Social media is the tool your small/medium business needs to leave the rest of the puppies behind on the porch and go run with the big dogs.

Yesterday, we read a post at ZDNet that we enjoyed and agree with – “Small-business social media adoption lags, and that’s a shame“.

Summary: if at least one-quarter of your customer prospects are spending their time using social media or social networks, SMBs owe it to themselves to be experimenting with these platforms.

The article links a Hiscox survey that found 47% of SMB respondents don’t use social media at all, and only 12% describe it as “a must”.

We think social media marketing is one area where small-to-medium businesses can learn a trick or two from big-to-huge businesses… just like puppies learning from big dogs.

Take IBM for example. Not exactly a Mom & Pop shop. Yet Small Business Trends interviewed Ed Abrams, a VP of Marketing, about how they utilize social media and what they’ve learned.

It’s no longer acceptable to push messages out in the marketplace. The power in the communication chain has shifted from the marketer to that of the end user, the audience. They have control of the conversation.

See that? It doesn’t matter how big they are. (And big is an understatement.) They have learned that they are no more in control of the conversation than you are. It’s the audience – the customers – in charge.

So if even a mega-giant corporation like IBM can’t steer the message, what advantages does social media offer? Per Abrams, the ability to receive real-time feedback is one of the biggest advantages of their efforts. And as we pointed out yesterday, social media users are more likely than others to give their opinions… it’s up to you to listen and react, as IBM does.

Another good example is Pinkberry, the frozen yogurt company. While they’re no IBM (who is, but IBM?), they are an international company that has used social media to great advantage. In an interesting interview with Business Insider, Pamela Naumes, Director of Digital, gave some insight into their social media campaign.

I think that marketers have finally learned that we are not in control–the customer is in control, as they should be. It’s knowing that it’s okay that every day will be a different day and it’s about the flexibility and the ability to really just go with what you see, but to be responsive too.

Hmmmm… we’re noticing a theme.

Last, but not least, Dell. Again, not exactly the corner store. And Dell famously transformed their customer service from “Dell Hell” to one of the best through social media engagement. Rishi Dave, an executive director of online marketing was recently interviewed for ClickZ. His thoughts?

The business impact of social media is real and tangible, and translates into a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Social media gives you unprecedented opportunities to build communities and establish loyalty among these people. At the most basic level, the combination of engagement, empathy, and creativity gives you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change your business from the inside out.

In case you still think the social media lessons learned by big business don’t apply to your small-to-medium business, check out this piece by Lisa Barone in Small Business Trends (a publication that surely does apply to you) – “6 Ways Your Small Business Can Steal Customers From Big Brands“.

So you’re small? So what? That’s no excuse for not taking the time to develop a trusted and visible brand of your own. By incorporating blogging, Twitter, Facebook, forums and more into your marketing mix, you can work to create consistent content around your brand to make sure you’re visible and in front of your audience at all times. Who says rockin’ brands are only for the big boys?

Big boys… big dogs… You get the point.

Now get off the porch!