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Small businesses aren’t using social media. So what?

Earlier this month, Telstra released the results from a survey which found the majority of small businesses aren’t using social media.

The story hit the media and several great articles were written detailing the stats, including Gina Baldassarre’s article for Dynamic Business. Interesting. But, so what?

As a small business owner myself, I am sitting on the social media fence – I recently ran my own Facebook marketing campaign which turned a $100 investment in advertising into $23k worth of revenue. Not bad.

But I know I am in the minority, talking through social media with coaching clients has given me this insight – and more.

So why are most small businesses shying away from social media?

1. Small business is still riding the first wave of the trend

At the moment we are seeing the early adopters who forge out ahead and take on tactics such as social media in their marketing from the get-go.

This can yield some great results as they position themselves as innovative, but can have some drawbacks and risks in terms of time and monetary investment. Risk-takers are simply the minority in the population.

2. We all like to feel safe

This is especially the case in small businesses, because there’s so much on the line. Most will wait until they think something is a sure thing before they opt-in in a big way.

There are plenty of visible social media gurus out there these days, but the hard evidence is not as apparent.  What we know about the sales process also applies here: if people are uncertain, they’ll opt for no.

3. They don’t understand how it works

I used to avoid liking Facebook pages because I thought if I “liked” someone’s page then they could send me loads of direct marketing and emails.

Small businesses often don’t get told the golden social media rule: marketing has to be fun and interactive, giving value back to the “liker” instead of just hitting them with a barrage of sales material. There’s a lot of misconception around how the individual might be affected.

3. If the marketing works, don’t tweet it

Small businesses usually already have a couple of marketing tactics that work really well, so the proof has to be strong to garner their attention towards another.

Great business owners tend to market in ways that have worked for them in the past. Why wouldn’t you? It would be illogical for them to change what isn’t broken.

4. It takes support

If you’re not Gen Y, or a tech lover, you may need support to get your head around it and to do it consistently. If it appears too big or too hard, people shy away from it.

When it’s a medium that requires an extra level to get their head around, the payoff has got to be GOOD. Time investment vs return is a huge small business issue.

I would argue that social media purely as a social tool is old hat, but its relationship to marketing is still quite young as far as cultural shifts go. But if small business continues to ignore social media, then they’ll be left out in the cold.

There’s still a bit of resistance from small business owners, but a lot of them are just now coming around to the potential of social media. Give them some time to shift their perception, and the stats will change dramatically. It’s only a matter of time.

What do you think?

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Maureen Pound

Maureen Pound

Maureen is an entrepreneur, trainer, coach and speaker. For over 10 years she has coached and trained thousands of business people - from large companies such as ANZ and Stockland, right down to smaller successful niche businesses. She believes in working together to be bold in business, and shares her knowledge through blog posts and videos on <a href="http://www.maureenpound.com">her website</a>.

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