Whilst this blog is aimed at smaller business operators and marketers, I’m often surprised at how many larger business executives comment in response to, or even share it.
It appears that many larger businesses have much the same struggles as their smaller counterparts when it comes to adopting and embracing the digital world – despite their greater means to do so.
So this blog entry is aimed as much at larger business managers just as much as smaller ones.
Because, in particular, larger business managers are as guilty as those running smaller ones when it comes to failing to get on board the social networking bandwagon.
A quick straw poll of my favourite Facebook Group for business owners – ‘I am a Business Owner in Victoria, Australia’ tells me that just one respondent in 20 has more than 10 staff.
So in this instance, managers with less than 10 staff outnumber the ‘10 or mores’ by 20 to one!
Whilst many managers might well have a ‘passive’ LinkedIn page and even join a few professional LinkedIn Groups, few appear to indulge in that new opiate of the masses, Facebook.
Of course most would argue that they don’t need to.
Why actually use the biggest communication and marketing phenomenon so far this millennium when so many reports, white papers, articles and if you have the real big bucks, consultants, give you all the social networking stats and developments you need?
Why tap into the medium that 1.23 billion active users turn to when it comes to recommending or requesting information on pretty much every consumer purchase there is?
From rock concerts to ballet, from toothpaste to dentists and from computers to mouse pads, Facebookers are constantly reviewing, or requesting information about products and services.
Facebook has proven to be a living, breathing, real-time consumer – and to some degree, a B2B referral engine.
And whilst the aforementioned sources of data might provide some evidence as to why your business needs a presence on social networks, what it doesn’t do is provide real insights into just how consumers communicate within this fascinating and hugely influential medium.
I mean, taking it back a generation, which managers of consumer products businesses would not bother to watch television in order to gain insights into how it works?
Who wouldn’t watch it to understand how the then biggest infotainment medium actually worked, what content its consumers view, how the best advertisers present themselves?
Or to see what your competitors might be up to in trying to pinch your customers?
All for just the price of your television set.
Yet by not operating and maintaining a personal Facebook page, managers are not only failing to truly understand how consumers (and other business operators) use this increasingly important medium, they expose their business to relying purely on third party experts to run their social networking presence – a risky and potentially costly exercise.
What’s more, it deprives managers of those insights that businesses need to stay ahead of the competition rather than constantly feel they are playing catch-up football against the reigning premiers.
The car you never drive
It’s a bit like going to all the trouble and expense of getting your car licence, buying a nice car and then leaving it in the garage to gather dust.
Yet this licence to freewheel the information superhighway – in so doing truly experiencing what all the fuss is about, is literally at their fingertips.
Perhaps it’s yet another example of the technophobia that blights the Australian management landscape. A surprising number of managers would rather ignore a technology development than be seen to be learning its ropes, fearing such lack of competency would undermine their authority.
Name your poison
Or perhaps it’s a kind of arrogance that their time is way too valuable to spend time mucking about on a social networking medium populated by schoolkids, retirees and bored stay at home parents.
Some may even feel its setting a bad example to the staff who waste so much of their time social networking themselves.
It reminds me of the car sales manager who not that long ago, ignored hundreds of emailed sales enquiries because ‘email is something the techheads do’. True story.
Either way, ignoring the most significant consumer communications development since the mobile phone is not doing a thing to stop your competitors leveraging it to make a play for your customers while your business falls asleep at the wheel.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.