An at-a-glance breakdown of where is social media heading for SMBs compared to last year.
Only about one year ago, respondents to a Hiscox study of small business leaders found that only 12% “described social media promotion as a must and nearly 50% weren’t using social media at all.” (MediaPost) Oh, how times change, at least according to the latest data from a newly released research study by Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing. Among its findings: 77% of small and medium businesses (SMBs) indicate social media accounts for 25% or more of their total marketing efforts. Given these and other findings, I thought it would be interesting to compare similar research from last year to this year and see where we seem to stand.
SMBs & Social Media in 2011
Of those who responded to last year’s survey who did use social media, the top goals for doing so were:
- Build brand awareness (27%)
- Generate sales (22%)
- Promote new offers, promotions (11%)
- Customer service (10%)
- Research (10%)
- Improve search engine rankings (5%)
For doing so, these respondents found the most effective growth channels to be:
- Facebook page (28%)
- LinkedIn company page or group (18%)
- Company blog (8%)
- YouTube (6%)
Back in 2011, according to study analysis by MarketingProfs, “19% of small businesses with 10-49 employees said social media is a must (and they use it all the time), compared with the just 10% of those with 50-249 employees (the biggest social media adopters in the survey).”
Early 2012 Predictions
In December 2011, the co-author of this year’s Vocus/Duct Tape Marketing study, John Jantsch, published his 2012 predictions for small business. Among those predictions:
- Social networks evolve into markets
- Content becomes the strategy to reach conversion
- Customer service goes community (see my past column on this topic, too)
By March 2012, the numbers of small businesses using social media had already grown. Citbank and Borrell Associates issued research results with similar findings.
As reported in Search Engine Land, the Borrell Associates study found 60 – 64% of SMBs had at least some social media presence and that social media advertising might surpass paid search advertising in 2012. Borrell also found that SMBs measure social media success or ROI according to “new customers” as the key metric; growing fans/followers was the second most important metric.
The Latest Research
A May 2012 study by Constant Contact found that social media is the fourth most effective marketing activity for their organization, with Facebook the network still coming out on top. And yet social media is the number one marketing activity SMBs need help with.
The latest research by Vocus/Duct Tape Marketing, while reinforcing many of the trends already uncovered in 2012, revealed deeper findings about SMBs and social media. For example,
- Value: 58% of respondents said that social media was somewhat helpful to their organization but that it’s hard work — you get out of it what you put into it.
- Size matters: 40% of SMBs prefer a smaller but highly engaged audience; 27% would prefer a huge following with little engagement. Also, the larger the organization, the greater the role of social media in their marketing mix. (Social media now represents about one-third or greater of an organization’s marketing activities, according to this study)
- Cost matters: The perception that social media is “free”(((http://www.inc.com/hollis-thomases/social-media-actual-cost.html))) is the most prominent barrier to SMBs use of social media.
- Use: Facebook still garners top honors with 73% of SMB usage, but the study claims that just 7% plan to use it in the future, migrating instead to Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.
- SMBs use social media differently and with different expectations depending on their sector (B2B vs. B2C vs. B2G). Most use it first to share company news.
- Tools & Teams: On average, SMBs use three different software tools to manage social media and spend $845 per month doing so. To execute social media, most SMBs just add to the plate of an existing marketing person/team.
The Vocus/Duct Tape Marketing study concludes that 84% of SMBs plan to increase their spend on social media mainly because 78% said social media “has helped a great deal.”
In addition to investing more in social media, future plans for SMBs include using more social media sites, sharing more, engaging more, hiring more help and spending more time on and in social media.
Do your social media plans align or differ with this study’s findings? I encourage you to share your thoughts by commenting below.Comments(1)
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