(Image attributed to Conspiracy of Happiness)
The survey states that "three-quarters of small businesses say they have not found sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn helpful for generating business leads or expanding business." (The survey was done with 500 U. S. businesses with under 100 employees.)
I admit to being dismayed by the small number, but not necessarily surprised. To quote Maria Veltre, executive vice president of Citi's Small Business segment…
"What this survey indicates to us is small businesses are very, very focused on running their business and on generating sales and managing their cash flow and doing the things that are really important, especially in these economic times…I don't think quite yet the social media piece of it has proven to be as significant."
"Proven." That's the keyword and the issue at stake. Small businesses are sticking with that which is proven. For example, according to the survey:
- 42 percent of small businesses have made greater use of their company websites to generate business leads and sales
- 19 percent were doing more advertising to attract new customers in the economic downturn
- 28 percent were using more email marketing
- 25 percent using more online advertising to generate business leads and sales
You can't blame them really. When times are tough, most stick with the tried-and-true. Email has long proven itself to be a cost-effective means of marketing, as has search (SEO and PPC). More online marketing dollars are spent on those forms of media than any other.
Proving the Case for Social Media Marketing
It's not without merit that the sub-title of my new book, The Digital Handshake, is "Seven PROVEN Strategies to Grow Your Business Using Social Media." The book is replete with examples and case studies of companies large and small who are successfully using social media to affect their bottom line.
With a title like that, it is incumbent upon me to prove that this medium does indeed work. That is going to be the focus of my efforts over the next few months. I'm going to:
- Blog about the case studies included in the book
- Find examples of other small businesspeople who are using these tools successfully and blog about them
- Re-kick start the What's Working Wiki so that people can post their own success stories or those of others
Let me end with a short story.
A shoe salesman is assigned a new territory, some islands in the south Pacific. He gets to one such island and finds that no one there is wearing shoes. He calls his boss and says, "We can never be successful here. No one wears shoes."
Needless to say, he is quickly replaced by another, more optimistic salesman. That person shows up at the same island, calls his boss and says, "Send me 1,000 pair today! We're going to do great. No one here wears shoes!"
This stuff works folks. I bank my entire career on it! So, in response to Citibank's survey, I say: "No one here is using social media? Send me 1,000 blogs! We're gonna do great!"
NOTE: Read this response to the survey findings from Read Write Web.