Rocket Science Or Brain Surgery.  Despite all the “you’ve really got to do this” admonitions, many small businesses have simply shrugged their shoulders when it comes to adopting a Social Media strategy for their company.  Why is that?

Professionals & Small Business owners are serious about their businesses, and when many see something like today’s Social Media tidal wave they get a queasy feeling because this appears to be the real deal…something they don’t understand at all is emerging as a “must-have” for the future success of their business.

The reluctance by these companies to move forward with a Social Media strategy generally reflects reservations about the time investment involved and their personal unfamiliarity with the whole “Social Thing”.  For them, the case against doing something often boils down to two factors.

Albert EinsteinThe Rocket Science Problem.  First, there is the technical complexity of establishing and maintaining a presence on the appropriate social networks…we’ll call this the Rocket Science barrier.

While most of these folks are passingly familiar with Facebook and, maybe, LinkedIn, they’ve probably never visited YouTube or Twitter and have likely never heard of Google+, Digg, or Pinterest.  Configuring a productive Social Media framework across these unfamiliar networks appears to be a huge technical barrier that promises to become a big black hole sucking up vast amounts of time before they even get started.

The good news about the Rocket Science barrier, of course, is that it’s really easy to overcome without investing big blocks of time and truckloads of money.  You don’t need to rebuild an engine or adjust the fuel injectors to drive a car…that’s why you use mechanics.  It’s the same with Social Media.  Implementing a Social Media strategy doesn’t require you to do all the technical stuff so, unless you really want to tinker with the engine, get some expert assistance…for short money, you’ll almost unquestionably end up with a better, more professional platform and, best of all, you will spend zero time worrying about the pixel width of a Facebook landing page.

Brain SurgeryThe Brain Surgery Challenge.  The second factor causing hesitation is a more serious problem and relates to uncertainties about content development.  Social Media is a whole new approach to marketing where the audience is there voluntarily and, therefore, requires something interesting and relevant in order to stay engaged.

Responding to this requirement is very different from selling…it is relationship building, and it requires businesses to think about and understand potential customers from a relationship perspective, i.e., you need to get inside their heads…therefore, we’ll call this the Brain Surgery barrier.

In its most commercially effective form, Social Media content isn’t very commercial.  People simply won’t visit a Facebook site to read ads or self-promotion…wrong venue, wrong messages, and wrong person (the visitor) controlling things.  Succinctly stated, for Social Media to work commercially its content has to be driven by the interests & motivations of potential buyers, not the sales targets of aspiring sellers.

So if you’re not talking about your products & services, how can this possibly be worth your time & effort?  It’s called networking and relationship development, and the requirements will be different for every business and group of potential customers.  Success in Social Media marketing is a process, not an event.  You build a rapport over time rather than close a sale after one call.

And when it begins to work – and this will happen – you are transformed from simply a vendor into a “go-to” resource.  And perhaps most importantly, the customer is transformed from simply a buyer into an engaged follower who looks to you for advice on their requirements.

So, for those small businesses that are hesitant to jump into Social Media, you are absolutely correct about equating content development to Brain Surgery.  Is it difficult to identify and understand the things that interest & relate to potential customers?  Absolutely…but maybe not as hard as it seems.  Is developing a long-term relationship more time consuming and complex than a quick-hit sale?  Of course it is.  So what’s the rush?

The “rush” is caused by the market.  Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., etc., are all experiencing incredible growth rates.  These subscribers aren’t phantoms – they are real, live potential customers.  The “rush” is establishing your brand where the customers are – increasingly, if you don’t have a presence on Social Media you don’t even EXIST to these potential customers.  And by the way, your competitors are there already.

Apparently harsh lessons stand the test of time…as Cato said two thousand years ago, “He who hesitates is lost.”