Now that it’s clear social media isn’t a fad, “big” businesses are learning how to “listen” to their customers, “open two-way communication channels” and demonstrate that they “care” through their new social media strategies.
Local business owners are working really hard not to roll their eyes.
Local business owners don’t need to learn to listen to customers and respond to their needs – they do that every day. Without the ability to connect with patrons and adjust business practices to meet their needs, local business owners would not only have failing businesses, they would have failing social lives, since the only way to avoid customer feedback – offered in the grocery store, at the post office, during a soccer game – is to stay locked in their houses.
While these constant customer connections may be annoying on a nice evening out, they also illustrate a huge market advantage: local business owners already understand the most important part of social media.
Success in social media isn’t about becoming a technology powerhouse – by the time a social media tool has the ability to transform a business, it’s technologically quite boring.
Success in social media is about building relationships – the same kind of relationships already built face-to-face – with people who are not able (and increasingly not willing) to physically walk into a business.
While big business owners are learning to behave like the human beings customers want to know, like and trust, local business owners are simply translating the relationship-building work they've done their whole lives into this new medium. It's not "nothing" work, and it's good to know there are people who can help - but using social media is way easier than reinventing an entire business model.
In other words, local businesses are no longer striving to emulate the "big guys" – they are continuing to work hard to be themselves and so they can connect with us.
Looking for specific examples of how local businesses are making the transition? Check out these concrete ideas from business owners in Blacksburg, Virginia.