Social Media Sets Small Business Back 50 Years (In a Good Way)

Fifty years ago business was far different than it is today. Fast forward to today and social media has taken us back to what's truly important in business.

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Not only is this ineffective, it’s not going to win you any friends or loyal customers either.

I personally don’t get mad when I see these types of people or businesses muddying up my Twitter stream. Why? Because I know that they won’t be around long. These are the same types of entrepreneurs that insist “Twitter is great, but it doesn’t work. I didn’t see my conversions increase, nor did I receive a significant spike in business.”

Yet when you look at their social media communications in retrospect you think, “I could have saved them 6 months of wasted effort.”

The missing link for many of these entrepreneurs is: the relationship factor.

The value in social media as a business tool lies in your ability to have a conversation with your customer. Many businesses on social media networks are lacking the essential component: conversation. Their conversations are the equivalent of trying to have a conversation about a product with a billboard or an infomercial. It’s annoying to say the least.

Basically, most businesses still don’t “get” social media which is exactly why most of them are using it incorrectly.

The Correct Way to Leverage Social Media in Business

For those small businesses using social media properly, it can easily become a throwback to my earlier butcher example.

You now have the chance to learn from and interact with your customers.

Encourage them. Ask them about their day-to-day life. Get feedback on your products or service. Offer them deals for brand loyalty. Above all else, just spend time having a conversation. Don’t merely look at your social media fans and followers as business tools.

Provide excellent service, a friendly conversation, and some help from time to time (without expecting anything in return) and you’ll see that you aren’t just farming for customers, you are cultivating a relationship that you can potentially harvest year after year.

Adapt or Die: The Future of Small Business

All of this frames the idea that our grandparents are way more suited to run a business than you, or me.

They understand the value of a friendly face and superior service that has obviously been lost on our generation. I like to call my generation the “gimme-gimme” generation. We want products cheap, and quickly. Customer service only matters when something is broken. Yet this is changing as more and more young entrepreneurs adopt a “personal is better” mentality.

Oh, and by the way … it’s happening right now, so get on board.

Over the course of the next decade we’re going to see a huge shift in the way business takes place. We’re living in an unprecedented time when industry giants have the ability to talk one-on-one with their customers.

For example, not sure if a new pair of sneakers you want runs in black, as well as white? Tweet them and ask their customer service representative while you’re at the mall.

During this shift, you’re going to see a lot of old school businesses become irrelevant, or bankrupt. It won’t be for a lack of trying, but in this adapt or die business environment, it’s – well – adapt or die.

Do you think that’s an exaggeration? Ask Blockbuster how a “failure to adapt” worked for their bottom line.

The companies that thrive are going to be those that aim to provide value by tapping into the power of their social accounts rather than just tweeting or posting discounts and new product launches. All others will start a slow decline toward irrelevance. Which side are you going to be on?

Connect with Chris on Twitter.

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Photo Credit: Jaclyn Smith

Chris Warden is a seasoned entrepreneur and CEO. Starting his entrepreneurial career at age 19, Chris now serves as CEO of Spread Effect, a leading content marketing and publishing company. Through effective content creation and promotion, Spread Effect ensures that your brand becomes a thought leader online. Chris is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and often writes about content marketing, SEO, and business development. He’s passionate about helping growing companies and loves to chat with like-minded individuals. Connect with Chris on LinkedInGoogle+, and Twitter.

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