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For the SMB, more online opportunity and confusion than ever

This year is starting off with a bit of a bang in the online space. Internet marketers are heralding the true “Year of Mobile” which may or may not be the case (ask 2007, 2008, and 2009 how their own “Year of Mobile” deal worked out). Both Google and Apple have purchased companies that have ad platforms for the mobile space. Google is allowing “click to call” in mobile AdWords text ads, which was once only relegated to organic results. Oh and this whole Nexus phone thing? How much more can we take?

Well, imagine now that you are an SMB (small and medium business) owner. You are busy trying to navigate the tricky waters of some very difficult economic times. You are hearing politicians fighting it out over healthcare reform but you have no real voice and may very well be facing serious increases that could hurt your business. Oh, and then there is every Internet marketing expert and his brother telling you that if you haven’t gotten on the “social media” train yet, you are likely to be economic road kill much sooner than later.
Well, I am here to say this, “Step back and take a very deep breath if you are one of those SMBs.” There is still hope. Oh and if you are one of the “experts” advising the SMB of the end of the marketing world as they know it, just step back, close your mouth and listen.
You see, there is more opportunity than ever on the Internet for the SMB. Trouble is that the Internet marketing industry has decided to bury the uninformed (which is still a very, very large majority of business owners despite what they tell you) and made it impossible to figure out what is the next best thing for them to do. Here are my few simple steps for the SMB to do to start off this new year that might help you embrace the world of social media and the opportunity it offers.

  • Take a month or two to listen. That’s right, just listen. Monitor what is being done in your industry in the social space. See what your competitors are doing. You may just find out that there are fewer businesses truly engaging customers and others effectively in social media especially at the SMB level.
  • Determine where your strengths are. Can you write pretty well? Do you connect with others in the online space or are you better face to face? Are you opinionated enough to comment on other sites and blogs and show others what you know or believe? Decide where you are good.
  • Apply your strengths and outsource your weakness. If you are highly social and you work well in a Twitter environment, then concentrate there. If you also admit that you couldn’t write your way out of a paper bag, think about how you can get some content produced through other venues.
  • Be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is an online presence. It takes time and the patience of Job. It is possible, however. In social media, more than anywhere else I think, many people “throw in the towel” just when they are about to break out. I am living proof of this because I have wanted to throw in the towel often but something is telling me that if I keep it up something very good will happen. Thus, I persevere.
  • Take experts with a grain of salt. If you are talking to an expert that is talking down to you, it would be best to get up and walk away. The only way that anything is worked out in this new social media world is as a team. No one has all the answers. It’s simply not possible.
  • Celebrate success and “Do it wrong quickly.” Take Mike’s advice on this one. Try things and then try more things. There are no real right or wrong answers. Only results speak in this environment. Celebrate and enhance the good and simply chuck the bad. Don’t over think it!
If You're Not Confused

Image by B Tal via Flickr

I wish you only the best in the upcoming year. Look at the opportunity ahead and not the opportunity lost. A year from now you may be glad you did.

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