In 1962 Disney song writers created a musical piece that could be considered prophetic. According to Wikipedia, “It’s a Small World” is the single most performed and most translated piece of music on Earth.” It is a small world. It just keeps getting smaller –thanks to social media. Social media is not only making the world smaller but turning the whole world into a small town. Now that idea might scare some of you, but for business owners this is phenomenal. Here are my seven reasons for how to see social media giving this world of ours the benefits of a small town.
- Connectivity: The whole world is connected now. From Siberia, Chile, Uganda to Tasmania and everywhere in between, we are all connected. True, it isn’t like the “real thing” where we are close enough to shake hands with one another or to catch one another’s colds but it is very real. Even for those who physically live alone in the middle of nowhere, we are not alone. With just one click you can be connected to family, friends, and even strangers. You can have a conversation no matter where we are in the world. There are those who will choose to live on or under a rock –and that’s cool– but for the most part we are social beings, wanting and needing to be connected to other human beings.
With social media, just like in small towns, you can be connected and know what’s going on with everyone all the time.
“Ever since psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted his famous research on the subject in 1967, the popular ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ theory has claimed that you can connect any two people in the world in six steps or fewer. Thanks to social media, researchers believe that number is lower. Quite a bit lower, actually. A recent study by the University of Milan and Facebook found that the average number of links between two random people is not six, but rather 4.74. That number drops to 4.37 in the United States.” macpa
- Transparency: You know everyone’s business. You can find out quickly what someone’s business is all about, and their personal life, and whatever else they seem to publish daily without thinking. It’s like in a small town, where you can hear rumors and gossip –but better. You can just go read it for yourself, then insert your self into the dialogue and start building trust. As a business owner this allows me to see what my customers need on a day-to-day basis. I can read what their preferences are. You can even know what their future needs will be. And you can do that for anyone anywhere in the world at any time. You don’t have to wait for the customer to walk into your store, you can take the store to them. News, complaints, likes and dislikes are shared for all to see online. It is surprising how in seconds information from Helena, Montana can be transferred to Blantyre, Malawi.
Another side to transparency is that people can smell a fraud from the other side of the planet, and they will share it online faster than you can sneeze. It is hard for a business to recover from conducting shady business online. So make sure your product and service are legit, because, as they say in small towns, you can’t put syrup on just anything and call it pancakes.
- Unity: People seem to quickly unite for a common cause. It is up to you and how you conduct your business to decide how to use this. You might find that playing off competition –where everyone has to have the same kind of product to keep up with the Jones’– works for you. Sometimes the kind of unity that involves pitchforks and torches is right for you. Information travels fast and furious in social media.
“If there’s any one initiative that proved just how fast information can travel, and how quickly it can catch on, it was Invisible Children’s Stop Kony campaign, with its YouTube video gaining almost 50 million views in less than a week.” –Nancy Messieh
A great benefit for businesses is that you can ask for help, and get answers to questions on any subject you can think of. An endless amount of experience and information is out there waiting on social media websites. Sure you can check a variety of online resources, but being able to get the human touch –to tap into a real person’s experience– means so much more.
- Excitement: There are some amazing results at trade shows and fairs where a presenter is so charismatic and full of substance to where people just swarm around him or her to buy whatever it is he or she is selling. They all relate, and want to be a part of it. Even if they can’t afford the product at the time, they talk about it and attract others that will buy to the presentation booth. That same concept online is called “going viral.” What works for one must work for someone else, right?
- Your Results Are Your Choice: I know people from small towns that talk about how when growing up there was nothing to do but to get drunk, and I know people from small towns that romanticize about how every day outside as a kid / teenager was an adventure and endless opportunities for fun. Your experience is what you make of it. The Internet is STILL the Wild West, and therefore you have endless opportunity to make your mark and make of it what you want. It’s all in how you look at it and what you get involved in.
“Like the Old West, social media is still largely uncharted territory for many brands and companies.” –Barry Tuck
- Real Estate (Rented or Owned) Is Cheap: …because there is so much “land” just within your reach. Continuing on the Wild West theme, putting up your own website is so cheap and easy now (owned real estate), and it is even easier to create a social media profile (rented real estate). The down side, of course, is since it is so easy to put your stake in the ground and build an online presence, is that everyone else can –and does– do it too. So UNLIKE a small town, it is much harder to get noticed, to stand out. In a small town it is easy to stick out. Not so much online.
- Reach: This could be part of the connectivity or transparency points, but it’s important enough to stand on it’s own.
“Social networking is the new normal. No matter where you are in the world, there are social networks that only continue to bring us together. In January 2012, comScore published an interesting report, ‘It’s a Social World,’ which opened a window into the world of social networking. According to comScore, numbers show that social networking is the most popular online activity worldwide. In October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, which account for 82% of the world’s population.” –Rian Solis
It is near impossible to comprehend the vast opportunities that lie in wait for business owners in social networking. The future of businesses is in social networking. In the same study comScore noted that “…nearly 1 in every 5 minutes is now spent in social networks.”
You can get your word out fast and build loyalty. You can quickly see who top influencers are in your conversations of interest and build relationships with them. Just like in a small town, if you want the word to spread quickly you go those who have the most influence with others. For example you might reach out to the barber shop and beauty shop owners, or the mayor and the local preacher’s wife. These are known for being trend-setters, influencers and cause-rally-ers.
Life in a small town might not be for everyone, but it is great for business. Are you taking advantage of the opportunities waiting for you and your business?
See the video here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBWqhfKxoB4