Social media is relatively new to our culture.  Go back 15 years and your vocabulary didn’t even have words for what we now use on a daily basis.  You never heard anyone talking about tweeting, companies didn’t ask you to find them on Face book and if you needed to find a business you grabbed the Yellow pages.

Being Googled meant nothing to anyone.

It feels like it all happened in a blink of an eye.  The impact on our lives has been dramatic.  From personal relationships to how we determine trust has morphed based on the available information we have access to online.

The change in our social lives has defiantly altered everything but I want to talk about how social media has changed business in this information sharing age.

In the “old days” if you wanted to go into business for yourself you would take your idea, find a physical location, spend the time and money to stock your shelves with products, hire employees and get your advertising dollars flowing to let the community know you are open for business.

You knew that you were ready to invite customers through the doors by standing back and viewing your shop.  A quick mental checklist was done and when you were happy that your business had the right look and feel you would unlock the doors and hope people liked what you had to offer.

Your sales staff would be the only source of detailed information about your product and you spent a good penny on color brochures to further bring home the value that your product would bring to the customers lives.  The hurdle was lower to the ground, either they believed you and purchased your widgets or they didn’t, all based on your one on one interaction.

One area you didn’t have to really worry about was if another business that sold the same product as you would open up right next door.  Certainly you never gave it a second thought that you would drive to your location to find 100 or 1000 stores that popped up overnight, all claiming THEY had a better product than you.

Yes the emergence of the World Wide Web has been a struggle for a solid business owner.  No, you don’t have 1000 identical businesses located in your same shopping complex; you have several thousand and most don’t even live and support your community.

Customers no longer trust your word on the products you offer.

They have more information sources than you can shake a stick at to determine how and if your product is what they need or want to spend their hard earned cash on.

Going back to the old days, when a customer was unhappy with your service or product you kept that conflict to a small area, a disgruntled customer may write you a letter but your overall sales were not impacted.

Fast forward to the social media arena and it becomes an all new game.  True or not, anyone can make claims that your business has been less than acceptable and more over that you should not be the choice for others needing your products.

This new consumer power has been an interesting new glitch in operating a solid business these days.

Consumers learn quickly these days.  Using the power they perceive they own, consumers have taken to sticking it to the big guys, using real or made up complaints as fuel to threaten owners with bad press if the customer is not given their way, a product or even a full refund for a product that they will not be sending back.

The credit card processing and pay pal type services have had to employ whole departments to deal with disputes and charge backs.  As a business owner you stand little chance of winning a dispute with a customer that claims your product didn’t arrive or arrived in bad condition.

The high cost of pursuing action against this type of customer typically outweighs the loss you took as well as the geographic location of customers.  Few are in the same city or state and going to court is expensive.
Customers that have gotten away with this new crime gives them the courage to not only continue this action but to share their success with others via “Social Media”, thus creating yet another consumer eager to try out this new way of shopping.

Yes the Social Media arena has changed how business is done. 

As a business owner this can be very overwhelming, bringing the need to know and understand factors that impact their bottom line but not knowing where to turn the get the real information on just how to do what needs to be done.

So let’s move on from the doom and gloom and talk about the amazing benefits that this new era can bring for a business.

In the “old days” your business was pretty much limited to the surrounding area, customers that lived in a close proximity to your store.  You overall success was dependant on the ability to open new stores and this was costly to say the least.

Now your business can have loyal customers that live across the nation or the planet.  This is exciting for a business owner.  With this new era of shipping verses cash and delivery of your product, you can sell more and take advantage of the cost savings that comes with not having to carry a large amount of inventory that may or may not sell well.

But wait!

As much as you now can be as big as you want and in as many cities as you’d like, you get smacked in the face with the fact that your new potential customers may not be ever introduced to your product or service because there is a new traffic director in play and they get to decide for your customers get to see your offer.

That’s not fair!

You have the best product and customer service, you’ve been around for generations and you deserve to be on the “front page of the yellow pages”.

Not only do you have to convince your customers that your business is the best choice to spend their money but you have to convince some traffic director?  On top of that you have to compete with tens of thousands of other businesses that claim they are better than you?

Now what?
Now we have to step back and really take a look at operating a business in this age.  We all loved the benefits of expanding our reach but for most of us we wanted the results and didn’t want to have to go through the hassle of positioning our businesses to be on that first page of the search engines results.

Maybe we did try to get on that bus but it was full of expensive proposals, disappointing results and a long list of “to do” items that we just couldn’t afford the time or money to get checked off our list.  So now we just decided that we’ve heard it before and we are just not able to lay out that kind of cash for business that may or may not come from our efforts.

As business owners we got so tied up in our need to grow our clients that we ignored common sense and bought the promises of overnight success.

We didn’t do our research on the companies that made these promises and in many cases we fell for the “free” and easy road, knowing in our hearts that nothing free will ever be a centerpiece of our dinner table.

Sites popped up every minute that seduced that business owner with offers of “easy”, “free” websites that, even though it was never really said, it was implied that your business would skyrocket and it was all “FREE”!

We never stopped to think how we respond and explained to our potential customers the danger of going with our own competitors that was offering the same service or product for much less than we would offer that same product.  We completely ignored our own knowledge and, alas, it really wasn’t as easy or free as they promised.  We got no traffic, our sites looked like a 16 year old girl’s fantasy and our frustration level went up while our sales went down.

We seem to be okay with spending a crazy amount of time and money to get that immediate success only to find ourselves 12 months later and no closer to grabbing that gold ring.

I’m going to wrap this up now or I’ll be typing the rest of the day.

The bottom line is that we live in a new world where business is done the new way and that can be confusing.

To stand a chance of being found online by enough real buyers to continue our businesses we need to spend the time and money on our new store fronts, those would be our websites.  All the marketing and ad campaigns cannot help your business if your website is not created for the user experience.  If you don’t understand or take the time to understand the mentality of those visitors and how they want and need to be interacted with when they do land on your site then you are simply draining your bank accounts.

Every child knows that to build any empire on any surface you have to have a solid foundation.

You cannot or should not focus on the top floor of a business if your empire is built on bad code that will break and fail to impress those dreaded traffic directors (search engines).  The search engines are spending a great deal of time, energy and money to block all the short cuts, and websites that are lacking in substance and information.

Continue to ignore what needs to be done and the only numbers that will increase will be your blood pressure.

This article was not a sales pitch.  You really don’t have to mortgage your home to be take advantage of the tools available in this new era.  The concept that if you pay a lot you get a lot in this arena is simply not true.

Get to work right now with a web design / development company that you trust and do all the needed tasks to get your website optimized for your customers, the search engines, the browsers and the various devices that are being used to surf the net.

Spend you budgets wisely and with a great focus on your goals.  Don’t get side tracked on “get it quick” plans that will not get your business the success you need for the long haul.

You can call our offices and together we can take that all too precious time that we all seem to run short of, to really figure out what you need and how you would best be able to achieve your goals.

Keep your cash until you know it will be used to achieve your goals.

Call us today at 719 302-5029; Dot Web Solutions is located in Colorado Springs, CO.  Our project manager loves to share her knowledge and experience.   Why wait?  Your competitors just got email confirmation a purchase that should have been yours.