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BizReport : Social Marketing : October 15, 2009

Survey: Small businesses invading social space

A new survey from Internet2Go underlines a growing trend for small businesses - the social trend. The survey, in which Internet2Go sampled a segment of MerchantCircle's small business clients, found that 45% of small businesses are now socially active with profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

by Kristina Knight

Although the survey questioned the most frequent content publishers in MerchantCircle's small business members, the findings can be correlated to all small businesses.

"We've known anecdotally that small businesses are using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter but these numbers are surprising," said Greg Sterling, senior analyst Internet2Go. "The conventional wisdom is that SMBs are unsophisticated but they're ">adopting social media tools en masse it appears, because there are fewer barriers to entry than other forms of online marketing."

Why are small businesses turning to the social sphere? First, they are finding more and more consumers there. Metrics firms across the Internet have found that social networking site visits are skyrocketing as consumers try to connect with one another. So it makes sense for a business to create a profile on a social network - it's free, afterall - and post blogs, Tweets or status updates with specials, coupons and other deals within their stores.

The second reason? The cost - and not just the fact that social profiles are free to create. Despite being 'free to create', businesses must invest time and some manpower hours to updating social sites, ensuring that derogatory comments are policed and that the message fits the brand image. In addition to that, 79% of this survey report annual marketing budgets of $5,000 or less and one-quarter (26%) report other online marketing efforts - display, SEM, rich media, video - are simply too costly for their budgets.

"We believe the behavior exhibited by these small business owners is a pre-cursor of things to come - that small business owners will increasingly forgo expensive advertising options and embrace publishing their unique content across various social media outlets," said Darren Waddell vice president and MerchantCircle.

Still, all is not rosy in the land of social marketing. Small businesses worry about the time involved in all areas of marketing their businesses, saying they would rather focus on running the business. Also, small businesses still aren't certain of social media effectiveness. Will this be the answer to their hopes? That is yet to be seen.

What we know right now is that consumers are in the social space, and risk-taking businesses are following them there.

Tags: business profile, MerchantCircle, small business advertising, social advertising, social marketing, social profile pages

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  • In my experience, far more don't want anything to do with it. It'll take some time for the next generation of to influence the old guard. For more on social media read "The No Duhs of Social Media"




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