Great points. I run workshops showing small business how to use Blogger for their websites. It gives them a free easy to update platform. It's even better now that it has the Pages feature. My site (see below) is also powered by Blogger. Couldn't agree more about the personal touch. Consumers and employees make up their own minds these days and are not dictated too by 'faceless companies'.
When I changed direction some years ago and formed the Group I am now involved in, I was given a really good piece of advise that I have stuck to every since ... I have a variety of businesses that are all money connected, but to concentrate on one at a time, merely dillutes the message, so was told, that I had to market ME - make me the forefront so that people approach me and associate me with money - so to this end, I have used social networking in its many forms for years now to promote me, Gill, or Gillie - to create association with money and to lead on from that.
So yes, for a small business, its better to give it a personality - people get people, so therefore sell people first, and the business will follow!
Let's not forget that, for many small businesses, budget is an issue. Online marketing can allow small businesses to engage with their end users without having to spend a lot of money - it just takes time.
For those who have the time to spend, there are a lot of resources available in the net to give hints and tips for making the most of social media. For those who don't, schemes such as www dot scrapyourwebsite dot com are great. However it's done, social media marketing should be engaging and a chance to converse with the end user.
The personal touch mentioned by @Gillie is a good point. You can add your personality to Facebook and Twitter by including your photo. In Twitter you can put on background even if your logo is on your profile pic. On your Facebook page you can customise the profile pic to include logo and your pic. On Twitter bio it's good to state the name of the person people are tweeting with even if the account is set up with a business name.
Good to add personal content and touches to tweets and status updates too even if it is a business account.
From experience I can honestly say at this stage conversion via social media is very poor. There are uses and it cannot be ignored but people are wrong if they think it will be the answer to a successful business.
I'm working with a client prior to launch of their online business and following launch we'll be able to get good metrics on conversion so I'll pass them on. This will be the best client example as others I work with are harder to prove...especially for walk-in business. Some benefits of social media just can't be measured easily. Eg creating engagement and conversations, preparing the ground for a business. Some people might see the content but not actually 'follow' or 'like'. They might not buy for 6 months and then by walking into a shop or pub so a direct correlation between social media activity and sales is not always possible. But as I say happy to pass on what I have for the online biz.
I think it very much depends on what the business is, what you're trying to achieve and, most importantly, where your audience are active. By understanding your audience you can identify where are the best places to engage them - be this online, via social media, or offline via print advertising or telesales.
It is all about being active on social media. The advantage of smaller organisations is that they may feel more comfortable having that more personal style which customers/followers/fans/the public can relate much better to.
Social media for any size business is no longer about marketing and forcing sales. Be patient and they will come over time. What social media is valuable for is being able to have two-way communication with customers. It has given businesses the ability to listen to what customers say about their products/services - and not just with the company itself but between customers!