What is the context of business? Is it as detached and mechanistic as people make it out to be? "It's only business." or "I'm just taking a business-like approach." or "Don't you understand that this is a business decision?" Are phrases people use to depersonalize responses and remove them from the personal context to the business context.
Many small businesses are defined by the personality of the owner. In Seattle, Salumi is defined by Armando Batali chatting people up in the dining area. When people speak of Salumi, they speak of the wonderful meats and Armando in the same sentence.
So anything you do with your business should reflect your personality and that of your business. People don't make their buying decisions based on cold facts, they base it on fact + impressions. If Armando's business is pushing his personal commitments to both quality food and human interaction, people are more likely to pay for his cured meats.
If your social media presence does not communicate your company's personality, it is merely an empty shell.
Familiarity, for small businesses, is vital. When we call Salumi for meats, they know us. They sell us strange amounts they usually try to avoid and know exactly how we like it cut.
Familiarity now reaches beyond the brick and mortar. Other restaurants we frequent, like Szmania and Palisade will email us regularly with new menu items and special offers for being familiar to them.
These reciprocal relationships are rewarding for both parties. When we go to Mondello, they greet us as family. Make us feel welcome. And it is genuine.
How much extra would you pay for genuine? Nothing. But .. would you visit genuine more often? Absolutely.
You aren't going to charge a premium for familiarity - you don't buy Restaurant Plus subscriptions. But familiarity engenders repeat business. For us, Mondello is like eating at home without being at home.
Closeness. The word conveys two meanings: how near I am to you physically and how strong the bond is between us emotionally.
Your social media strategy needs both. Mondello and Szmania are both within walking distance of my house. They see me often because of my physical proximity. Restaurants and similar businesses will obtain most of their clientele based on this physical proximity.
Social closeness is vital for the reasons listed in the previous post. Small businesses need advice, peers, services, etc. on a regular basis. These are as vital to a small business as customers - yet they have traditionally been in much shorter supply.
We take this scarcity for granted.
But social networking and social media is changing that. If it takes me one week and several hundred dollars to obtain legal advice in the traditional way (find a lawyer), but only 20 minutes and zero dollars using Twitter - that is a tangible benefit.
But it is only possible with a social network that cares enough about you to respond to you. This means building relationships and that takes an investment of time.
The needs of business are the same as always, social tools only help grease the wheels a bit. Are you communicating who you are effectively? Are you rewarding your repeat clients with familiarity? Are you close to them and your peers?
If you answered no to any of these, you might want to take the afternoon off, go for a walk, and do a little thinking.