In my last post, I introduced the concept of the 80/20 rule in the context of a typical business's customer base where 80% of a company's revenue comes from 20% of that customer base. In this post, I want to shift the context of the 80/20 rule to the general business universe - in terms of the number of businesses actually leveraging the power of social media to its fullest extent. By fullest extent I mean it's producing a meaningful, measurable impact on the business.
I regularly talk to business owners from a wide variety of industries and by habit, I ask where they are - where they show up - with their online efforts. Regardless of their size and sophistication, an increasingly growing percentage will recite what I call standard coverage: website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (this skews more to B2B than B2C). And for those that profess to have a blog on their website (less than half in my unscientific calculation), they've been able to automate the distribution of blog content to their social media presence in some way.
When I take the time to check things out by visiting a company's site, Facebook page, Twitter account and LinkedIn presence, it quickly becomes apparent that while their is indeed presence, there is no strategic intent reflected across this standard coverage. Using this background, it leads me to conclude that the 80/20 (it might even by 90/10 or 95/5) rule is alive and well in terms of the percentage of companies truly getting their bang for the buck with their social media practices. While that is good news for the 20%'ers, it does not bode well for the other 80%.
I am in the process of developing a survey, and searching for the best avenues in which to distribute it, that will provide better feedback on this issue. My gut instinct is that the small business community is vastly underutilizing the power of social media. I also believe that because of their limited resources - time, budget, staffing and access to professional support, they are finding it increasingly difficult to compete in today's markets.
I'm a firm believer in the ingenuity inherent in the small business community - both on the client side and the service provider side - ingenuity that will provide the impetus to solve this issue. It will take some creative thinking on the service provider side to come up with offerings that allow small businesses to progress through the necessary phases to successfully leverage social media. And it will require small business to step up to the plate and extend the ownership mentality that launched their businesses over to making social media work.