Small Businesses Warm Up to Social Media
While B-to-B marketers are leaving social media in the cold, small businesses are warming up to the channel as the holiday season moves into high gear, according to the Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey from Constant Contact.
In the six months since the Spring 2011 study, usage of social media marketing increased 8 percent to 81 percent of the small businesses surveyed. Sixty-five percent of respondents report that social media tools complement other forms of marketing they engage in, including on their website (98 percent), email campaigns (95 percent), print advertising (71 percent), online advertising (66 percent) and event marketing (55 percent).
Facebook continues to be the platform of choice for small businesses with 96 percent of respondents having a presence on the site. Meanwhile, Twitter is growing in popularity for small businesses as 76 percent of the respondents now use the site. What's more, 86 percent find Facebook an effective marketing channel, up from 82 percent six months ago. Sixty percent of those using Twitter find it effective, up from 47 percent in the spring survey, and 55 percent find LinkedIn effective, up from 47 percent in the spring survey.
Why is social media adoption on the rise for small businesses? The fact that it's relatively cheap was the most common response from respondents when asked why they've begun using the channel (83 percent), followed by its ease of use (67 percent), it's where their customers are (51 percent) and it's not time consuming (45 percent).
Engagement across social platforms is also gaining ground. Nearly 60 percent of small businesses respond to all comments on social media platforms, whether those posts are positive or negative. Those who don’t respond say they're either too busy, don’t deem it necessary or don’t know what to say.
“Just six months ago, they [small businesses] were learning the ropes and finding out what social media marketing tools were available," said Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact, in a company press release. "Now they're beginning to understand more about what social media marketing can do for them."