Social Media: The Challenge & The Opportunity For Small Business

by | Marketing, Social Media


Statistics from Pew Research

One of the most cost-effective marketing tools for cultivating and growing word-of-mouth advertising today is social media.

It isn’t a slam dunk to growing your business. Far from it! But with a serious commitment, a clear strategy and a long-term commitment that is focused on the wants and needs of clients and potential clients, the potential to build brand name recognition and reputation is significant.

Avoiding social media, and an online presence, unless you are set to retire your business next year, is almost suicidal in today’s economy. Waiting will only put one further behind with more catching up to do down the road.

Consider these Internet and social media usage statistics:

  • In the past nine years the number of Internet users has risen from 8% of the world’s population to 73%. In North America the number is roughly 85%. (Source:
  • In North America, 78% of the population (273 million people) use the Internet; 67% of these (184 million people) are on Facebook. (Source:
  • 90% of 18 to 29 year olds use at least one social networking site. (Source: Pew Research)
  • 78% of 30 to 49 years olds use at least one social networking site. (Source: Pew Research)

As the largest social network, both in terms of the number of users and time spent on the site, Facebook is the most ‘social’ of the top five networks.

Those on Facebook are usually there to connect with family and friends. This poses opportunities and challenges for business.

The challenge: how to reach consumers without being viewed as an annoying interruption.

The opportunity: an affordable platform (for now) that can reach a targeted audience relatively inexpensively.

While Facebook is not the right medium for every business, it is a good starting point for many. The one caveat: you need to be willing to invest time and money to make it worth your while!

Social media generally, and Facebook in particular, requires a different way of thinking about how to grow one’s business. Push-style advertising that is all about us (similar to ‘it’s all about me’ kind of thinking), and not focused on the needs and wants of potential customers, doesn’t work well on social media.

So, how do you build a base of fans and brand advocates on Facebook and other social networks?

The answer isn’t all that complicated, but it isn’t a simple fix either.

It comes down to figuring out how to add value to those you are hoping to reach and then, at least periodically, investing some cash to get it into their news feed!

I’ve laid out tips, steps and other thoughts on how to get social media working for you in a few earlier articles. Rather than reinvent the wheel, or re-write the articles here, I’ve listed links to a couple of recent ones below. They’re not long but they provide important information/reminders on how to build and manage your social media presence: