Good thing I wasn't lighting a match the other day when a guy told me that small business owners (businesses with <100 employees) really don't care to connect with customers through their blogs--because I certainly would have lit my hair on fire with that one!
Yes, this particular social media consultant told me that blogging fits in two categories: business blogging and personal blogging. According to the guy, business blogging, and business bloggers, really don't care about comments or connecting with customers though blogs. What they're concerned about is getting more results in search and that's all they really want their blogs to do.
I was then called a "social media purist" for advocating that even small business owners should want to connect with customers through their blogs, I just about hung up on the guy. Perhaps it was morbid curiosity that kept me on the line and listening to what he had to say....
Still, I was really shocked by this way of thinking. Sure, you can goose Google by tweaking headlines and the first 200 characters in your blog to reflect the keywords that you want associated with your business. You can even create more links for yourself by having a number of keyword and content oriented blogs connected back to your website in some way.
But if that's all you're doing, and you're not connecting with other blogs or websites or bloggers--who, believe it or not, are also potential customers-- then that alone won't get you a substantial result in Google.
See, links from others help to draw your blog into search and help to "feed" Google. You get links not just by asking people to link to you or because you bought them. You get links to your blog by linking to others, by adding them to blogrolls and the like. Google used to penalize sites for paid links anyway--and even though the jury's still out on paid links, even if Google doesn't catch you the paid link might not give good return on investment.
Still, when your money is limited, buying links probably isn't as good as a small but efficient PPC ad strategy--perhaps even a PPC campaign on Facebook. Or advertising on a local TV website or an independent hyperlocal blog.
IMHO, the aim and intention for small businesses in social media should be to connect with customers. When you think about it, social media is like old fashioned retail--where chatting with your customers & potential customers created long-lasting relationships and continued sales.
And if small businesses do not want to connect socially with their customers, perhaps they should re-think getting into social media at all. It may simply not be the place for some kinds of businesses, and that's okay. In fact, more damage can be done by neglected social media than by no social media (think: old information in search.)
Think about it....