As business owners, we all walk a fine line ... trying to stay up-to-date, without getting sliced and diced on the bleeding edge of technology. So, we watch and debate and contemplate whether NOW is the time to jump on the local social bandwagon.
As a YP publisher, how much should you invest in bringing social solutions to your SMB customers?
I think you still need to be cautious. Not head-in-the-sand unaware, but cautious. Facebook's IPO may make some think the social experiment has finally gone mainstream ... but other indicators tell me the verdict is not in yet.
Why? Because I think social is still shaky. Oh, there's no doubt that social media is here to stay -- but in what form, on what platform, and at what cost? We still don't know. When should you hop on? Right now social is a bit like a high-speed train whose destination and time of arrival are both unknown. Imagine trying to hop that train before it stops at a station. Sounds like a really messy way to die!
Let me share a story about my cousin Jeff, who canceled his Facebook account last week.
This makes me sad because I enjoyed chatting with him and keeping up with family through his regular posts. But it also makes me think about Facebook's value to business. You see, Jeff is a customer no one wants to lose. He is a wealthy business owner. He buys luxury cars, vacation homes and small jets. He has a CPA and a lawyer. He belongs to a gym and invests in his personal health and fitness. He and his wife eat at the finest restaurants, frequent upscale shopping venues, and have an abundance of that "perfect customer" trait known as discretionary income.
You won't reach Jeff on Facebook (or any social platform) ... not anymore. Why not? Because he got disgusted, just plain disgusted, with what he felt was manipulation by "a bunch of twenty-somethings who just won the IPO lottery treating this platform like own personal playground." Those were his exact words, and frankly, words I have heard from an awful lot of people (aka "buyers"). He hated the new Timeline, and he hated even more that it was foisted upon him despite his protests. He hated the new algorithms that FB is applying to news feeds and displays. He hated the targeted advertising that was starting to feel like Big Brother watching him. He just hated it.
So he quit.
And, for the record, he still does not Tweet, and does not even know about Google+, FourSquare, Yelp or any of the targeted social platforms. Facebook was about as "social" as he was willing to get. Worse yet, after this dismal experience, he is even less likely to get wrapped up with the next social phenomenon.
He's a fifty-something with a smart phone and a pair of reading glasses. He's the guy your SMB customers want delivered to their doorstep.
I'm just saying that local social isn't going to do it ... at least not yet.