Businesses are just starting to use social media as a key strategy for growth. Some are hesitant, however. I don’t think social business is ever going away, although the tools are rapidly changing. Many small businesses aren’t clear which tactics are best for their company, and how to get the most out of their social media efforts.
What’s important to know is that starting now is essential. Really, and I’ll tell you why.
Given that social business is just getting started, you may be tempted to wait until the technology matures and there is more evidence of its business value. That would be a mistake. That would delay its potential in your organization with detrimental consequences for your marketing, innovation, leadership and operations.
Your competitors probably have already started using social contacts. Most business leaders (86%) predict that using social sites will be even more important in the next three years, according to a survey released by MIT Sloane Management Review:
A majority of respondents (52%) to our survey believe that social business is important or somewhat important to their business today. Fully 86% of managers believe social business will be important or somewhat important in three years. Social business is viewed most often as a tool for external-facing activities.
- Survey respondents say marketing, sales and customer service are most responsible for driving social software use in their organizations.
- On average, respondents say the most important use of social software is for managing customer relationships.
- The second most important use of social software is to innovate for competitive differentiation.
It’s important to notice that those companies that view social media as key to business growth are both small businesses and large corporations. This makes sense: small companies want to appear bigger, corporations want to appear more accessible. Both want to improve their credibility and trustworthiness with consumers.
Respondents from small and large companies say social business is important to their organization at twice the rate of managers from midsize companies.
- To back their social business activities, both small companies (those with fewer than 1,000 employees) and large companies (those with more than 100,000 employees) tend to have stronger management support for social business initiatives than do midsize companies.
- Over time, the gap between small, midsize and large companies may narrow. When managers were asked about the importance of social business to their organization three years from today, there was little difference between how these groups view the future importance of social business.
Key takeaways: With social tools, small companies are demonstrating that they can appear larger than their actual size; large companies can appear less like corporate behemoths. Midsize companies see the advantages of social tools but, in general, do not see themselves exploiting these advantages for another few years.
No matter what sized company you’re involved with, be thinking about how you’re participating today on social sites and what you want that to be next year. Trust me, it’s not going away. People are people and they love connecting. Make sure you’re part of the conversation.
Here’s a start: download my free white paper, The Keys to Social Media Marketing Success. This is essential knowledge for business leaders and entrepreneurs of small companies. Get your report now. You’ll be armed with the basics that are important for your business growth.