The truth about small-business blogs

Popular wisdom says that every small-business owner must have a blog and a social media presence -- but popular wisdom is bunk

Dear Bob ...

I recently started a small consulting business. I've taken care of the basics, like getting my own domain, setting up a Web site, getting insurance, and so on, and I've started the selling process.

[ Also on InfoWorld: If you're wondering how to fill out your online presence, check out Bob's posts "To blog or not to blog: A small-business perspective" and "Making a business case for social media" | Get sage advice on IT careers and management from Bob Lewis in InfoWorld's Advice Line newsletter. ]

Friends tell me -- and I read all the time -- that I should set up a blog, be active on LinkedIn and Facebook, and maybe start tweeting too.

I'd rather avoid all this if I can. So far as blogging is concerned, I don't have all that much to say, and I don't think a stale blog is better than none at all. As for social media, I just don't think it's the best use of my time.

What do you think?

- The Unblogger

Dear Unblogger ...

I certainly agree that if you don't have much to say, you shouldn't start up a blog to say it in. What I'd suggest here is that you carry around a small spiral notebook. If an idea occurs to you that would be the basis for a blog entry, jot it down. If and when you have 50 ideas on your list, you can go ahead and start blogging if you decide your business would gain value from the exercise.

So far as social media are concerned, there's no have-to about it. Either they'll generate leads for you or they won't. If they will, you should establish a presence. If they won't, you shouldn't. That depends entirely on whether you think (1) potential customers spend time there and (2) you can use LinkedIn or Facebook to find them and start a conversation.

Whatever the subject, when you're told you "should" do something the test is always the same: Form follows function. If the "should" is a good way to accomplish something you need to accomplish, then you really should do it.

If not, file it with all of the other ideas that are useful for someone else, but not for you.

- Bob

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