How many of you came from a town that looks like this? I know I did. I grew up in St. Charles, MO and still enjoy walking down the cobblestones on Main Street for the quaint and welcoming feel I get. That picturesque scene of homespun candles and mom ‘n’ pop soda shops still exist in 2013, but with a twist. If you walk up to the windows you see things like “Wi-Fi Available” and “Like Us on Facebook”. What the hell happened?
The evolution of social media made adaptive business owners in Small Town USA an actual spot on the map. Little big town really exists (they are a great band too).
Gary Vaynerchuk in his book “The Thank You Economy” reminds, “Social media has transformed our world into one great big small town, dominated, as all vibrant towns used to be, by the strength of relationships, the currency of caring and the power of word-of-mouth.” THIS is why social media is important to every facet of business in America today. That’s not a reminder, it’s a promise.
You don’t do something right? You’re going to get ‘told on’ by your customers and it won’t be just to the few people in Small Town USA. It will be to them PLUS all their friends on Facebook (average user has over 100 friends), all their followers on Twitter (average user has over 72 followers) and the negative conversation can ensue for hours, days and weeks. (Just ask the owners of Amy’s Baking Company Bakery in Scottsdale, AZ – yeesh.)
What about when you do something right though? That activity gets buzz too, sometimes bigger than can be expected. Sarah Hoidahl from Henniker, NH (um – the population is 4,433 so I believe that qualifies for Small Town USA, maybe Tiny Town USA even) is a server and bartender at Ruby Tuesdays in Concord, NH (a little bigger at 42,630 – – still Small Town USA). She’s a 22-year-old single mom who paid for two women National Guard members lunch who were furloughed during the government shutdown. That YouTube video got 3.2 Million views. That’s amazing right? Do you think that Ruby Tuesdays got some traction from one nice deed that went viral on social media? You better believe it did.
Folks, this really happens – not in Hollywood, but Small Town USA. Social media has a valuable place in every business. Every business owner needs to be thinking how to use this “crazy teenager stuff” to make their business relatable, relevant and responsible to their immediate local community as well as the online community of that community. The six degrees of separation are not that spread out anymore.
It’s a small world after all and it’s getting smaller by the moment.
Sheryl Brown / @BionicSocialite