The computer has come a long way in the 33 years since this photo was taken. And with the advancement of computers came the birth and incredible expansion of the internet and more recently social media. Just as it is impossible to ignore the pervasive impact that computers have in our lives, and it is now also impossible for businesses to ignore the need for a social media presence.
I am someone who considers herself pretty average when it comes to the use of social media tools (on Facebook, LinkedIn; not on Twitter, never (until now) written a blog, etc), and yet I have recently fully come to grips with the fact that businesses, such as the animal clinic that I work at, need a presence on social media to survive. Here’s my top 4 reasons why:
- Even if you don’t put yourself on social media, someone else will. Sites like Yelp operate by allowing customers to review their experiences at your business, without your oversight. It has been my experience that people are more likely to review a business when they have had a negative experience there, so it is all the more important that you actively get your name and positive reputation out there.
- All your competitors are already there. You wouldn’t want your competitor getting a bigger ad in the local paper or having a more visible sign on the street, so why would you want your competitor advertising more than you on the internet?
- It is now the way news travels fastest. The story of the lost phone in NYC that was recovered through an arrest of a teenager by the NYPD was only possible due to the fact that the postings of the phone owner’s friend on social media spread quickly and widely. An ad in the paper, a report in one newspaper, or a few flyers on street poles would never have had the same impact.
- Everyone expects it. It isn’t just the younger generations using social media. I was recently at a soccer game, albeit a kind of boring soccer game, and the lady in front of me (probably in her 50s), the man next to me (probably in his 40s) and the teenagers in front and to my left were all using their smartphones to update and check Facebook at the same time during the game. Social media is spreading to all members of our society and if you are looking for a way to get the word out to all members of society – here it is.
This list may seem obvious to many of you, but it has been my experience working with small business owners that the switch to advertising in social media has been a slow one. Do they really need a Facebook page? What about Twitter? Should someone write a blog? And what the heck is Tumblr? Will this all take money away from advertising in the Yellow Pages? Seriously.
The readings this week have reinforced in my mind the importance of social media. Here Comes Everybody (Clay Shirky) has done a wonderful job of illustrating how social media has made it easier for groups to assemble (without even knowing each other and without an organizing body) and news to spread (without even the involvement of professional journalists). The story of Trent Lott’s political ouster because of news spread initially from amateur bloggers was an incredible example of the way that the world has changed since the explosion of the web and social media.
I can’t imagine why any business owner would want to miss out on the endless opportunities for growth in social media.