A recent poll by Hiscox, a small business insurance company, has been making its rounds recently with various claims (depending on which source you read). There are some not-so-surprising results in there, but I believe the most important learnings can be found just beyond the surface. Here are five bits of information from the survey followed by a few insights from yours truly.
1. 47% of respondents do not use social media for business at all and only 12% considered it a must
2. For those that do use social media for business, only 4% are using Twitter
3. 50% of respondents said the marketing tool they could not do without is word of mouth
4. Facebook and LinkedIn were the two most utilized social media platforms
5. 24% of respondents “do (social media) when I have the time”
First things first – social media and word of mouth marketing are ANYTHING but mutually exclusive. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this thought. Social media is a communication vehicle, one that appears in many forms. And while it’s not yet the significant driver for WOM (off-line remains king when talking about brand conversations between consumers), its potential is unlimited. This mindset from small biz owners and marketers has lead me, as a WOMM consultant primarily to small businesses, to focus the majority of my efforts with clients on educating. It is imperative for all of us to fully understand the capabilities and social media and how it can fit within our existing marketing plans. We need to start thinking holistically instead of in silos. Guess what – your social media will suck if your customer service sucks; nobody will talk about your brand if you’re boring; and you’ll have no online friends if you never converse and engage. It’s all connected nowadays.
Secondly, the low number of Twitter users surprises me a bit, but then again, most of my clients are either not on Twitter or use it incorrectly (i.e. as a form of one-way advertising). Education should come into play here as well. Most small business owners I speak with don’t really “get it”, they aren’t yet privy to organized content delivery systems.
Finally, the “I don’t have time” issue is surely an understandable one. Hell, that’s why you need consultants and agencies! The most important notion to understand here is that being involved in social media – the RIGHT way – takes time, energy and effort. If you don’t have them to give, then SM isn’t going to pay dividends for you.