Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Small Organisation and the Social Media

We are all aware of the critical importance of creating an active presence in the conversation. As our society becomes increasingly interconnected; a result of ever more engaging communications technologies, the need for organisations to create a presence within the resultant conversation has quickly emerged as a vital prerequisite for contemporary business success. Discussions concerning the social media presence have, to date, examined the issue primarily from the perspective of the large organisation. Whilst these online discussions provide a fantastic resource from which to craft an organisational social media strategy for the larger firm, time and resource constraints will almost certainly prevent the smaller organisation from adopting such an immersive strategy. It's time to consider the little guy.

The Social Obligation
Anyone who has developed an active presence within the social media will recognise the significant investment of time and effort required to succeed within the field. Efforts to remain relevant are ongoing, and those that fail to constantly engage their audience can find their subsequent efforts significantly affected. Such efforts often represent a full time commitment, particularly where brand monitoring efforts are concerned, and many social media commentators suggest that creating a presence is more an obligation than an option for those looking to protect their brand online. In the past, noteworthy bloggers such as Jacob Morgan have made the assessment that organisations need to consider employing their own Social Media Department in order to appropriately address the issue; a sentiment mirrored by many others in the field. The difficulties associated with creating an organisational presence raises the obvious concern; what happens to those organisations that hardly have the resources to spare?

Allocating Success
As the economy continues to worsen, owners of small businesses are increasingly having to make life altering decisions concerning the allocation of resources, both human and material. Many such organisations scarcely have the resources available to continue operating efficiently, let alone to engage the customer in conversation. With the introduction of the conversation as a crucial element for business success, I fear that many proactive entrepreneurs will engage the social media in an attempt to remain relevant within the minds of their customers. In the absense of suitably available resources, such an approach, whilst admirable, may prove catastrophic to the business, causing attention to be diverted away from the core actions required to continue driving the business forward.

It's Social Media; Only Smaller...!
Can smaller organisations afford to ignore the social media in favour of more specific action? Well, that's an interesting topic for debate. We should remember though that the social media has enabled organisations to engage the customer like never before. As these tools becoming ever more user friendly, the ease of establishing a degree of community based presence rises proportionately. Over the coming days, I will be examining a number of the solutions available to smaller businesses, emphasising that the social media need not detract from the day to day running of the business. The first of these will examine Social Bookmarking.

In the mean time, I would love to hear of your experiences of small businesses employing the social media, and how these have affected their operations; whether these experiences were positive or negative. For now, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you back here later in the week.


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