No Social Media!? This Super Successful Company Opts Out
In the process to compile and recognize the Build 100, Inc.'s list of America's premiere sustained-growth firms, I was asked to compile the social media profiles of each company on the list.
No problem, I said. Easy peasy.
And it was. Except for one company. That company, Georgia-based frozen food packaging company Signature Foods, has more than 200 employees and did more than $65 million in revenue in 2012. It has added employees year after year throughout a down economy.
It is a bonafide midmarket company...and for the life of me, I could not find its Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn account.
That's because Signature, which has also been honored on the Inc. 5000, doesn't have any such accounts.
That's right. A successful company plainly does not use social media--an asset so broadly considered a linchpin of 21st century business success. This is made all the more surprising in considering that Signature is a relatively young company, founded in 2003.
Bucking the Trend
I reached out to the company to ask what gives. Co-founder Chuck McAtee confirmed that I hadn't just misfired on Google; the company has decided to forego social media, at least for now.
"Social media is not a cost-free endeavor," McAtee says. "To do it and employ it requires hiring people and building a bigger infrastructure" that he and business partner Tom Southworth have purposely avoided buidling.
Not only that, he says, but he just can't imagine any way that the company could tie a social media presence to the bottom line.
McAtee says things might be different in a different industry. He points to other members of the Build 100 and points out that most are in tech and services fields--fields that benefit more from a digital footprint, whether they're B2B or B2C.
But Signature does its business in in the supply chain of the food services industry, with most of its customers being wholesalers. Its primary customers are wholesalers, and it's unlikely those customers would seek them out on Facebook or Twitter in the first place.
Even in an era where order placements are automated, he says, "the food industry is still inherently face-to-face."
Personal vs. Business
That's not to say McAtee doesn't see the benefits of social media on some levels. He has a LinkedIn profile that he says has been useful as a networking and industry news tool. But McAtee says there's a big distinction between personal and business uses for social media.
The company is not without any digital presence. Its website, he says, helps open the door to new customers.
McAtee says that if the company saw compelling evidence that a social media strategy would have a positive bottom-line effect, or if it eventually explores more direct-to-consumer approaches, it would probably employ one.
But for now, the benefit of social meda just isn't clear--not when Signature is growing so much without it.