Actual (albeit slightly paraphrased) conversations in which I’ve participated:
Circa 1995, a co-worker responding to the topic that we’ll all soon be getting laptops for work: “I don’t have time for computers or reading e-mail.” That’s just going to interfere with me getting my job done.”
Circa 2005, when I asked an IT professional if she read blogs: “I don’t have time!”
Tuesday night on the tweetchat #sbbuzz, when discussing the use of social media for small businesses, this was tweeted:
“Sorry but if a sm biz owner doesn’t have website, crawl into bed & pull covers over head.”
I went on to respond that a Web site was not essential to small business success for some small businesses. I used the example of a neighborhood dry cleaner. Of course, given the 140 character limits of Twitter, it took a couple of back and forth tweets with folks to clarify my position.
Let me stop right here and clarify the point of this post. It’s not about whether dry cleaners need Web sites. It’s that the original tweet, to me, is an example of rigid thinking. First there were Web sites, then along came blogs and other forms of social media. Therefore you must have a Web site before you engage in social media.
Remember the IT professional above? She had been a huge advocate of change when computers were introduced. But then her paradigm solidified and when social media started to emerge, her thinking went from early adapter to laggard.
I believe there may be times when a new business is starting up where it would be a better use of limited resources to jump right into social media and build the Web site later. Think neighborhood businesses with one location. A dry cleaner or a family restaurant. Or think of a small business where the customers can best be reached through social media because that’s how they prefer to communicate. (A sandwich shop near a college campus, for example.)
Can a Web site help promote the business. You bet! But it is not essential in every case. When you’re starting off a business where foot traffic is high or your customer base is your neigbhorhood, then it may be better to focus your time and resources on the least expensive ways to market rather than hiring someone to create and maintain a Web site.
But again, this is not about the Web site. It’s about the danger of getting trapped into a particular way of thinking. Assumptions can inhibit truly innovative thinking.
You owe it to your customers to be as flexible as possible when it comes to meeting their needs.
Think about it.
Are you on Twitter? So am I. txglennross