A new online survey of more than 2,000 US small business by Internet2Go, an Opus Research advisory service, and MerchantCircle, suggests that a growing segment of small business owners are using social media to promote their businesses. The survey, conducted September 8-18, 2009, found that roughly 45 percent of respondents have a presence or profiles on Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses.
Although the survey focused on Merchant Circle’s most active publishers, a group predisposed to me more online, it certainly suggests that small business owners are coming to understand the power of social media and the relative low cost vs. high return opportunity. However, the survey further suggests, to me at least, that while it’s easy to get on Facebook and twitter, there’s still a gap in understanding how to make them pay. The danger in jumping into social media networks, with no barrier to entry, without a strong “hub” foundation of a blog or content portal is that it’s difficult to convert someone from the awareness that might be gained through Facebook to the trust needed to make a sale. (See the final point below)
Other survey findings include the following:
- 79% of respondents report annual marketing budgets of less than $5,000 per year with the 44% spending â€œless than $1,000â€ annually on advertising and marketing
- 80% of respondents have four or fewer employees
- Asked about their “biggest complaint” regarding online marketing the top two were “too costly” (26%) and “there’s not enough time to do it well and still run a business” (15.9%)
- 75% said they monitor online reviews of their business. The most common method was by visiting specific review websites (47%) and by searching on their business name (44%)
- Despite its popularity social media showed the biggest gap between SMB adoption and perceived effectiveness as a marketing platform.