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Social Media: For Small Business, It Can Be Like Jumping Hurdles

This post is part of The PR Channel’s “Guest Blogger Series” featuring insights from Austin-area entrepreneurs and business leaders in areas complementary to PR (including marketing, sales, graphic design, web development and more).

By Robert Hale

Social media continues to grow globally in terms of adoption, usage, interest and impact in a massive way. It’s undeniably changing the way that content and information work particularly in terms of the publishing of consumer opinion. This has transformed the way that consumers relate to brands and the way that brands should operate, driving direct interaction, transparency and a more consultative approach.

However, we still operate in a system defined by the old media world and consequently small businesses are still tentative to jump on board. From my experience, there are a number of reasons why they have yet to embrace the real opportunities that involvement can deliver:

1. Social Media is often viewed as just another marketing channel: It is truly so much more; it is a completely different approach to interacting with consumers and customers. Of course, you can advertise in a social media environment, but the true return on investment comes from developing communities, creating content to be shared, and talking and listening directly with consumers.

2. It does not fit into current structures: True social media falls somewhere between marketing, PR, communications, content production and web development. No one is quite sure whose responsibility it is and who should ultimately deliver their organization social media strategy.

3. Communities and content are global: Users of social media connect, consume, and share content globally with little care for international borders. Marketing and PR professionals and objectives are set up nationally or regionally. Very few small businesses have a truly international structure and perspective why not spread your message to as many people as you can.

4. Social media needs a long term approach: To build community, distribute content, or get people actively involved in an application takes time. Marketing and PR work on short time frames and are wedded to sets of individual campaigns or short term objectives. Social media is not a campaign, it’s a permanent approach.

5. No guaranteed results: You book advertising and it’s guaranteed to work. For, example you book a web campaign on page views and you keep going until you reach your goal. This is what advertisers call a push medium, i.e. you choose when people see it. Social media is a pull medium; usage and interaction is totally dependent on the user choosing to do so. If it’s not relevant or lacks creative brilliance it will not work. This makes it hard.

6. The metrics are new: We are used to the big and small numbers of advertising, but these numbers are different. Advertising is measured in booked exposures, i.e. page views, while social media is measured in direct interactions, i.e. number of friends, number of views or number of users. These numbers will always be smaller, but not necessarily any less measure of success.

Robert Hale is a Professional Marketer, Brand Builder and Sponsorship Expert living in Austin TX. Currently the Director of Marketing and Corporate Relations for the Texas Restaurant Association. To keep up on Robert’s work visit his blog 4 Wall Marketing and Sponsorships at  http://4wallmarketing.blogspot.com/

 

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