Have You Seen Grandpa on Facebook?

A common misconception I see every day with many of our small business clients is the notion that social media and social networking is a frivolous online waste of time that’s just for the younger generation.

If you operate a small or local business, don’t make the mistake of dismissing social media this easily. In all fairness, it’s natural to brush off something we don’t understand. So let’s shed a little light on the matter …

We’re social creatures by nature. By and large, we like to congregate in groups and we tend to trust the notion that there’s safety in numbers. Social media is simply a manifestation of these basic human behaviors and has been transforming the Internet into a modern day medium that allows us to assert our social nature online.

The social media underpinnings smack of all that group behavior stuff we learned about back in college psychology 101. Whether we’re talking about social bookmarking, social networking, microblogging as in Twitter, photo and video sharing sites, etc., we’re essentially looking for some form of social proof or reassurance.

When we have a problem to solve, nothing is more fundamental than a referral. If we need to find a good plumber, we seek a recommendation from a trusted party. And how often do you turn to your friends for feedback on the latest restaurant? Or perhaps before you decide to head out to the latest movie, are you at all influenced by a recent raving endorsement from someone at work?

Most of us can certainly identify with the idea of group endorsement and safety in numbers. Have you ever walked into a new restaurant only to find the place is completely empty, not a table is occupied? Don’t you immediately feel awkward and filled with uncertainty, that coming into the place was probably a mistake? Especially if there’s another eatery a few doors down with a line of people out the door waiting for a table.

Without even giving the new restaurant a chance, you’re quickly convinced that you haven’t just stumbled into the next great restaurant discovery, and you look for a way to inconspicuously slither back out the door. Or maybe you feel sorry for the proprietor looking at you forlornly with an expression that seems to say “please don’t walk out on me like the last 10 people did”. Feeling guilty, you stay and give the place a try, but that’s another form of psychology at play. So tell me, how was the food?

Small business owners understand the power of a customer referral. In some cases, it’s not unusual for an established local business to depend on referral and word-of-mouth marketing as their primary source of new business.

We expect a company to promote their own goodness and superior capabilities, but we usually trust a testimonial from a satisfied customer a bit more. And five positive testimonials makes us feel better than just one. There’s that safety in numbers again.

These are all examples of our social nature and how we depend on social proof to assist us in our daily decisions.

In the online realm, the hundreds of social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Digg, Yelp, simply provide the electronic means for each of us to reach out to others and interact in an already common and familiar social manner.

As a small or local business owner, if you’re not leveraging social media in your marketing efforts, it’s time to get moving. The numbers are compelling, and if for some reason you believe this is just another passing Internet fad, you’ll only be left behind. And this may be detrimental to your business.

If you’re worried that the demographics don’t line up for your local business, think again. It’s no longer just the 20 something crowd hanging out on Facebook and exchanging messages on Twitter. Your target market hangs out there too. You just need to learn how to find them, and help them find you.

Yes, the evidence is undeniable. Grandpa can now be found on Facebook!

According to a current survey conducted by AARP, more than 25 percent of Americans 50 years and up stay connected using social media sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. When polled, almost half of older adults between the ages of 60 and 65 proclaim they are much more Internet savvy today.

At NewCorridor, social media marketing is a critical component of our Main Street Marketing Power strategy. We integrate an effective social marketing campaign for our local business clients and eliminate the guesswork and confusion. Get in touch, we’d like to help you get the right pieces working together.


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