Recently there seems to be a number of articles and adverts discussing social media for small business, particularly helping to integrate and provide social media services. Is it that small businesses are somehow different to their larger counterparts and need to be provided for in a different way?
The answer to this question isn’t a straight yes or no.
Most companies big or small adhere to rules of best business practice but because of the different size of the companies their internal structures differ greatly.
Larger businesses often develop into flat organizational structures with each separate department being responsible for decision making who then report to a senior manager whilst smaller companies have a taller, narrower structure with one or two decision makers responsible for the majority of company decisions, so much more multi-tasking involved.
In a report conducted over the last few months by King Fish Media in association with Junta 42 and Hubspot, 72% of businesses claimed that they have a social media policy in place and of the other companies, 80% of them claimed that they will be implementing one within the next year.
It’s almost hard to believe then that only 9% of these companies have a full time position within the company to handle all of the social media requirements. However these figures need to be put into context. Of all the businesses in this report, 77% of them were companies with 50 staff or fewer but only 3% had 500 – 1,000 employees.
We can begin to see the difference here between small and big business. The bigger businesses have taken the opportunity to benefit from this new and effective form of customer communication and marketing, a lot of them have sought professional advice from exterior professional companies and as a result have taken steps to set up specific departments or included their efforts into the existing marketing or PR departments. Smaller business can be seen to claim a strategy but as we can make out from these figures the majority have not committed enough resources or made the required effort to adopt a successful policy.
Examples of the success that social networking, communication and marketing can bring can clearly be seen by Starbucks, Ford and Dell who all have realistic budgets and professionals working on their campaigns.
Now I know that for many smaller companies the logistics of actually hiring a full time professional may be somewhat daunting, especially if you do not know what qualities you should be looking for or what kind of parameters to set your new employee.
Outsourcing the requirements of smaller companies makes far more business sense in most cases. Companies can consult or seek professional advice from social media companies and engage them on more favorable terms than hiring a full time employee.
In answer the original question then, it does appear that small and large companies should be treated differently when looking at their social media requirements and logistics. When it comes to their social media needs, small businesses are largely missing out on the benefits that a well executed campaign can bring them.
The place to start for a smaller business is to gather as much information as you can before jumping in.