Social Media as a Must-do for Business Success

I was recently asked the question, "How do you convince small business owners that social media is a must-do? It wasn't difficult to answer as it's something I'm asked almost every day, and my answer remains the same. The reason? Quite simply, it works!

I believe the best way to convince small business owners to embrace social media is to educate them one piece at a time. Education must consist of both awareness and teaching.

Working with franchise organizations, I'm typically presented with the challenge of working with a mixed group of early adoptees all the way to diehard change-opponents, and many differing opinions in between. Some of the holdback is definitely generational as older businesspeople tend to be intimidated by new technology. Others are overwhelmed by the perceived complexity of utilizing social media effectively. While others chomp at the bit to move forward with full vigor!

My philosophy stems around making the learning process enjoyable. Regardless of differing opinions, skill levels and perceived or real understanding, the common denominator is emotion. Of course, emotions are easiest to work with when the path towards achieving goals and objectives is broken down into manageable components. At each transition point, a satisfying moment is key to moving the process along. For the various experience levels, the starting point is not the same.

Key elements of this process include hands-on instruction, which is made so easy today with the continued improvement of online meeting platforms. The ability to share screens creates a learning experience similar to a skilled worker manipulating and guiding the hands of an apprentice in the fine art of shaping a gem.

It also affords the opportunity for "students" to learn at their own pace. And, once they master one part, let's say Facebook, we proceed to another. Then, when that part is mastered, they learn how to integrate the two. For the more advanced it may mean working within a complex campaign of integrating basic social media with email marketing that includes video with specific geo-based objectives.

I know I veered off course and addressed the process I'm passionate about, instead of focusing on the question at hand. But, it does take sharing the passion to get the non-adoptees to drop their guard and put their toes in the water. The exhibited passion must work towards building their confidence. The transfer of passion typically results in the desire to move forward. Many never look back.

Yes, I believe it all stems from education. We must continue to provide information, show examples of practical application and success, and get them to participate… but allow them to do so at their own level and pace.

One of my most satisfying success stories had me working with a successful 50ish year old female franchisee that was intimidated by social media. She was reluctant due to her own fear of looking stupid to others. She was afraid she'd make a catastrophic mistake she wouldn't be able to correct. Her fear was very real and very difficult to overcome. She'd often exclaim, "How can I keep up once I start? It' so overwhelming!"

Well, long story short, she has become extremely proficient at utilizing social media. Her biggest motivation to take it to a new level was a result of her daughter referring to her as a "cool Mom" because she was embracing Facebook along with other "cool" social media. Is it ironic that they now communicate better than ever? After all, social media is all about communications. She now sees how this can help her communicate better with customers. And, she is enjoying herself more in business today, than yesterday.

Published: May 16th, 2011

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