’s participation? Your social media presence creates a brand image and a brand promise. Do you want to be a friendly, “let’s get to know each other” presence, an authoritative voice, or a customer service center? Be clear about your expectations with guidelines for use.
- Will you do it yourself or outsource? Many small companies don’t have the internal resources and/or expertise to develop and implement a social media strategy focused on business development. Other small companies are growing by becoming social media experts. You can even outsource content development, such as engaging a blog ghost writer. Just don’t avoid having a strategy only because you don’t have the current internal capacity.
This is a trend to watch, and if you’re not actively considering where it fits in your bigger picture, it’s time that you do.
Do you have a social media strategy? How did you craft it?