As more and more data continues to pour in about small businesses’ adoption of social media, a few things are becoming crystal clear.
The first is that no platform has truly set itself apart from another, despite which survey you look at and what type of small business you ask. Many would argue Facebook has, but others disagree. The second is that the adoption of social media platforms continue to grow, but at a disparate pace (i.e. sometimes fast, sometimes slow). Third, it’s very obvious that small businesses are (still) very much in the “feeling out” stage when it comes to what works and what doesn’t related to social media. Perceptions are constantly (and consistently) changing, value to the business differs and new platforms continue to sprout up each year. It’s no wonder small business owners are confused about where to start, how to make it work and most importantly, how to derive any revenue from it.FULL ENTRY
Think about your group of friends for a minute. Are any of them moms? Do any of them have a blog where they talk about the pitfalls, products, services and challenges that go along with being a mom or parent? Chances are you do, because right now there are an estimated 3.9 million people that identify themselves as "mommy bloggers" in the United States alone, according to research released last year by Scarborough Research.FULL ENTRY
Today I stumbled across one of the most interesting infographics I have seen in a long time.
Not only is it chock full of interesting small business data (which we'll get to in a second) but it's the first "interactive" infographic I have seen. Essentially, you can click on different parts of it to find different pieces of information. It's not "static" like most infographics. Designed so that you spend more time consuming the data, it accomplished it's mission with me. You can click here to navigate to the interactive graphic and scroll through the data yourself.
It was produced by Good Infographics, in conjunction with UPS as part of a "Small Business Collaborative." and it includes some eye popping stats in relation to Massachusetts small businesses. Some interested tidbits included:FULL ENTRY
It's no secret that Massachusetts is a regulation heavy state. It's been a long held maxim that if you want to get anything done in this state, you have to know the ins and outs of the system and it never hurts to "know someone."FULL ENTRY
Mobile Personal Assistants are the New Digital Wingman - An infographic by the team at Nuance's Survey Around Mobile Personal Assistants
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It's the start of a new year, which means hope abounds for everyone.
January is the time for new ventures, new resolutions and renewed faith in all the things that you want to accomplish this year that you didn't get to last year. In fact, "starting my own business" is always one of the most popular New Year's resolutions every single year. For the most part, 2012 was a good year for small businesses. As a group it didn't grow as much as the government would have liked, but that's understandable given the economic challenges. Overall though, optimism was high and the numbers were good.FULL ENTRY
If one was so inclined, with all the notifications that come with smartphones, someone could set it up to "ding" every few minutes with something. Phone messages, texts, Facebook updates, Twitter updates, AP News feeds, software upgrades, gaming activity - the list goes on and on.
For me personally, I make it a point to turn off all of these distractions so that the only time my phone makes noise is when I get a text message, or someone is calling. That ensures that I check it, assuming that it's coming from someone relatively important with a message that I want to see. But last week, when I got a text message from my local dentist, telling me that I am due for a bi annual cleaning, I was a little taken aback. The first thought that went through my head was, "oh jeez I need to schedule that, I AM due for a cleaning." My second thought was, "hey wait a minute, I don't remember opting into text message marketing from my dentist."FULL ENTRY
Depending on who you believe, Small Business Saturday was a booming success or fell flat of expectations. As I mentioned last week regardless of how much money was spent, how many mentions were made in social media or how many politicians decided to trumpet the day as some kind of American holiday, awareness for small businesses as a group is never a bad thing. It is important to keep in mind however, that this was first and foremost and without question a marketing campaign for American Express. Friend Gene Marks makes a very compelling and well thought out case for this in his Huffington Post story this week.
Knowing that however, can we realistically look at the numbers provided and suggest that it actually drove money (ultimately the most important thing) into small business owners' pockets?FULL ENTRY
Everyone knows Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. People wait in line for hours, in the wee hours of the morning, to get the best deals they can. Stores have started running promotions early, even turning Black Friday into a month long event, rather than a 24 hour sale. It's become so ingrained in American culture, people forget that the initial connotation for Black Friday marked the stock market crash on Sept. 24, 1869. In the 1950's, workers adopted the phrase to mark the day after Thanksgiving and the number of employees who simply wouldn't show up for work. Despite it's nuances, the day has become a national shopping holiday.
However, the transformation of the Saturday following Black Friday has been nearly as remarkable as Black Friday itself. In just a few short years Small Business Saturday has taken hold on November 24. It's the day that American Express, along with a slew of influential partners including the Small Business Administration, multiple professional sports organizations and some of the countries biggest corporations (including Facebook) want you to "shop small." I wrote about this last year, allowing real small businesses to weigh in with their thoughts.FULL ENTRY
After months and months of campaigning, the election has finally come to an end. With president Obama winning a second term in office, the question now becomes what does this mean for small business owners? The truth is no one really knows what it will mean for small business owners because so much is still left in doubt. While one question has been answered, many more remain. Much like the rest of the country, most small businesses were split over whether or not the president being reelected was a good thing.
Now the common topic has been the fiscal cliff that the country may or may not fall off of, depending on the actions of Congress between now and the end of the year. So what has become clear in certain for small business owners?FULL ENTRY
A new survey from Vertical Response, an online marketing provider, recently took a look at small businesses and their use of social media. While the basic findings like Facebook still being the No. 1 platform, and time being an issue were not surprising, some things did stand out to me. As I've mentioned in the past, social is something small business owners should embark on carefully, and consider the time investment before jumping in.FULL ENTRY
Ticket sales as an industry, have never been more controversial. Because the secondary ticket market is where the majority of tickets are purchased - through ticket brokers like StubHub, TicketMaster and other online sites - fans are often left with one of two options in seeing their favorite band or act: pay far above face value for the tickets, or stay home.
As an example, tickets to the upcoming Rolling Stones 50th anniversary tour were being listed as high as $10,000.
The result has been a number of start-ups launched to try and capitalize on the appetite for sold out shows, but also the secondary market for tickets. One has even managed to combine buying tickets online with giving to charity, a unique combination that has grown into a successful venture in just five short years.FULL ENTRY
Depending on what methodology you believe, a Facebook fan could be worth upwards of $100 or as little as $1.00. Some have speculated that fans are worth $10, based on brands advertising on Facebook and the number of impressions they get with actions taken. FULL ENTRY
They say that there's a business for everything. In many cases there are more than one. Oftentimes it's a different spin on an existing business that succeeds. One of my goals for this blog is to higlight the business owners that have taken a chance in starting a business that's doing things differently and having an impact locally, nationally or globally.FULL ENTRY
If I had a dime for every survey that measured the activity level of small business owners in social media, I'd be a millionaire. Or at the very least, close.
The frustrating part about the survey process is that most come to different conclusions, focus on different small business demographics or have questions that aren't getting at the heart of the issue. Just because a small business is "using" social media doesn't mean they are succeeding with it, it doesn't mean they are making money with it, and it doesn't mean that they are going to elevate it to the primary marketing tactic in the next year plus.FULL ENTRY
One thing that small businesses always seem to struggle with is writing. In my conversations with them, it's always a topic that comes up. Owners aren't sure what to put on their website, emails, blogs, even social media updates. Sometimes even flyers and postcard mailings can become difficult to write for. It's understandable, writing isn't easy and there are many forms that small businesses have to know if they are going to succeed. Considering all the marketing materials that have to be produced and social media now working into the mix, being nimble enough to write in many different ways is important.FULL ENTRY
Most small businesses will go above and beyond to do a great job for their clients. You won't have too look far for a small business owner who's going the extra mile - be it ensuring that the meal you had was up to par, the work that was done on the house was done to specifications, or that your taxes were done correctly and you got the refund you deserve.
The truth is, they oftentimes have to. In order to "rise above" the bigger competition, small businesses have long had to rely on personal service and a more catered approach with clients in order to keep them happy, and paying over a longer period of time. They should be applauded for that, but sometimes small business owners aren't selfish enough when asking for customers to also go above and beyond in recognizing good work. It's probably rare to see someone pay more than the bill, even if the work was exceptional, but that doesn't mean a customer can't take steps after the work is done to show appreciation.FULL ENTRY
Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email email@example.com.
This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.