Social Media & SMBs: What Did I Tell You?

Many fiery critiques came at me when I posted the results of a survey with Merchant Circle (despite clear disclaimers) that indicated SMBs were starting to adopt Facebook and Twitter in larger numbers. The survey (n=2,403) tapped into a group of SMBs that we identified as “more engaged” and a potential leading indicator of where the larger market may be headed.

Email marketing provider Vertical Response recently conducted a survey (n=831) that validates this thesis and shows increasing intent to adopt social media by SMBs (I’m reminded of it by Seb P.):

Small businesses are getting more comfortable with social media, when reporting marketing plans for 2010, 35.1% of all respondents say they plan to increase their use of social media by a little and 33.3 % plan to increase it by a lot.

Here are the survey’s other top-line findings:

  • Well over two-thirds of respondents report that they plan to increase their use of email marketing and social media in 2010.
  • Email marketing continues to prove its worth to small businesses, as 96.2% plan to use email marketing in 2010.
  • Plans reported for 2010 indicate the email marketing industry will continue to thrive next year, with 38.9% businesses of 1-10 employees and 34.1% of businesses with 11-100 employees planning to increase their email marketing by a lot in 2010.
  • Over half—or 54.2 percent—of all respondents stated they won’t do online banner advertising in 2010, versus just 23.8% of respondents won’t do SEM such as Google, Yahoo and Bing next year.
  • Almost a quarter of small businesses of 1-10 and 11-100 employees won’t do search engine marketing in 2010. Of the businesses who are using this medium, only 4% of businesses with 1-10 staff and 3.3% of businesses with 11-100 will cut this channel or together or cut it down slightly in 2010.
  • A large portion of businesses do not plan on online banner advertising in 2010—represented by 56.6% of businesses under 11 staff and the 48.2% of businesses with 11-100 employees not planning on banner advertising.
  • Online banner advertising spend did not increase much over 2009—with only 4.5% of smaller business increasing this by a little in 2009, and 11.4% of businesses with 11-100 reporting the same. Just 6.1% of businesses with 11-100 employees reporting they increased their online banner advertising spend by a lot over the past year, and just 2.7% of businesses with less than 11 staff.

Vertical Response found that SEM was the “most important tool” for marketing success:

23.8% of all small businesses reported that search engine marketing was the tool most needed for their business to succeed in 2010.


Related: Here’s more survey data about email marketing and social media usage by SMBs:

Newsletters, sales and promotional offers and announcements are the most common ways small businesses say they are using email marketing. Among digital marketing tools used by small businesses, email newsletters are second only to the use of social media marketing. Opportunities to integrate both tactics are on the rise.

5 Responses to “Social Media & SMBs: What Did I Tell You?”

  1. Josh Walker Says:

    Nice post, Greg. For all the noise about twitter, I think Facebook and advances in blog tools has helped this trend along most. The economy has forced most small business owners to cut back on PR and webmasters, so they’ve turned to blogs and facebook to promote their shops and stay in touch with customers. Anecdotally, Facebook is definitely the biggest driver here: Services businesses love SEM, but for brick and mortar mom and pops it is still way out of comfort zone.

  2. Ben Saren Says:

    I wonder how many SMBs, while getting started in social, will actively engage in social… e.g., update their FB page, actually tweet etc. History has shown that “SMBs dont self provision” and while I think that’s true to a degree for most of the market, social requires a much more committed level of engagement – perhaps a shift from webmaster to social-media-master. We’re seeing lots of businesses signing up for twitter, or starting FB pages, and blogs, but not many know what to do after that… interesting to watch for sure and I’m looking forward to the evolution to come, especially as the economy rebounds.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Clearly the minority will be active FB or Twitter users. Different social media sites require different levels of commitment however.

  4. Lazy GuY Says:

    Lets face the reality the Email Culture is started to die

  5. Citysearch Becomes a ‘Twitter Client’ « Screenwerk Says:

    […] degree to which SMBs “get” social media and sites like Twitter and Facebook is variable but growing. Steve Espinosa of eLocal Listing (and elsewhere) told me informally that he’s seen about 5% […]

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