Most small businesses are no stranger to social media marketing, and a recent Constant Contact survey details which social tools small businesses are using, the effectiveness of these tools, and the perceived barriers to social media adoption – with comparisons to a similar survey in spring of 2011. 81% of small businesses reported using social media to market their businesses, up from 73% in spring 2011.
Of small businesses that engage in social media marketing, 96% use Facebook. Twitter is second choice, with 76% of small businesses using the platform, a significant gain from 60% back in spring 2011.
Effectiveness scores improved for certain social media marketing platforms in the last six months:
- 60% of small businesses using Twitter for marketing found it effective (up from 47% in spring 2011)
- 55% found LinkedIn effective (up from 47%)
- 86% found Facebook effective (up from 82% in spring 2011)
However, effectiveness scores did not change for location-based services, and decreased for photo sharing and MySpace.
Are these businesses making sure their customers are “heard” via social media outlets? Survey results indicate that ~60% of small businesses respond to both positive and negative comments on social media platforms. The other 40% either don’t have time, don’t think it’s necessary, or don’t know what to say. These numbers are fairly positive compared to recent data from Maritz, which indicates that 71% of companies are not listening or responding via Twitter (includes large and small businesses.)
“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,” says Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact.
Small businesses also exhibited a “significant reduction in perceived barriers to adoption of social media marketing” between spring and fall 2011:
- 83% said social media marketing is low cost (up from 72% in the Spring 2011 study)
- 67% said it is easy to use (up from 54%)
- 51% said their customers use social media channels (up from 38%)
- 45% said it didn’t take a lot of time (up from 31%)
But mobile is one platform that small businesses have not yet incorporated into marketing. Only 13% have created a mobile-friendly website, while a whopping 72% don’t incorporate mobile into their marketing campaigns.
Other marketing efforts are still going strong as social media marketing continues to grow – 65% of respondents believe social tools complement other forms of marketing, including:
- 98% use websites
- 95% use email marketing
- 71% use print advertising
- 66% use online advertising
- 55% use event marketing
Finally, face-to-face interactions are still key in connecting with customers – 81% of respondents report use them, and 62% plan to host an event in the next year to facilitate these personal interactions.
Constant Contact’s Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey was administered in October 2011 to small business owners and employees. Results include responses from 1,972 respondents across a range of B2B and B2C industries. 87% of respondents were in the U.S. and 81% of organizations surveyed had 25 or less employees.