Small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) were among the first to use social media tools, often because of the low cost associated with launching a campaign. Years later, SMBs are still avid fans of the format. They’re also experienced enough to understand which sites are working best for them and their opinions might surprise you.
Social networks present a challenge to the typical SMB owner. While these businesses don’t have to shell out money for an expensive campaign when they turn to social media, they're finding the costs are high when time is factored in. If the owners can’t afford to hire a social media expert, they engage online themselves or assign the responsibility to employees. About 50% of SMBs spend “between one and five hours weekly on social media.”
A new Wall Street Journal/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey shows a bit of a mismatch between the social sites that SMBs use versus the ones they believe are most useful. For example, while 30% of these enterprises use Linkedin, 41% say that site has the most potential. Interestingly, about 22% of SMBS use Facebook but only 14% say the site holds great potential. That’s lower than the 16% who say YouTube has the best potential. So far, only 13% use YouTube.
Another intriguing finding in this survey relates to Twitter. About 14% of businesses use the network but only 3% say it has good potential.Some survey respondents complained they couldn’t “engage in a meaningful way” with potential clients on Twitter. Other respondents pointed out that their Linkedin efforts yielded better results than Twitter.
Some of this difference is likely due to the type of business and target audience involved. Survey results like this have caught the attention of Twitter execs though and they say they will be paying more attention to SMBs in the future. Meanwhile, SMBS have newer options to explore, like Pinterest and Google+ as they seek the right balance for their social media marketing programs.
For a different take on SMBs and social media, check out the 2013 Small Business Marketing Forecast available at the Research Store on ad-ology.com.[Source: Maltby, Emily and Ovide, Shira. Small Firms Say LinkedIn Works. Online.wsj.com. 31 Jan. 2013. Web. 14 Feb. 2013]