Currently 69% of small business owners surveyed by Webs are using social media -- including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogs -- at their companies; another 13% said they plan to begin using social media in the next three months. In terms of specific platforms, Facebook was the clear leader with 68% of small business owners saying it is the social media tool they use most for their businesses.
That's the good news. The less-good news is that -- just like big national advertisers -- small business owners are still trying to figure out how to use social media, which remains very much an "experimental" marketing tool. Of the small business owners surveyed by Webs, 59% said social media has "not met" or only "slightly met" their expectations as a marketing tool, and 43% said they currently allocate 10% or less of their marketing budgets to social media.
But its basic utility for marketing is indisputable, even if practitioners are still tinkering: thus 77.5% of the Webs respondents said they plan to spend more of their marketing budget on social media in 2011 than 2010.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Webs also found varying adoption rates across different age groups of small business owners. While 72.9% of small business owners aged 25-34 use social media for business, that dips slightly to 68.9% in the 35-44 age cohort, and more significantly to 58.4% among small business owners aged 45-54.