Citibank surveyed small businesses recently and found that the number that use social media to help market their offerings jumped from 19 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2011. That’s a nice jump for a segment of the business world woefully behind the digital curve. Network Solutions and the University of Maryland research shows only 44 percent of small businesses even have websites, so the upward trend is good news for those of us providing services like social media training, social media consulting and even digital marketing advice.
But, as I’ve asked before, how big is the gap and what can we do to make it smaller? If a small business owner who doesn’t feel comfortable with technology wants to have a WordPress blog? Will they take hours to learn the nuts and bolts of hosting, FTP, design and code to make it work? If not, can they afford a few thousand dollars investment they’d likely need to hire a digital shop to do it for them? What if that small business wants to monitor the social web for industry mentions? Sure, there are free services out there, but nothing with robust functionality falls into a price range below $50 or so a month. While that’s not a great deal of money, $50 a month to a $150,000 a year business is more of an investment than you think when there’s no corresponding revenue directly tied to it.
Who will answer digital marketing questions small business owners have? “Experts” on LinkedIn? Twitter? Sure, some will, but do small business owners not already online and plugged in know to find them there?
The opportunity awaits those of us willing to focus on someone other than enterprise clients. I’m trying to do my part to help answer social media questions and be a sort-of on-call consultant at Exploring Social Media, but I worry that the basics, the tools and the professional services we offer are priced out of range for the new businesses coming into our marketplace. I want social media marketing to be accessible. For them, much of it won’t be.
Unless we do something about it. Thoughts?
- Citibank Survey Finds Small Business Owners Taking Action to Grow in 2011 (e1evation.com)
- Social Media for Small Businesses Is Anything But Small (blogs.constantcontact.com)
- Can Small Businesses Do Social Media? (markevanstech.com)