• http://twitter.com/sramnarinetwtr Sherwin Ramnarine

    Chris, I think you’ve successfully made me see the light when it comes to B2B social media. I was in the “no direct sales/no ROI” camp, but the indirect benefits you’ve explained here have changed my mind.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nirvana2546 Jose Miguel Vera

    The article in and of itself is good. However, it doesn’t really answer the question… Should local businesses use Social Media? I get the stats… thanks for that, but all in all they don’t really matter in such a broad scope when you talk about local.

    Is Google used more widely in X Location and Facebook? That might help a business make a decision. Also, not to mention traffic and time on site alone don’t really do much for a business to make that decision.

    The questions that Marketers need to ask themselves before considering doing Social Media for a client is is: What is the business model? What will we get from Social Media? Do we have something that is hot/buzz worthy? If not, can we create something that will turn into 1) exposure 2) backlinks for the actual site.

    Google has bastardized local search, and now more than ever that stands true. Not to mention that Google executives’ bonus depends on the success of G+, Social Media for Local IS worth it. However, it should not just be all the social platforms at once. There must be not just a hot product, but a hot idea behind the product.. Dollar Shaving Club, excellent example.. they have the product, how do we make it cool? Boom! Success.

    I’m personally not huge on Social Media, not because I don’t see value but because I need to work in my SM habits.. but quite frankly, Social Media has become a MUST tool for Local.. without it, it will be very tough/borderline impossible to make an SEO campaign or ORM campaign work… That’s what my experience has been in the last year.

  • http://www.esocialmedia.com Jerry Nordstrom

    Social media is a long term strategy with a strong emphasis on daily upkeep all of which results in performance data that is tough to attribute. That means three things local small businesses fear – Time, Money and complicated reporting.

    If we can keep a client committed to a fully funded internet marketing strategy including social media for 6 months we can easily show them the specific returns social provides in direct conversions and within attribution conversions. (some businesses can generate data faster than others so 6 months is a decent rule of thumb.)

    We have found using G+ and Facebook very rewarding with local in terms of goal conversions and reputation growth. Twitter? Honestly, its there, but has never shown a return worthy of pursuit.

    Local businesses should be involved in Social Media at a minimum to carve out and protect their business names. One client came to us who had refused to conduct social marketing a year ago. Today, a business with the same name in another state consistently offended customers, racked up bad reviews and then went out of business. First page results for this company name is full of SERP titles like “XYZ company Out of Business” and XYZ is a scam. The “bad company” still owns and controls the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter profile names. If you’re a local business do not wait to let this happen to you, because eventually IT WILL.

  • http://twitter.com/copyblogger Brian Clark

    You’re mischaracterizing the “digital sharecropping” argument into a straw man of your own. We completely advocate using social media to drive traffic back to a site you own. What we warn against is using, for example, a Facebook page *as your site*. That’s where the problems, and the sharecropping, happen.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi Chris-

    I understand social media. I’ve been doing it for many years.

    And I can wholeheartedly say that it is not necessary for every business, no matter how many direct and indirect benefits you mentioned in your article. I know many people will disagree with me.

    For now (because I cannot predict the future), we’ve done the pilot testing. We’ve even done full-scale implementation because the boss said so. And there are plenty of businesses that just don’t need it, or don’t need it on the scale that social media evangelists claim.

    If the decision makers or the people who greatly influence the decision makers do not trust or use social media? I don’t recommend putting the time into it. I’ll monitor for them, of course, in the event it changes. But for now, and I’m bound by NDAs for not being specific enough, I would never say that everyone needs it.

    That being said, your reasoning is sound. I like what you wrote. I should have led, with that, shouldn’t I? My apologies. I’ve liked your writing for quite some time.

  • http://twitter.com/si1very Chris Silver Smith

    Shari – you are right. There are instances where a business doesn’t get direct sales from social media, doesn’t need the additional SEO value, isn’t likely to have an online reputation issue, and doesn’t need to do customer service interactions via SM. Indeed, I know of niche markets with few competitors, little online referral sales, and particularly B2B companies that experience little issue with online reputation. Those cases don’t need to “keep up with the Jones” by undertaking a heavy social media presence.

    It’s hard to tell what percentage of businesses fall into that category. Hopefully most businesses reading my Local Search columns are trying to find ways to get the edge on their competition, so those are the ones that I think can’t afford to totally avoid a category of prominence signals.

    Thanks for your feedback — I value your comments, pro or con, always. Your advocacy of usability over SEO was industry-leading and clairvoyant!

  • http://twitter.com/si1very Chris Silver Smith

    Brian, you’re entirely right in warning people of putting all their eggs in one basket. If one invested their entire online presence in one primary social media channel it leaves them far too vulnerable to arbitrary changes and potential loss of the channel.

    I should’ve made it clearer that my beef is with people that use this as an excuse to avoid integrating social media at all. I’ve heard people use that term as a rationale for declining to build anything on social platforms. I didn’t intend to suggest that your site was making that claim — I was linking over to you as an authoritative source that defined the sharecropping term in more detail than I could go into here.

    I should’ve qualified and mentioned that there is indeed a danger involved with putting all of ones eggs in one basket!

  • http://twitter.com/si1very Chris Silver Smith

    It’s always challenging when a company or individual shares your name or a partially similar name and creates a reputation problem for you! Inevitably you end up doing some reputation repair that benefits the other, undeserving party.

  • http://www.jdizm.com/ JDIZM

    What a great read, loads of quality info here. The graph search “restaurants my friends like.” will definitely be a big selling point when it comes to persuading local biz owners to go social.

  • kevinjgallagher

    Really well written article, thank you for sharing. I think at the very least small businesses should be listening on social. This doesn’t need to take up more than 30 mins a day.

  • kevinjgallagher

    Yes Brian, But what about the time investment for a small businesses who don’t have the size of network or time like copyblogger or large brands?

  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    There has been common “misconception” that Social Media Platforms are meant just for big brands but this article rightly puts the point across.

    Local businesses often think in terms ROI rather than increasing their presence & communicating with the users.

    Social Media when used effectively can provide many indirect benefits as said in the article. Also, Facebook graph search will have phenomenal impact on consumers choice. Exculding the fact that local businesses cannot gain much of sales or site traffic, however, it will affect the ranking of your site in google search results.

    You can atleast reach to your users in terms of queries or problems they have related to your brand or product. Thus, building the Customer Relationship.

    Customer relationship is a forgotten aspect when it comes to local businesses. Remember, It is not just the sales that counts.

  • SEM Consulting

    Social media is important for local business and to attract number of daily visitors through local SEO channels. SEO Consultancy is best to launch local business campaigns.

  • Justin Sous

    First off – such a great article topic, and relatable for those of us with small business clientele.

    I agree and disagree with certain portions of the article. Do I think social media is necessary for all businesses…no. Am I doing it for all of my clients…yes. The reason for this is preparation for the unknown – we just don’t know how much influence Facebook and other social media outlets will have in the future and what “Likes” will mean to a business. Having a strategy for this is not a top priority, but it’s necessary to prepare. The fact is people aren’t going to Facebook or twitter to look for a pest control company or mechanic. If this changes for whatever reason in the future, you’ll be glad you had some sort of strategy to support this.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    Local businesses
    that don’t use social media platforms are missing out on opportunities that
    could attract more customers and help them reach new markets.