Why most small / medium businesses struggle with social media.

Where is the expected added business?
Social media appears to be a new marketing tool. It looks like a new way to get closer to customers, win some more deals, creating a new communication channel. But where is the new business?

How can I turn it into an $800 Million Business?
It was just a little bit too simple. And like anywhere else, there is no free lunch. But social media has a huge potential. It wasn’t just for fun that Zappos, an online shoe retailer was acquired for $800 Million dollar by Amazon. So what is it that makes social media work for some and not for others?

It is actually only one tiny difference:
For some social media is a new marketing channel, get done with it and go on with business as usual. Honestly, how could that work? For others social media is a whole new way of doing business with existing customers, partners and the rest of the market across all departments. Yes, it needs some thinking – but again, there is no free lunch. The latter ones are the winner.

Customers across all industries complain that the vendors, channels and suppliers they deal with provide a mediocre to lousy service, the companies are not approachable and nobody seem to listen. Businesses are so busy with themselves fighting the “business climate” that they seem to oversee that the most important aspect of getting business up are happy customers. Obviously even the coolest social media campaign won’t help at all – if the rest of the company does business as usual. If Customers complain about approachability social media can help to get the team more approachable. If service is a weakness, social relationships between service team and customer would be a great deal of improvement. If products lack functionality requested by users, social media is a great way to connect product management with the market. Interestingly enough, in none of the above scenarios a “cool social media marketing campaign” is the weakness or even required to engage.

How to solve the problem:
1) Understand that social media is a cross functional engagement
2) Don’t hire an external social media team but create a social culture internally
3) Keep sales in charge of customer relationships – but in a more social way
4) Make product development more approachable and listen to the market by being part of the social web
5) Ask marketing to help gather data and reports from the social web and escalate alerts inside the organization
6) Develop a strategy based on a thorough social media assessment
7) Engage in the social web with the goal to increase customer advocacy
8) Have a small team well educated and professionally execute the strategy

The Social Media Academy conducts a complimentary webinar this Friday Aug 14, with further details on the topic.

Axel Schultze Axel Schultze MyXeeSM


  1. Catherine SherwoodCatherine Sherwood08-12-2009

    Axel, what you say makes a lot of sense. I have always felt that to use social media just as a marketing tool does not fully alter the relationship between a company and its customers. If the intital promise of engagement disappears once a product or service is purchased, then customers will become cynical. A narrow "marketing" approach also does not fully take advantage of the advocacy that customers can bring IF they are treated well through out the lifecycle of their relationship with the company. Social media forces you to think like a person in your business as well as your private life. No one want to keep a relationship with a person who always has a personal agenda of how you can help him/her out. the same is true with the customer relationship.

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