The Center for Media Research sent out their email Research Brief today about how small business are not into social networks for leads. As a small businessman myself, I agree with them. Kinda. I can’t recall the last lead I got twittering out my latest status or a coupon deal or where I am going to be at a certain time if anyone wants to chat, etc.
But then I got to thinking about how all the ways I use social media networks and how we employ them for a lot of our clients and kinda changed my mind. The problem is not the social media networks not being effective, but the MARKETING of the social media networks not being effective.
For example, one particular client uses Twitter to send out job posts, facilitate responses back to the post which enables qualified applicants to reply very quickly and the listing client to fill the job quickly. This in turn enables them to schedule in-store work faster and drive their completion rates higher with their clients. Yet, if you asked the primary client if social media networks are helpful in generating any leads, they would say, “Not at all.” Mostly because the process is automated and invisible, but also because it is not marketed heavily. They know traffic is up dramatically and that jobs are being filled exponentially faster, but because they don’t have a direct hand in the process, it is taken for granted.
Moreover, since the client is also on a WordPress framework, their bi-weekly articles are now more “Google/Yahoo!/Bing-friendly,” which enables potential customers to find them more readily as SEO/SEM is easier to implement. Since all of this is invisible, again, their answer would be, “Not at all.”
Tools like RSS, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN are being used effectively by small business even if they are used invisibly. Just because the CEO doesn’t tweet doesn’t mean they are not using social media. Dig a little and you’ll find many probably are. They just don’t know it.
For small business, it is all about the return today for effort I put in yesterday. Market social media without the “engagement” and “conversation” hype and stick to the operational parts and only then will we see a rise in the “Very helpful” 3%.