Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Small biz is better at social media than big companies

A new Regus survey says that small businesses are doing a better job of leveraging social media than big companies. When it comes to acquiring new customers through social media:

  • 44 percent of small companies have done so, compared with
  • 36 percent of medium sized companies and
  • 28 percent of large businesses.

Well, duh. A push of the tiller can turn a sailboat must faster than a tanker. The list of stakeholders who have to approve any and all parts of a new initiative can pile up pretty quickly at a portal, for instance. That explains the popularity of the "do it and apologize for it later" approach. At the last portal I worked for, we started tweeting the newest and best stuff that could drive traffic to our channels long before management approved a social media policy and sanctioned the use of Twitter as part of its marketing plan.

There are many benefits of the skunk-work approach, especially inside big companies. If it doesn't work, it was a single employee's initiative, little effort was wasted and the failure was limited. If it does work, you have easy justification for building it into the business plan, management can take the credit for being forward-thinking, and you're the new golden child.

Predictably, financial institutions have had the hardest time getting traction in social media - they're heavily legislated and have to deal with compliance rules regarding how they contact the public and whether that contact constituted advice or a service.

But 58 percent of respondents to the Regus survey said they'd used social media for keeping in touch with business contacts. Sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are now being used more than job boards to recruit talent, touch base with folks who have skill sets and advice you can tap, and tie into communities who can help grow your business.

It really isn't rocket science, but I've seen so many examples of people doing it wrong that I wrote a list of Facebook No-Nos for Small Business and How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network - or Destroy Your Career for AOL Canada's WalletPop blog.

You spam your friends' friends or connections of your connections at your own risk, yeah? It's a little crazy that people need to be told that.


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