Can You Build a Business Today Without Social

Marketing Podcast with Jeff Korhan


photo credit: mdmarkus66 via photopin cc

See, I still get asked that kind of question pretty much every day. “You know, that social media stuff is important, just no one in my industry is using it.”

I stopped being geeked up about social media some years ago, but that’s because about then I realized social media had firmly become a behavior instead of a tool or a tactic.

It’s no longer what you do, it’s part of how you do everything.

I for one don’t think you have to concede that social media is hip and important and all that, but you can’t really build a business today without employing it.

Let me restate that not for emphasis, but for clarity.

A great deal of what goes on in social media is silly, pointless and wasteful and yet you can’t survive without it. Oh I guess you can survive, but is that really the point?

Your customers need you to use social media to serve them, figure out how to deliver what they need and communicate in real time.

Your employees need you to use social media to connect them, keep them informed and allow them to participate in building the brand.

Search engines need you to use social media to demonstrate authority, network, share and  attract links so they can figure out where and how to index your content.

This week I visited with Jeff Korhan, author of Built In Social about how social media use has evolved to the point where it’s not something you consider as part of your marketing or business plan it’s something that just is – it’s like the oil in the engine – you must add it in, the only consideration is the weight and the maker.

When you look at social media as a tool to do what you’re already doing, better, faster and in a way that benefits the customer, I think it’s pretty clear how important it is in the process of building a business.

Once you can move past the hype, move past the resistance and move past the tool of the week thinking, you can begin to bake social media behavior into your marketing and business building in ways that simply serve the customer. Do that and you’ll come to realize you cannot live without social.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Alfred Poor

    Great article, and great interview! I was a social media skeptic for years, but have become a converted zealot. There are so many reasons why we need to understand how to use social media to reach our prospects and customers in a digital world. It’s still the same old principle of connecting with people and engaging them in conversation, but the tools and opportunities have changed. Thanks for sharing this great information.

    • Jeff Korhan

      Thanks Alfred. Haven’t had a chance to listen to it myself, but I will when I drove home to Chicago from Green Bay this evening. It really is much the same as we’ve always done business. This is why I like to say what got you here WILL get you there, … IF one learns to adapt their business growth practices to a digital world. Thanks for your comment!

  • Marie

    The wildly successful social media examples are endless. Yet I completely disagree with this article. To the contrary, there are many, many examples of very successful businesses who aren’t in social media, some don’t even have a website (shocking, I know.) Many small business owners who, with a lot of time and effort, have given up on their social media after two or three years based on zero results; the ROI just wasn’t there and they were doing all the “right” things (none of that overly self-promotion stuff, joining the “conversation,” etc., etc.”) The formula for success is different for everyone. Frankly, anyone who says I “SHOULD” do something drives me in the exact opposite direction.

    • ducttape

      Hey Marie – thanks so much for sharing this point of view as it allows me to expand on a few things.

      Of course you can build a business today without social media – I see lots of people doing it.

      The key distinctions in this post surround the definition of the terms successful and social.

      To me successful has a great deal to do with the ability to achieve enough growth to create an asset over a job while working less and making more.

      The term social doesn’t have to be limited to a tool or network either. One of the key points I offer is that social is a behavior – a referral, the tool I’m guessing those non social businesses you refer to rely on, is a social act that can be sped up and amplified by smartly employing social media tools.

      Of course I’m only drawing from the tens of thousands of small businesses I’ve been able to work with over the years but like it or not some portion of every market can only be engaged or engaged deeply by integrating social behavior with other forms of marketing.

      I know a guy that sharpens pencils for a living – probably the most low tech niche on the planet and the only way to be his customer is through social.

      I also get my shoes shined at a little very successful shop with no online presence at all and if you gave me a couple months I could double their business using nothing but online practices – note I didn’t say social networks.

      • O C

        Hi John. While I understand the distinction (and way out) you are using by saying “referrals are a social act”, basically you are saying businesses cannot live without doing what they have done for years: Delivering great products and services at the right price and channels — do this, and customers will refer you. You are calling that social. Fine.

        But when you say, “Your customers need you to use SOCIAL MEDIA to serve them.” and “Your employees need you to use SOCIAL MEDIA to connect them.” Here you clearly use the term “social media.” This is where I believe your point falls apart a bit. There are plenty of small businesses where customers and employees do not NEED the business to use social media. The auto repair shop, the bankruptcy attorney, the plumber. COULD they use social media effectively, possibly–perhaps at a cost (time and money) that is likely too high to get positive ROI. SHOULD they? In many cases, not unless it’s thrown in as part of an overall online marketing package. Do customers and employees NEED them to? No. Do you NEED that shoe shine shop to connect with you on Facebook?

        • Jeff Korhan

          Hi OC – It is true that no business needs to be using social media. However, there is no denying that we are living in a digital world and those businesses that are adapting their traditional practices to it will have an advantage.

          The social media channels are buzzing with valuable commentary about what consumers need and want? So, does a business need to know this?

          I think so.

          Small businesses can profit from social media by simply using it to understand how to better serve their customers. Just listening, that’s all.

          Every business needs to get to know their customers better. The best way is face-to-face, but that opportunity may not happen for the plumber or auto shop if the customer gets introduced to other businesses that are skillfully using the social media channels to connect with and develop new relationships with them between transactions with less engaged businesses.

          • O C

            Sort of a circular argument. You say businesses don’t need to use social media, then say they can listen, but then say they can’t listen if competitors are beating them by using social media to get new customers.

            The number of plumbers who are super successful and who also spend lots of their time, hands-on with Hootsuite “skillfully using social media” to bring in a large percentage of their new business could be counted on one hand. Yes, those who can afford it may hire an agency to run it (along with other marketing programs) and many do a good job (though still not where most new customers come in most cases). Yes, there may be a younger generation “one truck chuck” plumber who has time on his/her hands to spend on social media. But its going to be rare for a reason: it is a colossal waste of time for most, notwithstanding what the “social media consultants” might tell him/her.

            It’s sort of like telling a social media consultant that you could just get more sales if you would only go out and spend a few hours fixing broken pipes for customers. =)