It’s becoming increasingly difficult to own and operate a small business these days. The first punishing blow to small business has been the erosion of their custom base ushered in by the internet. If you’re a small business owner, your potential customers and your current customers have access to information about the products and services you provide. This access to knowledge has caused a seismic shift over the past decade. While it’s been great for the consumer, the small business owner has seen the traditional methods of customer acquisition and retention affected. As a small business owner you must to deal with this reality and adjust accordingly. Every small business needs to understand where their potential and current customers are spending most of their time, on Google and other search engines.

Social Media Shift

Over the past couple years, another shift has occurred. The consumer is now spending MORE time on social media sites like Facebook. Just like you needed a solid internet marketing strategy, you need a solid social media strategy. What’s so challenging about these shifts is the FACT that you don’t have a choice, you must adjust what you’re doing or you’ll end up with less new business opportunities and a shrinking customer base.

Potential Customer Loss

The biggest challenge with the onset of social media is the potential loss of customers. Let’s take a look at the number of Facebook users in the US at the end of 2010, about 138 million.

According to US census population clock there are about 310 million people in the US.

That means about 44% of your customer base is using Facebook.

We already know your customers are going to Google and searching for a better price or a competing service. The reason social media is so powerful, is that your customer’s friends are recommending competing services via wall posts or tweets. If you’re not in the mix, you’ll lose them. I haven’t even mentioned the fact that your customers are being bombarded daily with competitor’s paid search ads, email, TV and radio campaigns.

So what does a small business do? Start educating yourself now. Think about all the ways your current customers and prospects are being marketed to. Examine your own strategy for customer acquisition and retention.