Small Business Tip Tuesday: Social Media’s Most Basic Proposition

by Ken Mueller on November 1, 2011 · 28 comments

An Olivetti rotary dial telephone, c.1940s

Image via Wikipedia

We use a lot of buzzwords to define and explain Social Media, and there is a reason for that: they work. The problem is, that over time we all talk about them, blog about them, write about them, tweet about them, and they become tired and trite and we all take them for granted. But it doesn’t mean they aren’t important anymore.

At it’s core, Social Media is about communication. That might sound rather simplistic and vague, but really, it is pretty simple.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because of an email my friend Reid Davis sent me. He sent me the following title and blurb from an article over at

 Twitter and complaints

Are the numbers really that high?

The most interesting, and troubling, thing about this is that it presumes one thing:

that the businesses in question are on Twitter.

After all, we can’t tweet at them if they aren’t there. So then we must ask, why are they there in the first place?

Your business has a phone number and an email address. You publicize them on your website, your business cards, your ads. Why? Because you want people to contact you, whether by phone or email. You have a phone, and you publish the number, because you want people to call you. And if they call you, you answer. You listen. You respond.

And you don’t just answer the phone in order to hear positive comments. You might also get complaints, and I’m betting you don’t hang up on them. You listen. You respond.

And yet, 71-percent of those who gripe on Twitter say they never get a response. It would be interesting to see if those same companies ever respond to positive comments.

Businesses set up Twitter accounts, their customers follow them, tweet at them, and more often than not…they get no response. None.

Why? Because we don’t “get” Twitter and Social Media. As businesses we skip over the word “social” and zoom right in on the word “media”. We think of it as just another one-way channel for delivering our message.

But remember, at its core, at its most basic level, Social Media is about being social. It’s about communication on a two-way level. You know that buzzword: engagement.

Twitter and Social Media are not the same as radio, television, newspapers, or billboards.

Think of Social Media as a telephone. I would even go as far as to say that it’s primary function is for THEM to contact YOU before it is a tool for you to contact them. Dialogue, not monologue.

When the phone in your business rings, do you answer it? And when you do, do you just start talking, or do you listen first?



I think part of the problem is that businesses, larger ones especially, are usually more concerned with numbers. Whether it’s in dollar amounts, or figures that show growth or decline, it all leads to the bottom line of profitability and the overall strength of their organization. The reason they’re not so great at socializing with consumers is because they lack the commitment to fully embrace that two-way dialogue concept that social media is built upon.

It is a shame too because these companies are truly wasting an opportunity to engage those who enjoy the products and services that they provide. With so many creative ways to communicate nowadays, it’s amazing that companies with larger financial resources don’t devote more time to interpersonally communicating with “we the people”.

Great post topic, and fantastic advice.


@kmueller62 Beautiful today! Sunny and cozy! thanks for the post...excited to follow and see what else i can learn about social networking.

KenMueller moderator

@MrBallentine Thanks for the comment, Chris. And I think the other thing is that we are so marketing and advertising oriented, that we view everything through those eyes, and often ignore the more important aspect of customer experience.


  1. […] Small Business Tip Tuesday: Social Media’s Most Basic Proposition ( […]

  2. […] Small Business Tip Tuesday: Social Media’s Most Basic Proposition ( […]

Previous post:

Next post: