Is your business community listening? I ask the question in all seriousness, I’ve discovered the business community in my area is very much asleep on social networks. It’s not only sad, but alarming at the same time. The problem is more about marketing, or how they acquire customers, after all, everyone wants more customers right?

It doesn’t matter what market sector you belong to, most still use social networks no different than they use newspaper, radio & television, they sell till their blue in the face. Yelling their heads off and hoping you will pay attention, you will be convinced to come to their businesses and buy what they were yelling about.

I’m going to share a very small case study with you, and I am the case study. You see, I have made it known on social networks, primarily Twitter, that I am shopping for a new fridge, hardwood flooring, and that I am painting two rooms called the Kitchen & Family room. I’ve been sharing that home upgrade project to all who follow me, and of course the many in the town and area where I live. Something interesting happened, nothing!

I’m surprised for a few reasons, for one, I have one of the largest followings in my area. Two, I hold workshops and teach business owners and entrepreneurs how the future of business has changed, and will continue to change. I even teach them how to listen in social networks. Three, I do a considerable amount of public speaking, to Chamber of Commerce groups and the like, on the very topic, and the future of business. Four, I was certain business owners in my area were actually listening and paying attention. I was wrong.

I even went so far as to Tweet this:

I was, I am that customer, I’m doing household improvements, I’ve been sharing, I truly believed that a business in my area would have been listening, paying attention, and would have connected with me, but nothing. I am not only disappointed, but actually surprised. The fact that no one contacted me to do business, this had me wondering, how many others like me on Twitter (put your favorite social network here)had money to spend but businesses aren’t around to get it. Why do local businesses ignore this apparently untapped market?

I’m even more surprised when I see these social networks getting so much air play on TV, Radio and to a lessor extent newspaper. It’s like saying you don’t know Jesus, but everyone has heard about him. Yes, he is still ignored by the masses too : )

So how is it that a city of 150,000 have missed this opportunity, they are leaving money on the NET (table), they are not listening here on social networks. I am just one of many that I know who are doing home improvements, we’re blogging, Tweeting about our projects, and yet not one business has contacted us.

Imagine, if one person (me) has 20k to spend on paint, hardwood flooring, and appliances and you had been listening on Twitter, your business could of had that business. But what if there are a 100 people like me with that kind of money to drop on goods and services. And as I mentioned, I’m not alone, there is potentially 100k up for grabs with the few friends I know in the same position.

There’s much to be said about marketing and advertising on social networks, but more needs to be done about teaching business owners how to listen and find customers like me.

That’s it, a short case study of me, a 20k bill waiting to be collected, and no one was paying attention. Imagine that. Many of the big name social media marketers preach to listen, to grow bigger ears, and yet, like common sense, there appears to be a huge shortage. When are you going to catch up, the tidal wave is coming, don’t be looking the other way, because your business will lose people like me.

So how would you fix this listening problem in your business community?

One might consider this a business opportunity, educating business owners. Oh and by the way, it’s too late, I spent the money already.

Is your business community listening?

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About Owen Greaves

I'm a Futurist, I write, speak, and teach the open & free business model, the future of business. Create. Differentiate. Deliver.  


  1. Bob on March 5, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    Nice post Owen. It boggles my mind how out of touch businesses are with their local online communities. They are blinded by the ROI gremlin and the attitude that people will find their store or service from the overpriced Yellow page adds they buy or the unfocused pay-per-click campaigns they flog. We should get together for another Skype book chat.

    • owengreaves on March 5, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Hey young fella, the real life things seem to hit home and reach people, I am disappointed and then not surprised that no one connected with me. Imagine 20k sitting there in front of you and were blinded by traditional ways of doing things.

      I would love to do another Book chat, I just finished a great one by John Morgan called, ” Brand Against The Machine” – you would love it.

      Talk to you soon, Owen.

  2. Emilie Wapnick on March 5, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    Very interesting. I’ve often thought about this when talking to people who are targeting less tech-savvy demographics. My aunt for example is a fiction writer who writes “zoo mysteries” (an awesome niche that smooshes together two of her interests). She refuses to even try Twitter, claiming that her audience “isn’t on Twitter.” It drives me nuts, because I think she’s wrong. (But maybe she isn’t? Or maybe she is… Maybe she should test!)

    Anyway, I’m not sure about the offline business world. When I tweeted about how much I love making my own sauerkraut, I got followed by a sauerkraut company in California. Where were all the Portland companies? There are a ton of local ones!

    I’m not sure what can be done about this, except I think companies will soon learn that if they want to stay competitive, they’d better get in the game! I’m betting this will change over the next few years.

    • owengreaves on March 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM

      There will be a day when Radio, Newspaper & TV won’t work, there will be no choice but to listen online.

  3. Dave Goodier on March 5, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    Hi Owen I’m not surprise’d great story. Do you need any printing!!!

    • owengreaves on March 6, 2012 at 10:24 AM

      Thanks Dave, it speaks volumes to where business owners are spending their time.

  4. Dave Williams on March 6, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    wow that was a eye opener

  5. Leanne Laine Wine Artist on March 6, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    Ha!  Coincidentally, I had posted my grief today on Facebook about the door-to-door entrepreneur who caught me as I was leaving my house today.  Great post, Owen!  I too agree very much that radio, tv and newspapers won’t work.  As a consumer, they no longer work on me.

  6. Jamie Billingham on March 13, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    I hear ya! There is the trifecta of “use” in local social media – no use, mis-use and under-use. I swear if I see another QR code that takes me to a website that’s not at least optimized for my mobile phone.. I tell ya.
    And (shaking my head at myself) it’s not just a gross misunderstanding of the tools its more than that. A lot of local businesses, small and medium size ones anyways, are missing key strategic plans. A communication and marketing plan should be part and parcel of any business plan but often it’s neglected. 

    Businesses need to start thinking more strategically and then based on their overall communication strategy choose and wisely use tools that will help them reach their goals. And the same goes for nonprofits as well. Before they get to the strategy and the tools they need to have a clear vision and my experience is that they often don’t. 

    Every time I think about doing a workshop series relating to the above I manage to talk myself out of it because, I say to myself “All that information is already out there, online, for free”.  I somehow manage to forget that the other half of the “50% of Canadians are on Facebook” equation is that 50% are not on Facebook and if they aren’t on Facebook they are likely not on Twitter nor are they accessing any kind of online personal learning environment (PLE) or personal learning network (PLN) that would allow them to easily learn all this stuff.

    So, Thanks Owen, you have successfully talked me into this 🙂 Wanna help.. since it was your idea 🙂


    • owengreaves on March 13, 2012 at 3:44 PM

      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks for your comments. I have been holding workshops for a few years now, it would appear that the business community still doesn’t get it. I even considered holding a workshop in Chilliwack, Mission & Abbotsford…plus I am speaking in Langley at the langley Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast on March 28th. I keep putting the message out there, tell my stories here on the blog and in speaking engagements, why? Because it’s what I do, I don’t have a choice, whether they get it or not. : )

      Sure I’m all over helping put on workshops that educate and show business owners how to do this stuff.

      Talk to you soon.

      • Jamie Billingham on March 14, 2012 at 8:51 PM

        Cool! I chatted with a few local biz folks who do “get” social media and business who also know the local community really well. I have a plan roughed out and would love your feedback. Maybe coffee next week – am in the canyon for the rest of this week.


      • owengreaves on March 15, 2012 at 9:39 AM

        Good stuff, contact me next week then and we’ll set something up.