What follows is no major piece of market research – just genuine feedback from some businesses we’ve spoken to over the last few months. We’ve picked up recurring themes (or fears?) that are troubling small business owners about making the social media leap. 

Thought we’d share them with you. Ring any bells?

1. “Twitter? I don’t care what people are having for breakfast!”

Some small business owners still believe that social media (and especially Twitter) is a waste of time that only appeals to inane, juvenile slackers. Why? They’ve seen their teenage sons and daughters using Facebook, Twitter, Formspring, Bebo and the like to follow celebrities and exchange meaningful messages like “LOOOOOOL!!!”, “FAIL!!!!”, “WTF?????!!”, “FML!!!” with their mates. They just don’t see the value.

It’s no coincidence that these same business owners are normally not social media users themselves. That’s a big barrier to overcome without proper guidance.

Yes, it’s true that social media becomes most effective when it reflects ‘personality’, but that shouldn’t be confused with ‘personal information’. Nobody wants to know what YOU had for breakfast (unless you ARE a celebrity). But they might want to know an expert view on the state of the market a business represents. Small businesses can offer that.

It’s not about breakfast. Many business owners would be amazed at the percentage of their customers using social media effectively everyday to connect, influence, exchange information, comment, recommend and complain. The sooner their business gets involved in the, the better.


2. “I can’t afford the time to Tweet”

Reality is, you can’t afford not to. Small businesses are concerned that getting involved with social media will rob them of precious time they already don’t have. This may be because subconsciously they still regard Facebook and Twitter as a past time rather than an important part of their marketing communications.

This obstacle is fairly easy to overcome through awareness, organisation and planning. Once the business owner realises the benefits of social media as part of their overall marketing mix; it’s then just a simple process to schedule their involvement.

Agree the tone of voice, language and subject matter and the content can be drawn up and published to a schedule! A month in advance if necessary. Amazing! That’s not to say it doesn’t need 24/7 monitoring and ongoing interaction, but there are automatic monitoring tools that will prompt and shape responses and conversations.


3. “There might be negative comments posted about our business on Facebook or Twitter and if we’re using social media people are more likely to do this.”

Calm down. A few facts (that some small business owners don’t appreciate):

  • Although the social media universe is a democracy, you can often moderate damaging or abusive comments (on your Facebook page, your blog or YouTube channel for instance) before they do any damage. You can certainly be alerted to every time someone gives bad feedback – anywhere on the web. Doesn’t often happen unless you are a) Nestle or b) really bad at what you do.
  • People can say negative things about your business via social media whether you are there or not. At least if you ARE there, you have the opportunity to be aware of the grievance and resolve matters – or at least be seen to be acting reasonably in an attempt to resolve matters. This wins your business much kudos among other social media users who could be potential customers.
  • Your company’s presence on social media can often flush out a dissatisfied. THIS IS GOOD. It  gives you the opportunity to handle the problem and repair the damage. Everyone likes to read positive reviews about their business, but the NEGATIVE ones are far more useful! Unfortunately, you never get to hear 90% of most customer dissatisfaction. Social media can help redress that balance.

4. “I just don’t do things like Facebook – I’m not the type”

Be objective!  That’s no reason not to use it for your company. You may know your customers, but it’s unlikely you are exactly the same profile. Just because you don’t use social media, that’s not to say they don’t.

Alternatively, small business owners are simply overwhelmed with the amount of new information to learn about social media and it puts them off. Have no fear – it’s easier than you think, just ignore the smoke and mirrors. If you don’t, your competitors will. Well, they are already in fact…

Business networking is a really effective way of winning and keeping customers. Social media for business can be seen as an effective way to do this online – but with more of your potential customers at once. Who wouldn’t want that for their business?

If you’re really NOT the type and can’t change, at least try to recognise the value and hand responsibility for social media for your business to another member of staff who actually enjoys doing the stuff.

So, if you’ve read this and feel we’ve mentioned something close to home, don’t be surprised. Many people feel the same way.

BUT, with a little help and guidance, these fears are easily overcome and then small businesses (in many cases more than larger businesses) can really start to reap the rewards that social media offers.