SMB Growth and Social Media
Social media has changed the way small and midsize businesses market themselves. According to two recent surveys, they are using it more and more. Now the challenge remains for them to act on effective strategies to make it work for them.
In their survey, Merchant Circle found that 70 percent of small and midsize businesses are using social networks to promote themselves through sites like Google+ and Facebook. The article about the survey, featured in Marketing Land, interestingly revealed that just 6 percent are actually paying for social network advertising or marketing services. However, 20 percent of those not currently paying for advertising said they were "very likely" to do so in the next six months.
Research firm BIA and Kelsey's Local Commerce Monitor recently released an ongoing tracking survey of small and midsize businesses conducted with research partner Ipsos. The report found small and midsize businesses spending went up, on average, over the past year. The survey, which was featured in an article in eWeek, found 63 percent are now using social networks, and Facebook is now a core medium for small and midsize businesses advertising and promotion. The same eWeek article also cited a report from SMB Group which found that the overall use of social networking has risen year-over-year to 63 percent from 52 percent among midsize businesses.
The surveys and research prove that blogs, mobile websites, networking sites and email will continue to influence how businesses approach current clientele and find new consumers. Small and midsize businesses are continuing a trend of adoption and companies that haven't put together a social plan or don't find the importance in doing so--they are simply missing out.
The fact is, social networking is affordable for small and midsize businesses. They don't need a lot of money to get started. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, for example, are free and keep customers abreast of new developments within a company. The proof of the effectiveness of social marketing lies with companies that have already seen the benefits and have invested or plan to invest money on social networking ads.
Based on what these surveys have found, small and midsize businesses who haven't implemented social networking should do so because they can effectively promote themselves online. Websites already reach customers with ease and taking that a step further to keep up blogs, Facebook, or Google+ can be an effective sales tool. Businesses must learn to connect with other business or their clientele to succeed online. However, there must be strategy behind the purpose in order to see results.
Recent surveys and reports about social networking reveal a pattern--small and midsize businesses are recognizing its importance. Many businesses spend hours a week to market their products this way. As time goes on, social media will evolve and small and midsize businesses shouldn't be too far behind. They need to be aware of what's new when it comes to connecting online to truly interact with clients and business partners in innovative and effective ways.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.