How to Explain Social Media to Local Small Businesses: Give Examples


Sometimes at speaking engagements before business owners when I cover trends in social media, I know I am not making it real if I see eyes wandering and feet shifting.  

I know what they’re thinking:  “This social media stuff sounds like something from Mars or Jupiter — or the West Coast.  It has no meaning to my business here in the local community.”

I’ve learned that to explain social media I have to get specific and granular. By that I mean giving actual examples of how real businesses like theirs might use social media sites, blogs, podcasts and video.

That’s why I found Chris Brogan’s post today so helpful. He gives 8 examples of ways to use social media to promote local businesses.  Here’s one:

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Social media is one of the major marketing trends of our time. Yet, it suffers from being hard to explain to business people. 

First, there is the difficulty of explaining something radically different. If you haven’t used social media sites before, it can be tough to grasp what they’re all about just from a verbal description.  They’re so unlike anything we’ve experienced in the past.

Second, the topic of social media is riddled with conceptual terminology and a lingo all its own.  It’s the double whammy — a combination of marketing-speak and technospeak — two languages that sometimes need translation for mere mortals like the rest of us. 

Third, the business value of social media is hard to demonstrate. While social media activities may sound like fun entertainment for teenagers, just how those activities will bring customers in the door usually is not obvious. 

No wonder so many business people are skeptical.

Marketers, SEO professionals, Web designers, business communicators and PR professionals, you have a special job: you have to translate general concepts about social media into actionable advice in small digestible bites. Offer specific actionable examples like the ones Chris offers.



Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.