Has SME's (small to medium enterprises) taken up the social networking banner? I'm coming off one of my branding projects and as part of the research we asked the brand customers if they use Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter or None of the above.
100% of the respondents answered "none of the above." 100% can you believe that? Wow.
That flies in the face of what traditional media says on the subject. But in my local market, ( southwestern Ontario/Michigan ) it does resonate to some degree. Most of whom I speak with have very little knowledge on the subject, or are curious but noncommittal. They hear the buzz, but don't understand what it means for them. Since I work with predominately the heads of companies, they understand the passive approach of traditional media, where you run an ad or send out PR and wait for a response (if any). Social is very much a hands on, labor intense exercise. It also has to be on-going and non-stop. This takes quite a commitment.
I see it in my wife Rose. She loves Facebook and spends hours every evening doing her thing on her MacBook. In my region, there are the social guru's who try to help SME's grapple with it. Even after all this initial startup effort, those who carry it forward are a small minority. Myself, I am 100% committed to blogging. Here and at my own blog (Brand Corral), I try to keep the information flowing. My efforts have definitely been rewarded with leads, projects and publicity. Friends and colleagues are fascinated by the results i've gotten. But as I share with them - it's got nothing to do with luck but solid effort. I'm going into my seventh year blogging now, and it is my number one online marketing vehicle. Offline is networking, which to me is live blogging in a sense.
Clients I have convinced to blog are still hard at it and are getting results. Any reaction they get is attributed to their efforts and opinion. They have embraced social media and are forming relationships with readers in their categories. They too, are getting leads, projects and publicity.
It escapes me why any modern SME would ignore the potential of social. The only explanation I have is that the traditional media when reporting on it view it from strictly the personal side. They appear never to speak from a business to business perspective. When they do address business it is more the consumer versus business side. So the natural reaction is going to be - "How does that help me get more business? I don't care that a potential customer's cat's birthday is tomorrow."
Facebook is introducing Timelines now. I understand that they are considering a business version. This hesitation on their side, will only exasperate the business person trying to come to grips with all of this. I only use Facebook and Twitter to promote my articles to try and draw audience back to my blog and website. I yearn for a productive presence on Facebook. Over time I'm confident the social media will shake out and a business fit will flow from it. I admire those of us who have successfully integrated Facebook and Twitter into their marketing efforts with results. I envy you. Myself, I love blogging, and have centred my efforts there.
This year for Christmas, why not give yourself the gift of committing to one of the social medias to start building your online audience. I know for a fact that your SME is on the good list of Social Santa, so you're deserving!