For those of us immersed in social media—from the endless tweets to the blog posts, news stories and conversations in the echo chamber—it seems like social media has saturated not only our lives but businesses as well.
If that’s how you feel, you are living in a bubble. Estimates vary, but a recent study by BIA Kelsey, of over 1 million small to medium businesses found that only 19.5 percent of SMB sites link to their Facebook page, and an even small percentage link to Twitter and other sites.
From my own personal conversations with people in small to medium businesses as well, the overwhelming majority have the attitudes from not getting its usefulness at all for business to thinking it makes sense but having no clue how to use it.
At a recent eTail conference, I heard about mobile marketing for 3 days straight but nary a peep about social media. It was stunning. This is a conference of the top internet retailers in the world.
And to put a fine point on all of this, P & G, a company with one of the largest marketing budgets in the world just– really just—woke up to it (at least on the level that a company like P & G should have woken up to it a couple of years ago) and had to lay off thousands of people to make the shift .
Where is business in the timeline of accepting social media at least a viable, if not critical form of marketing? Oh, I’d say it’s around 2001. In 2001, 3 years after I had launched e-commerce capabilities for the Lion Brand website that started as one page in 1995, I remember people were wondering whether there was a point to this internet thing. First came the craze and then came the bursting of the dot com bubble. Not only did people not believe (by a longshot) that virtually every business needed a website, but they took the bursting of the bubble to mean that the internet thing would pass.
That’s where we stand in 2012 with social media. Most companies are years behind where they need to be in terms of budget allocations, hiring, education and implementation. The discipline of social media marketing is new and still developing. Hopefully that won’t stop business owners from recognizing that stepping into social media is critical and urgent. Yes, they will make mistakes but the bigger mistake is depending on traditional media as the sole source of marketing.