Industry thought leader vs. local service leader

One of the online marketing recommendations dispensed at the Google AdWords seminar I criticized in a previous post was for small business owners to blog in order to become thought leaders in their respective industries. The presenter also urged attendants to stay away from social media where he predicted they would end up having conversations with themselves.

It requires severe selection bias to think it a good idea that small-business owners should aim to become thought leaders. Writing is a time-consuming undertaking and blogging even more so. To become an industry thought leader requires not only all of that but also a lot of work to become perceived as – industry thought leader. Yes, a good deal of marketing and self promotion are required to reach that pinnacle.

There is probably no shortage of small-business owners who would like to be industry thought leaders, just like there is no shortage of people who would like to become professional basketball players or movie stars. Aiming to become one, however, is not a particularly realistic business plan.

A more mundane but also more profitable path to take is strive to become what one might call a local service leader, that one person who people in one geographic area are most likely to recommend to their friends and neighbors. Social media, in particular FaceBook – where seemingly every mom in America hang out all day long – is probably a better way to go than an ambitious, frequently updated blog that saps its writer of time and energy.

There is another reason for small-business owners to secure accounts on leading social media sites: They are likely to rank high in seach engines for searches for the business. This way a small-business owner can push review-site listings lower and hopefully out of sight for most searchers. Among the sites small business owners should get an account and put up some basic information: Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger/BlogSpot and Tumblr.