In just 6 months, barriers to social media adoption have dramatically decreased for small businesses, according to a November report from Constant Contact. Data from the “Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey” indicates that 83% of respondents who use social media marketing do so because it has a low cost, up 15% from Spring 2011, while 67% cite its ease of use, up 24%. Other perceived barriers have also fallen in the past 6 months: 45% of small businesses using social media marketing say it does not take a lot of time, up 45% of respondents from the Spring, while 51% say it works for their customers, also up 45% from the previous study. However, only about 1 in 5 respondents say that they have the staff to devote to social media marketing or that it works better than other methods. Overall, 81% of the small businesses surveyed report using social media marketing, up from 73% in the Spring 2011 survey, with 47% saying their use of social media has increased substantially.
Social Media Complements Other Tools
Roughly two-thirds of respondents report that social media tools work well with other forms of marketing. The top online tools used by small businesses are websites (98%), email marketing (95%), social media marketing (81%), and online advertising (66%). However, social media is seen as relatively ineffective compared to other tools: whereas 83% of small businesses using email marketing find it to be effective, just 61% of those that have adopted social media marketing see it that way.
Facebook Top Method
Among the small businesses that report using social media, Facebook continues to be the tool of choice, with 96% reporting its use and 86% of those rating it as effective. However, Twitter is quickly gaining ground, with 76% reporting use, up 27% from 60% in Spring 2011. 60% of those using Twitter find it effective, an increase of 28% from 47% just 6 months ago. And while 62% of small businesses using social media marketing report use of LinkedIn, only 55% of those say it is an effective tool. Others fared even worse: local/daily deals (45%), Google+ (40%), and location-based services (34%) were seen as effective by less than half of the small businesses that used them.
Strong Social Media Engagement Reported
Among the small businesses using social media marketing, roughly 60% say they respond to all comments on social media platforms, whether those comments are positive or negative. 24% say they respond occasionally, while 16% say they never respond. The 3 main reasons reported for lesser engagement were: not having the time; not thinking it is necessary; and not knowing what to say.
Those not engaging with customers on their social networks should pay heed to survey results released in March by RightNow and Harrive Interactive, which showed that 85% of customers who posted a negative review on a social network of a shopping experience and were then contacted by the retailer wound up taking an action that was positive for the retailer.
- 70% of all respondents report using Facebook to connect one-on-one with customers or prospective customers, ahead of Twitter (46%), but behind email (97%) and face to face meetings (81%).
- 72% of respondents report not yet incorporating mobile into their marketing campaigns and only 13% have created a mobile-friendly website. According to an October report from Econsultancy in association with RedEye, 70% of global companies are not yet designing their websites specifically for mobile phones or tablets. Data from the report indicated that one-quarter of companies have designed their websites specifically for mobile phones, while just 13% have done so for tablets.
About the Data: The Constant Contact survey was administered during October 2011 to small business owners and employees. Results include responses from 1,972 organizations across a range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries. 87% of the respondents are located in the US, and 81% have 25 or less employees.