While this month’s theme is family business I’m going to slightly take a step back and look at small businesses. My inspiration for this month’s article came from an article in the Scotsman titled: ‘social media ‘a waste of time’ for many Scottish businesses’.
My initial thoughts were WOW. Then, a waste of time?! And, I’m only at the title. Giving the article the once over, the basis and statistics of the article are results from a study by Glasgow Caledonian University and IT firm NSDesign.
To give you a flavour, it was reported that ‘a quarter of the first that use Twitter don’t find the website useful and 35 per cent of those with blogs say they don’t give them returns’. Now I have put this in as a quote because this is what I hate about the press and statistics!
When we write we take our own biases and personal opinion into our writing and analysis, and statistics can be manipulated to show what we want them to show. I try to show the full picture, from all angles. Clearly 75 per cent of businesses who use Twitter find it useful and 65 per cent who use a blog get a return.
Garry Ennis fonder of NSDesign is also quoted as saying that 40 per cent of small businesses who use Facebook do not find it useful but continue to use the media. This is crazy! To give Gary credit he also thinks that this is crazy!
It is not usual for 100 per cent of businesses (or people) to see benefit in something new. Social media plays a part in a new way of doing business. Results of integrating social media business practices will depend on (a) your strategy, (b) the time, resources and nurture you give to social media, and (c) how you handle hiccups along the way.
For many businesses social media is new. There is no roadmap or benchmark, it is new. When something is new we explore, we explore its significance and use for our business. If something does not work we need to have a strategy to amend.
The problem I see is that because social media has been praised in helping grow business everyone wants a piece of the action but they do not properly understand how it works and are scared to pull something when it is not working because it works for other businesses.
There is also the problem with so called and self-proclaimed ‘social media experts’ charging exuberant prices for services that do not work for their small business clients. My advice is do not go near the self-proclaimed expert, they will not help you properly. If you are given lots case studies to look at, please run a mile.
A case study has no significance for your business. You can only see the output, good or bad. You need to know what’s happening internally in the cast study business. And in many cases the case study is not comparative to your business. The industries, countries, and consumers are different. How can you base your social media strategy from a case study? You can’t.
However there are reputable social media strategists out there. My advice is if they cannot make the understanding of social media accessible to you, as their client, do not use them. You probably won’t see a benefit as you don’t properly understand, and it may show that they only have a surface understanding of social media themselves.
Five key points I see from the Scotsman article and initial results of the Glasgow Caledonian University and NSDesgin data:
- Ensure you properly understand what social media is and how it may benefit your business – it also does not work overnight, you need to spend time and nurture your connections.
- When developing a strategy don’t just follow your competitors or use the BIG 4 (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr) – social media is more than this.
- Develop a proper content and engagement strategy – don’t just make a few branded social spaces and expect to get a return.
- Monitor the results of your efforts and if something is not working amend it. I know Karen pulled the3rdi from Facebook and onto Twitter because it was not working for her. If you see no return on your blog, examine the content – is it adding value or are you just broadcasting? If it’s the latter that’s why you see no return.
- Know you customers. What do they want? What do they expect? How can you reach, engage and give value to them?
Every business is different; strategies should be tailored to the business – bespoke strategies.