January 8, 2008
Why Are Small Businesses Still Without Web 2.0?
A recent study by Bredin Business Information Inc. found that small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have not jumped on the Web 2.0 bandwagon just yet. The BBI study found that only 14% of the 300 people surveyed believe that blogs will be very or are extremely important, while wikis, social networks and Webcasts faired slightly better. Compare this to the 49% who think e-newsletters will remain important over the next five years, and you see how little love SMBs have for “the new stuff.”
This comes as no real surprise. Although many of us small biz types do blog, wiki, and twitter, the vast majority of nontechie, traditional entrepreneur-types aren’t drinking the KOOL-AID. Given the typical “fear of change” and “lack of time” arguments, here are a few reasons why.
1) Silly Names
Blogs … Wikis … Podcast … Twitter …. Is it any surprise that many mainstream small business people can’t get with this stuff? I mean when I first heard the word blog I thought the guy I was talking to had some sort of speech impediment. And when compared to terms such as e-mail, e-newsletter, and voicemail [these terms] do sound pretty whacked out. But what did you expect when most of this stuff was named by people not old enough to drink alcohol (legally). But now, truth be told, I really do like the creativity being used. It’s a lot catchier than regular words with an “e” or “i” stuck in front.
2) Silly Kid Stuff
And with the above names, is there any surprise that mainstreamers still believe this stuff isn’t for them, but for the prepubescent set? After all, kids were the ones who made this stuff popular. They showed us how to use the Web to communicate in a lot of new ways, with a lot of new tools. But does that really have to mean people old enough to know who Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson are can’t find great uses for this stuff? If the old folks at Microsoft can shell out $240 million to those Facebook kids, it probably is safe to say Web 2.0 is definitely coming of age and is no passing fancy.
3) Old Role Models
When it comes to technology, many in the SMB world take their cues from the big companies that provide their tools. So they look to see if the big guys are using social media, social networks, blogging, and other things. Unfortunately, many big-time tech companies really don’t get Web 2.0. Some have been slow to use it themselves while others misused these tools to deliver traditional marketing messages. Web 2.0 is about conversations, exchanges, and creating an atmosphere where people can freely express their opinion. Not to deliver marketing schlock.
Putting all the excuses aside now is the time to begin understanding how to utilize Web 2.0 tools. Tech heavyweights like Intuit, Webex, HP, Microsoft, and a few others are beginning to use these tools to create great online communities for their small business customers. But don’t wait