The survey indicated small businesses are allocating more time to social media marketing to engage their targets.
Small businesses are becoming more comfortable with social media
marketing and are using it more when engaging with customers, according
to survey data from marketing specialist Constant Contact. The Fall
2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey also reports that small businesses
still rely heavily on in-person interactions and events in addition to
email marketing and Website marketing to reach their customers, while
mobile adoption remains slow.
In just six months, the survey of small businesses using online
marketing tools revealed a significant reduction in perceived barriers
to adoption of social media marketing among small business survey
participants. The survey found increased awareness that social media
marketing need not be time-consuming or difficult--clear barriers to
adoption reported in Constant Contact's Spring 2011 study.
When asked why they use social media marketing today, 83 percent
said it is low cost (up from 72 percent in the spring 2011 study), 67
percent said it is easy to use (up from 54 percent in the spring 2011
study), 51 percent said their customers use social media channels (up
from 38 percent in the spring 2011 study) and 45 percent said it didn't
take a lot of time (up from 31 percent in the spring 2011).
The survey also indicated small businesses are allocating more time
to social media marketing to engage their targets. A full 81 percent
reported using social media to market their businesses, up from 73
percent in the spring of 2011. Of those using social media marketing,
Facebook continues to be the tool of choice for small businesses, with
96 percent reporting using the tool. Twitter is quickly gaining ground;
usage surged in the last six months, from 60 percent in spring 2011 to
76 percent today.
Effectiveness scores also improved across certain key social media
marketing channels in just six months, with 60 percent of those using
Twitter finding it effective for marketing their business, up from 47
percent in spring 2011. More than half (55 percent) found LinkedIn
effective, up from 47 percent in spring 2011 and 86 percent found
Facebook effective, up from 82 percent in spring 2011. The survey found
effectiveness scores remained flat for review sites, video sharing and
location-based services, and decreased for photo sharing and MySpace.
"Small business are still learning how social media marketing can
help them grow their customer relationships," said Mark Schmulen,
general manager of social media at Constant Contact. "Just six months
ago, they were learning the ropes and finding out what social media
marketing tools were available. Now, they are beginning to understand
more about what social media marketing can do for them."
One common gripe from consumers is feeling "heard" on social media
platforms--and the majority of small businesses seem to understand
that. The survey found that roughly 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 report that they
don't have time, they don't think it's necessary, or they don't know
what to say.
"Plain and simple, customers want small businesses to interact with
them, whether that's on email or via their social media platform of
choice, be it Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn," Schmulen said. "The great
news for small businesses is that they already know all about providing
a great customer experience, and they are showing that they can carry
that over to the world of social media. It's a great example of how
small businesses are taking advantage of their smaller scale to make a
huge impact with these tools."