I attended the Dublin Web Summit last week. It was good to get out of the office – away from the second-by-second deluge of information that I am faced with every day across five monitors and many more tabs and apps. I enjoyed relaxing and listening to a few happy speakers telling us all about their stellar successes. And all around me, the deluge continued: 1000 e-wannabes armed to the teeth with tablets and phones were adding their contributions to the cyber-hype. You could almost see the microwaves pinging through the charged atmosphere.
You could also easily forget that the Internet is not the main focus of most businesses on the planet. It’s a facility with an ever-expanding range of very useful tools that we can all use, but its pervasiveness and influence are such that, if we choose not to use it, our business is unlikely to be as successful as it could be.
So I ask myself; just how well does this facility serve SMEs – the businesses where the vast majority of a country’s people work and that form the backbone of most economies?
While it is supposedly key to their success, SMEs often have an uneasy relationship with the Internet. It’s a problem with many dimensions. For instance, how does an SME efficiently filter information for context, relevance, usefulness, profitability, etc, amid the cacophony of bright new offerings presented at an ever-increasing rate? Well-strategized and consistently applied social media work best, but SMEs invariably don’t have the money, time or personnel to do it well. Search engines, distorted by commercial interests, yield ever more ‘personalized’ information using multiple filters, historical and other criteria, to shape every result. Finding new and unusual information is becoming virtually impossible. Social media strategies that work today, won’t necessarily be competitive tomorrow as new tools rapidly overtake old ones. It’s difficult to identify social media courses and coaches that are ideal for any particular company and specific enough to meet their needs or add real value. I could go on…
In short, SMEs have to work at social media constantly in order to stay ahead of the game. The pace is frenetic and it’s not going to ease up any time soon.
The Internet ‘industry’ has responded to the needs of SMEs with an onslaught of new ideas, on a biblical scale. A show of hands at the Web Summit revealed that most of the 1000 attendees were developers and others working to add to that onslaught. I’m sure intentions are good, on the whole, but is the situation getting better or worse?
I guess I’m guilty, as well. After all, I’m adding to the onslaught with this short blog. Note the word ‘short’. I’ve noticed that many blogs have developed into calling cards and brochures, blanketing the internet with a confetti of company and personal teasers. Because – as a result of the information boom – we no longer have time to read long articles that cover subjects in depth, instead, we spend hours reading short, snappy blogs that offer frustratingly little value. To get the real meat, you have to sign up and, even then, you fear another email onslaught driven by autoresponders with endless asinine content written by socially-challenged crackpots.
Maybe the logical answer to these problems is to find ways to empower SMEs to get the information they need. So here’s an idea. It represents a small contribution to help SMEs deal with the deluge and find profitable nuggets in the social media madness.
Use this hashtag on Twitter every time you find something on the web that demonstrably adds to the bottom line of your SME that is also replicable by a broad range of other SMEs. Only post tried and tested examples, links, successes, inspirations and tips.
The best and most frequently tweeted suggestions will be included in a downloadable (pdf) ebook, called #socialprofit, where they are categorized by SME business benefit. The book will evolve dynamically, so you’ll be able to keep up by periodically downloading new editions. It’ll never get so big that it becomes unmanageable. It will always be a quick read and a solid reference/resource. And it’s free. You pay for it with a tweet or a Facebook ‘like’ – so your friends and followers can benefit from it as well.
The book will have this Twitter identity, and will be curated by a small number of SME-oriented social media experts. Two people are developing the first edition now, and I am talking to another two. If you know of someone who might like to contribute to curating the book and respond to relevant tweets on this address, please let me know.
Also, if anyone can suggest a streamlined production system, I’d like to find a pain-free way to do this.
Good idea? Tell me what you think.