Media (communication) has been for the last 100 years one of the key factors of success for any business. The process seems to go as follows:

  1. Big businesses figure out new uses for media – because they have time and money to hire experts to see what’s coming next, and the resources to really dive into the new media effectively
  2. SMB’s don’t have the time or money to see as far ahead, since they’re too busy running their daily business
  3. SMB’s see big businesses changing to adapt, then feel compelled to compete with big business on their terms, but cannot
  4. SMB’s struggle, and sometimes fail

To prove my point:

1970’s – 1990’s Broadcast advertising

  1. Big business figured out that they could drive demand to their local stores/franchises through national advertising campaigns with high production value and massive reach (think Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?”)
  2. SMB’s tried to do their own local advertising campaigns that were expensive, innefective, and generally were not as clever to an audience used to professional media
  3. Times were tough for local burger joints

1994-2001 Web 1.0

  1. Big business figured out that, by selling on the internet and by correctly configuring their supply chain, they could sell products to people at lower costs and with greater convenience than most local stores (think Amazon.com, Outpost.com, DELL, BestBuy etc)
  2. SMB’s tried to move to online selling and to competing on cost
  3. Times were tough for local book, computer and electronics stores

2007-present Web 2.0

  1. Big business has looked ahead and realized that a) customers are increasingly connecting with people and businesses through social media, b) employees are increasingly using social media inside and outside of their jobs and c) with web 2.0 and supply chain improvements, even a big business can plop a small local version (Starbucks, Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets, Dunkin Donuts) of a store in a local neighborhood and create community and customer loyalty (MyStarbucksIdea.com, Dunkin Donuts YouTube Channel, Dunkin Brands Serving Heroes Site, etc). They are just now trying to figure out how to use this new medium for their advantage.
  2. SMB’s will have to adapt and compete again (ending to be determined)

What do you think will happen this time around? Will SMB’s be able to jump out ahead of big business?

As a way of exploring the social media space, please feel free to jump in and brainstorm some creative uses of social media at our “think-up” to finish the sentence: “The craziest/wackiest BUSINESS use of social media I can think of is..” Share your response here.

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