The Age of the Customer®, Part 13: Breaking news: Social media to end websites

Jim Blasingame

Being successful with social media is as easy as falling off of a log - for individuals; for small businesses, not so much.

The goals of these two groups are very different: Individuals use social media to connect and share with friends and family. The return-on-investment expectation is pretty low - just "hit" them back, and they're happy campers.

Businesses develop a social media strategy to connect with and ultimately sell to customers. And that last part - sell - is what makes their social media ROI so tricky.

But the social media landscape - and the technology - is evolving, which should make it easier for businesses to wrap their marketing plans around. And just like the initial craze and subsequent evolution of websites, businesses are figuring out how to use social media as a customer acquisition tool. Ironically, while websites aren't going away anytime soon, they may be the big loser to social media. Here's why.

Websites have two things working against them: 1) most are not easy for the typical owner to update, which is increasingly important to customers; 2) they don't come with their own community, nor help you build one.

One of the most troubling statistics in the 16 years since the first commercial website is that half of small businesses still don't have one.  My prediction is that within three years, over half of small businesses will have a social media presence, because this strategy comes with both of the elements lacking in a website: easy to create and update, and community-building tools. For example: - makes it easy to create a business "fan page" and update it without direct expense. Plus, it comes with a growing global ecosystem of half-a-billion Earthlings. - has content size restrictions, but it's free, easy to use and update, and also has a built-in network of innumerable communities.

Remember, as the original social media heretic, I don't even like the term for business, preferring "building online customer communities." Regardless, while social media is a craze, it isn't a fad; it is real and it will last. In fact, here's another prediction:

Within five years we won't talk about social media. Businesses that thrive in the second decade of the 21st century will naturally build customer communities seamlessly across all platforms: online, mobile, and, yes, even traditional media and the original social media, face-to-face.

Write this on a rock...   It's not too early to start building customer communities seamlessly across all platforms.

Jim Blasingame is creator and host of the Small Business Advocate Show.
Copyright 2011, author reatins ownership. All Rights Reserved.

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