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What the Amish can teach Small Business Owners about Social Media.

By: Drew Sauveur

The Amish in America, and their counterparts in Canada, the Mennonites, are a culture within a culture.  They have very distinct boundaries separating them from the majority of their surrounding culture.  However, many of us in the modern world don’t fully understand how their culture works.  So let me explain how their way of life could teach the rest of us something about Social Media.

Some Amish communities use no electricity, others do.  Power tools are acceptable in some situations, and not in others.  Few Amish people own vehicles, but many ride in vehicles when needed.  Televisions are rare, but some communities do have them.

Decisions to adopt or reject certain features of the outside culture are managed very consciously, and carefully.  Certain elders in each community can set policy, which is then handed down to the head of each family, to adopt it in their own homes if necessary.   Over time each important element of the surrounding culture comes up for careful scrutiny, and it is decided as a group whether adopting that particular element of the outside culture would benefit or hinder the community using a type of cost-benefit reasoning process.  This process is called Selective Adoption.  If it can be shown that the outside element will have a benefit to the overall community, and will not adversely affect the most important pillar of their culture, which is Religion, they adopt that element on a probationary basis.

OK so what does that have to do with Social Media?  You’re undoubtedly asking.

If we as small business owners look at the most important pillar of our life as time, and look at the outside elements that can dictate our usage of time as Social Media, we can see how important Selective Adoption can be.

It is very easy to spend an undue amount of time on social media to promote our business.  Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Redditt, (and others), are all fine platforms, and have proven to be very effective for promoting a business.  However, different platforms may not be effective for certain businesses.  For example: an HVAC company may have very good luck promoting their business on Facebook.  However, probably wouldn’t have as much luck marketing on Instagram.  Just as a restaurant may want to use Instagram showing their food, people enjoying their restaurant, etc, but doing so on Reddit, probably wouldn’t work.

So we have to use Selective Adoption much like the Amish and Mennonites do for the outside culture, to ensure that we spend our time and money on social media marketing wisely.  Investigate the platform, who else is marketing on that platform, and then try it out on a probationary term if you prefer.  If it works for you, adopt that platform because it will benefit your business.

Drew is a small business owner and resident of Durham region.  You can reach him at drew@905business.com