Small-Business Social Media Marketing Strategies Start to Shift

A Magisto survey finds Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to create videos for social media and almost none would invest in television ads.

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Traditional marketing goals have not changed for small and midsize businesses, revealing that three out of four SMBs want to generate new customers and more than half want to build customer loyalty and grow brand awareness, according to a Magisto survey of 550 SMBs.

However, according to the survey, the way SMB marketers reach these goals is shifting drastically from traditional methods such as print and TV advertising to strategies using social media and video—a shift driven mostly by the Millennial generation.

Millennials are 136 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to create videos for social media and virtually no Millennials marketing SMBs would invest in television advertising, according to the survey.

"The survey confirms that there is a massive generational shift happening with digital storytelling, especially for SMB marketers," Reid Greiner, chief marketing officer of Magisto, told eWEEK. "Millennials, unlike Baby Boomers, have gotten the message that social media is the new mass media and, more importantly, have figured out the nuances of how to make it work."

Greiner explained Millennials inherently understand the culture and "rules of engagement" for social media that allows them to connect with audiences on a deeper level directly through social media, by speaking to customers in a more authentic, personal way.

"It’s the difference between advertising and conversing," he said. "Our survey data revealed that nine out of 10 Millennials at SMBs lead with social media in their marketing strategy, and are 84 percent more likely to use social media over print advertising."

The report also found more than half of Millennials at SMBs lead with branded lifestyle video stories versus traditional product overviews that their older colleagues continue to create.

"In other words, Millennials understand how to push the right content to the right audience through the right channels versus pushing traditional marketing strategies through social channels and hoping for the same effect," Reid said.

According to the data, Millennials are 183 percent more likely than Baby Boomers to post a video to Instagram.

"One of the greatest struggles for SMBs is determining how and where to spend their precious marketing dollars," Reid said. "There are so many emerging content formats and channels to consider, and with limited time and resources available to most SMBs, every minute wasted and every penny counts.

“SMBs have a hard time tracking marketing ROI in general,” he continued. “Content marketing and lifestyle media creation is even harder to track than performance-based advertising."

It is critical, then, for SMBs to understand attribution and ROI and, in the absence of that, to understand their target audience and make sure the content both speaks directly to that audience and is being distributed in the channels where those audiences spend time.