Social media is now a part of business, it’s a fact. Many large corporations have invested a considerable amount of cash into training, tuition and management consultancy fees trying to get this new communication channel right. Still more have spent dollars on so-called “collaborative software packages and platforms” trying to bring this new business process to bear upon their organisation.
The interesting thing here is, small to medium sized businesses have just got on with it. That is to say, smaller firms have found themselves comparatively less encumbered by the shackles of corporate “messaging approval” and other legalities so that they have simply used existing social media channels from Facebook to Twitter and beyond to talk to their customers in their natural voice.
This is the suggestion of research coming out of Portsmouth Business School which quotes Dr Lillian Clark, a senior lecturer in human resource and marketing management. Dr Clark has suggested that big corporations may well do better to take a lead from the natural efforts of the small business community and hold back big expenditure plans that bring in purchased resources to support this new trend.
Quoted on UK marketing website The Drum, Dr Clark has said that social media is “changing the DNA” of businesses and of marketing.
“Big businesses are flying by the seat of their pants; they are hiring large numbers of people to take care of their social media, but it hasn’t been proven that earning Facebook ‘likes’ adds anything at all to the bottom line,” she said. “What we can see already is many SMEs are doing social media brilliantly. Informal, open communication is often at the heart of their business and that works in social media.”
Our perspective on this supports Dr Clarks assertions to a degree i.e. while there is clearly a place for corporate messaging controls and professional communications standards in every large company, big businesses should perhaps select “evangelists” or “champions” who (under a moderate degree of guidance) should be able to use their own natural voice and enthusiasm for their company’s products and services to engage a social media audience.
There is a lesson to be leaned here for sure, but it is still comparatively early days and social media is still finding its feet.