Do online search for “Has Bean Steve” and “Has Bean Steve” appears on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Vimeo, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and other blogs, forums and other social networking sites. “Has Bean Steve” is Stephen Leighton, a former prison guard turned coffee connoisseur, who launched “Has Bean Coffee”, a UK-based Internet coffee-roasting business with worldwide following thanks to his use of social media to leverage his products and interact with his customers around the world.
Stephen Leighton runs a small business and has been using web 2.0 especially social networking sites to sell his products and services on the Internet. Thomas Gonsorcik, strategy director at the social media consulting firm, Interaction London said “Small businesses are very fast to adopt new technology. They are constantly innovating what they sell or what they offer and having this first-hand relationship with the audience lets them know how their products are perceived and how they can make them more effective.94 However building genuine online relationships that are also good for bottom lines is sometimes not so easy. A0Thomas Gonsorcik said “There is a lot of trial and error, but at the end of the day, you need to be able to answer the question, ‘What does this do for my business?’”
It may be known that even with shrinking advertising budgets due to the recession and a growing number of the unemployed branching out on their own to launch start-ups, use of social media by enterprises is not yet widespread. Over 75% of small business owners in the US say they found websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn not useful for generating business leads or expanding business. Maria Veltre, executive vice president of Citibank’s Small Business segment said “They are continuing to rely on what has worked for them, and I think social networking and social media is a bit of an experiment for some, you need to have a time commitment, to be fresh and to be active. I am not sure all of the small businesses that may find it beneficial have figured out how to do that right now.”
Stephen Leighton, spends up to 17 hours a day, seven days a week, updating his coffee video blog, talking to audiences on Twitter and responding to every email he receives. It can be difficult for firms to gauge the effectiveness of their participation on forums like Twitter and Facebook. Engaging audiences in a more conversational, even personal, manner can be hard for firms accustomed to reaching out to customers via traditional advertising campaigns or marketing strategies.
On the other hand Lisa Rodwell, vice president of sales and marketing of MOO.com, a UK-based company that sells business cards generated from images uploaded on Flickr.com, a photo-sharing Web site said “I don’t know whether you can take someone who has worked 40 years in classic advertising and give them the controls of a Twitter account. All of the people who work here were already users of these networks. We all have lived our lives on the Internet, so it was not a big jump for us to use these networks professionally.” MOO found in 2006, has sold hundreds of thousands of cards to customers in more than 150 countries. The company attributes its growth largely to its activities on social networking sites. As such with more businesses are forced to make that jump, having a Twitter and Facebook account for companies will soon be A0more, important than owning a website.