According to a recent survey by Hiscox, a small business insurance provider, 43% of small business feel that social media is not necessary for their business. Ironically, 50% of the same survey respondents indicated that word-of-mouth was critical for the success of their business.
Social media when done methodically and systematically is a word-of-mouth referral engine. The problem for small business is two fold, however. Small businesses do a lot with a little and so must be the case with social media. Building a recommendation engine with social media requires time and lots of it. The second issue to work past is that of instant gratification. Too many fly-by-night social media pundits claim that you can gain 1,000s of followers, 100s of recommendations, and revenue by throwing up a few tweets or a blog post here and there. Consistency is key.
Is social media the only or most important referral engine? Maybe and maybe not. Both the Internet and social networks have two unique advantages over analog based referrals — serendipity and scale. The serendipitous nature of social networks means that you can search or simply stumble upon products or services. Likewise great products and services find an amplified voice as they scale through everyone’s social graph. It’s word of mouth on steroids where one person tells their friend (with a few clicks), who tells their friends, and so on until you a large amount of eyeballs staring back at you.
All forms of marketing are important for small businesses and so to is social media marketing.
photo credit: Drab Makyo