Can Social Media Hurt The Success Of Young Entrepreneurs?

Published by 16 Comments

I’m always amazed that interns at my company can do so much with the web. I’m even more amazed at the limitations social media has put on young aspiring entrepreneurs and how it hinders the necessary fundamentals to start a business.

If you want to open a B2C (Business to Consumer) company, than yes, social media helps. In B2C, social media is necessary because the “C” element is all on social media. However, in B2B (Business to Business) models, social media is not needed as much.

What is the basis of my argument?

Decision makers of companies are on average much older than even I, thus they find Facebook confusing, frustrating, or consider it a kid’s game because their teenage daughter plays with it on the car ride to school.

Therefore, no real decision maker has the time to go and look up your Facebook page. If it weren’t for my writing, etc., I would not have learned social media either.

Plus, if you’re selling to another business, use of social media is looked down upon or considered to be recreation in today’s corporate culture.

As a whole, technology is specifically geared towards those who are the kids of decision makers, so they can harass their parents to buy the product, hence the B2C appeal.

Facebook ads are the new obnoxious Saturday morning breakfast cartoon commercials, grown up with the generation that used to pester its parents for the toys advertised during Nicktoons.

When you’re in start-up mode, I recommend that you focus on your website rather than your Twitter profile or Facebook page. The VPs and higher don’t care how cool a timeline is; they want results.

What Are The Main Hindrances Of Social Media On The Young Entrepreneur?

1. The Phone Also Makes Calls

Sales is essential to any healthy business. This means cold-calling until you get the corporate branding that leads your customers straight to you (it doesn’t work the other way around).

The lack of socialization I’ve seen from younger people due to social media is not staggering because they can still speak. The ability to persuade and sell comes from practice and most below a certain age don’t have it. Until your brand is recognized to the point where the customer is beating down your door, you need to be chasing that individual.

Yes, social media is a good tool to find them, especially in B2C, but finding them takes simply a minute. Selling them and coming across in a professional manner is a whole different story.

The only way that people gave me a chance when starting my business is that I tracked them down, cold-called them and sold them. I was able to sell them because they believed in me. The same method is so rarely used by intelligent people that young entrepreneurs have an even greater advantage over their peers than I did… if they are willing to deal with others.

2. “There” Vs. “Their” vs. “?”

Social media’s entire point is to connect people as quickly as possible and make it as seamless as possible for them to connect (the more connections = increased advertising accuracy). Therefore, you can have an hour-long conversation without writing a sentence longer than any in this article.

Short sentences in and of themselves are great. It’s the shortened words common to social media that damage young aspiring entrepreneurs’ credibility.

Writing skills are the foundation of effective marketing and those hanging out on Facebook and texting lack the ability, among other issues, to persuasively write, which is necessary to start a company.

Next time you’re on Facebook talking about how cool your business idea is, consider the following:

  • Social media has become so popular with the masses because it created an atmosphere where people can connect, express feelings and thoughts, and make friends with fragments and smiley faces, thus decreasing writing and marketing skills.
  • It’s not too late (as I was no Hemingway out of college), but the sooner you learn how to write, the sooner your business will get better.

3. Little Education, High Compulsion, Low Return On Investment

Social media is really addictive because it’s fun. I was given some cool access on Google+ and for literally a day (12 hours) played on the site until I self-imposed a ban on social media from my browser for a few days unless work related.

The programmers and marketers at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., are more intelligent than you can 99.9999% know. Essentially, it’s their job to keep you on their site. The more often you look at the pair of shoes advertised, statistically the more likely you are to buy that product.

If you like Facebook, Twitter and social media sites so much, study how they advertise and the businesses behind them; it is a great education and the research will be helpful to any entrepreneur.

4. What About Networking?

When you’re on a social media site (let’s use LinkedIn) browsing all the people who can help you with your business, you save your money buying contact packages until you can help them with a problem. Otherwise, you’re just one of the many random people who are out in cyber space selling a commodity no better than the next person’s.

I don’t recommend “networking” for anyone until they have something to bring to the table.

Hone your skills to where the prospective contacts need you before you go and ruin a bunch of contacts, as they won’t answer your duplicate InMail without a compelling reason for their own benefit.

Look at the bright side. If you’re a young entrepreneur and you take the time to learn the key fundamentals of entrepreneurship (which I consider to be sales, marketing and good old fashioned work ethic), then you can Tweet from your yacht 7 days a week about how you once read an article telling you that you could be wealthier than 99.9999% of Facebook junkies.

Ken

Image courtesy of Rosaura Ochoa

About Ken Sundheim

At age 25, Ken Sundheim started KAS Placement Recruitment and Staffing from a studio apartment in New York. With no industry experience nor contacts, Ken learned the staffing business out of a book. KAS Placement now has two offices and is currently nominated as America's Most Promising Companies in 2012 by Forbes Magazine. Ken has previously contributed to NYTimes.com, WSJ.com, USAToday.com, Forbes and many more. You can read more at kensundheim.com.

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16 Comments

  • joe

    cold calling until they lead straight to you..??and social media.? Really cold calls are still the backbone of sales.?

    • You will be surprised at the amount of VERY well known marketers friends who have gone back to cold calling and direct mail methods. The vast majority of newbies walked away from them, making it once again a very viable marketing method.

      Don’t simply do what everyone else is doing and fight for the same pool of potential customers, go where the grass is fresh – the competition is low and you help expand your potential client base.

  • Dane

    I’m surprised social media is looked down upon by these “decision makers” because it’s seen as a “kid’s game”. Strange, given the amount of people and businesses interacting on these networking sites.

  • Joe

    This is a great article, and I would love to add that even people who are searching for a job are affected negatively by their facebook page, as potential employers are going to facebook to get a hint about the potential employee’s personality.

    Also, and you can delete this if you like, but I found you blog by networking with other bloggers with similar interests. I would have been likely to bookmark your very nice blog, except that I like commentluv blogs that can help me build my own products by allowing backlinks to recent posts.

    Your policy of real name instead of keywords is a putoff also, Joe as anchor text to a Japanese Chin Puppies website isn’t helpful.

    I didn’t just want to leave without saying so, but I couldn’t find a clear way to contact you on your website either so I was stuck with writing a comment here.

    Good luck!

    • As a fellow contributor here on EJ maybe I can jump in here on behalf of Ken. Whilst you may like a certain preference, you must understand that with each site you have multiple (different) types of users. Some like you use commenting primarily for anchor text, others prefer to comment for the interaction and even networking.

      As a site owner you can choose whichever TYPE of user you wish to support, as clearly you can not keep all people happy.

      If you didn’t add a comment simply because you had to use our name, then perhaps you are not the type of user he is wanting to attract. I know many well known blogs which have the same rules. They prefer to attract user based on their quality content, and not always people who simply want useful back-links.

      You comment came across as a little disrespectful of Ken’s vast experience. Maybe I’m wrong, but that is simply the feeling it portrayed.

      PS- when I write good comments on quality blogs I almost always gain regular traffic from that comment. Your marketing should not always be about SEO, as Ken states, marketing is about good content too.

      • Ken Sundheim

        Thanks! Appreciate that.

  • BL

    As Seth says “Do the work”

  • I wanted to chime in and follow-up on what Dee has just said…

    Using highly popular blogs as a back link building tool only isn’t nearly as effective as leaving a really valuable comment that adds to the conversation.

    An extremely valuable addition to the conversation can work wonders for your online business, and it also helps to get yourself out there and opens up a bunch of new doors for yourself.

    I think Yaro’s decision to sway from allowing the keyword back link and instead allow only names is going to drastically increase the quality of material on the site, and I know when my site becomes popular enough that I’ve got 100′s of comments coming in per article I’ll definitely follow his model.

    And Ken, good article – I think one thing that hurts a lot of people with using social network as a business tool also is that they tend to waste too much time falling into the fun side of Facebook and Twitter instead of getting the business taken care of and getting off. It’s extremely easy to fall into that trap and that’s why I’ve completely avoided FB and stuck to the good ol’ fashion hard work strategy that creates the real results.

    Cheers!

    Paul

  • I’d like to be tweeting from my yacht someday. The ability to make a sale is crucial in business as well as a solid work ethic. I have encountered people who have been in the MLM business for over 20 years and they still do the lame “pushy salesman” approach which is a huge turn-off.

  • I agree with your points and would add that “warming up” the cold calls with a tool like LinkedIn is very helpful. With these types of tools you can target people who are predisposed to want to hear from you before you call. I’m sure you know this already as a recruiter, but wanted to assuage the fear of some of your readers who are fearful of the phrase “cold calling”. If it’s done properly the cold call can actually be quite warm:)
    Mark

  • Strangely, when I worked as an attorney, most of my colleagues looked down on social media (many still do). The regarded it as a place where people who were less serious minded went to play.

    However I believe that even if your business is the B2B model, you can still benefit from using social media IF your target market is there. If you are providing a service or product for small business owners or solopreneurs, social media is where you should be because it is a cheap source of marketing that such businesses make use of. The important thing is to know who your clients are and go find them where they hang out.

    I agree with Ken though that you really should forget about networking if you are not bringing anything to the table. Why should I do business with you if you do not have anything I want? It is simple common sense, or maybe just business sense.

    This was a good post. Thank you for writing it.

    • Ken Sundheim

      Thanks for the response!!

  • I think the most important part is to mix different count of marketing. If you do 100% social media, you will definitely will have a hard time getting customers. It is an opportunity everyone should use, but the specter should be much wider, than only one or true marketing tools.

    It should be a balanced mix, but I understand many get carried away by social media. I had these moments myself. Because it costs time to update it every day, and it is a waste of time if you do not target your potential buyers, but just fire away hoping someone will pick up your brand, service or product.

  • Hi Ken,
    Some extremely valid points I must say, I look at facebook or any other social media site the same way as a learning experience. A lot of these social media site can teach you how to target clients or advertise.

    As well as you can get a valid lesson on how to promote, advertise and copy write from the advertisement. In all you can get free lesson in marketing, advertising, and people management.

    I myself often make silly mistake on facebook with misspelling but I am learning to fix it and become a better writer (I hope). I believe marketing is the key to any business and learning how to communicate will not only save you time but increase your bank balance as well.

    Thanks for the inspiring post and I look forward to putting them into action especially learning how to write and communicate more.

    Thanks akil

  • Hi,

    I absolutely agree with you when you say that older generations are reluctant when it comes to social networking sites. I used to be that way too. It took me a while to recognize how much I can benefit from those things.

  • This is exactly what I am saying to entrepreneurs and at the same time I encourage them to use Social media in B2B exactly for those same reasons describe here.

    You don’t make profit via B2B with social media, no more explanation needed, but you can use B2B for other reasons.
    1. It is a fun way to understand new ideas to broadcast information. It opens your mind and maybe one day you will find a great way
    2. You keep on be related to your products and services and any moment

    3. You can help your B2B customers with information. It is an easy cost effective way to broadcast your message.

    I have b2b platform for the tourist industry and we see that Fan Pages and Twitter etc is not really working for them (Even it is b2c). The reason is simple Travellers or not Locals (http://yabbedoo.com/Travellers-Are-Not-locals.aspx) , as well our Social Media didn’t bring in Premium members for us neither. Phone calls, conferences, the old school is doing very well :)

    I will re post this article several time!

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