Small Biz Embracing Social Media, But Obstacles Remain

More small businesses are embracing social media for advertising and marketing, according to a new survey of 1,972 small businesses by Constant Contact -- a finding which bodes well for local and location-based social media ad spending in the long term. But at the same time a separate survey of 343 small business executives by Social Strategy1 found many small business owners are still grappling with the question of how to use social media to grow their businesses.

The proportion of small businesses using social media for marketing and advertising has increased from 73% in spring of this year to 81% currently, the Constant Contact survey found. Meanwhile 63% of small businesses said social media is easy to use, up from 51%, and 80% said it is low-cost, up from 70%.

These measures indicate that small businesses are at least receptive to social media as a marketing tool -- but some of the survey’s other findings suggest that it is still a largely experimental channel for small businesses. Only 48% of respondents said social media “works with my customers” -- up from 35% earlier this year, but still less than half of those surveyed.

Similarly, the Social Strategy1 survey found that 67% of small business owners were holding back on investing in social media marketing because they “don’t know where to begin,” and are nervous about the amount of resources needed to meet the expectations of social media users. According to SS1, 51% of small business owners are leery of sharing sensitive information, 50% say there’s too much social media to manage, and 44% fear “information overload.” For small business execs who fit this profile, SS1 recommends using social media primarily for listening and gathering intelligence on consumer sentiment.

Among those who use social media for marketing and advertising in the Constant Contact survey, Facebook is the most popular at 95%, followed by Twitter at 75% and LinkedIn at 60%. In terms of effectiveness, 85% of those who used Facebook found it effective, up from 80% this spring, compared to 60% for Twitter (up from 47%) and 55% for LinkedIn (also up from 47%).


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