Anyone reading this likely knows what blogging is about. And how you can’t go a day without hearing about Facebook or the hottest YouTube video, like Marie Osmond fainting on Dancing With The Washed-Up Stars. OK I added the washed-up part but don’t tell me you hadn’t already thought that.
So it seems like the whole world is caught up in the Web 2.0 phenomena. But apparently there is a group of folks not all that impressed with what’s going on.
A recent study by Bredin Business Information found that SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) have not jumped on the Web 2.0 bandwagon just yet. The BBI study found only 14% of the 300 people surveyed believe blogs are and will be important, while wikis, social networks and webcasts faired slightly better. Compare this to the 49% who think e-newsletters will remain important for the next five years, and you see how little love SMBs have for “the new stuff.” This comes as no real surprise.
Although many of us small biz types do blog and wiki and twitter, the vast majority of non-techie, traditional entrepreneur types aren’t drinking the kool-aid just yet. Given the typical “fear of change” and “lack of time” arguments, here are a few reasons why.
Blogs … Wikis … Podcast … Twitter …. Is it any surprise that many mainstream small business people can’t get with this stuff? I mean when I first heard the word blog I thought the guy I was talking to had some sort of speech impediment. And when compared to terms like email, e-newsletter and voicemail they do sound pretty whacked out. But what did you expect when most of this stuff was named by people not old enough to drink (legally). But now, truth be told, I really do like the creativity being used. It’s a lot catchier than regular words with an “e” or “i” stuck in front.
Silly Kid Stuff
And with the above names, is there any surprise that mainstreamers still believe this stuff isn’t for them, but for the prepubescent set? After all, kids were the ones who made this stuff popular. They showed us how to use the Web to communicate in a lot of new ways, with a lot of new tools.
But does that really have to mean people old enough to know who Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson are can’t find great uses for this stuff? If the old folks at Microsoft can shell out $240 million to those Facebook kids, it probably is safe to say Web 2.0 is definitely coming of age and is no passing fancy.
Silly Role Models
The first two reasons are just excuses. This one is really important, because when it comes to technology, many in the SMB world take their cues from the big companies that provide their tools. So they look to see if the big guys are using social media, social networks, blogging and other things. And they look for how they are using it. So it really shouldn’t come as a huge surprise why SMBs are perched comfortably atop the fence.
Until recently many big time tech companies really didn’t get Web 2.0. Some have been slow to use it themselves while others misused these tools to deliver traditional marketing messages. Why use tools meant for collaborating and community building to deliver the same old tired one-way messaging? Web 2.0 is about conversations, exchanges and creating an atmosphere where people can freely express their opinion. Not to deliver marketing schlock.
So the big guys have really got to get their acts together and use these tools to foster a dialogue, not a monologue where they speak and we listen. Those days are gone.
So I challenge them to be good Web 2.0 role models and lead by example. Join other heavyweights like Intuit, Webex, HP, Microsoft and a few others in using Web 2.0 tools to create great online communities for their customers. And last but not least, let the SMB mainstreamers know that the tools with the silly names are here to stay, and can help them compete, thrive and survive.