On the surface, small business and social media seems like such a natural pairing. Just like a good wine and cheese or a hamburger and fries.
- Usage of online platforms are free to use.
- The online playing field doesn’t require deep pockets to engage.
- With a little effort, reaching out online and through various social media platforms to find one’s customers isn’t that difficult.
Some business owners are gravitating and capitalizing through their online efforts according to a recent Manta study of over 600 small business owners across the U.S. Infographic of study results are below.
But even these study results suggest other business owners struggle to make the connection.
A word of caution about this research*: These findings would probably look very different if the results were broken out by type of business (e.g. B2B and B2C companies).
As presented, results are the perceptions of Manta (an online small business community) users in general and are not representative of all small business owners in the U.S. As current Manta users, they’ve already made the jump into the online world. Many have not.
A sizable percentage of these small business owners embrace the idea that social media and an online presence can fatten the bottom line.
- Over half (53%) feel that the combination of face-to-face and online networking is valuable to their efforts, with an additional 21% feeling online networking is ‘most’ important.
- Nine out of ten (90%) of the sample report dedicating at least a quarter or more of their networking time to online efforts.
- Over a two-thirds (78%) generate at least a quarter or more of their customers through online social media channels such as website, Facebook, LinkedIn and online forums.
- 7 out of 10 (70%) report clear customer related benefits: being found by customers; referrals; and/or the ability to engage with prospects online.
- Over half (55%) feel that social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Manta and Twitter, drive the most business.
A healthy percentage of these small business owners continue to resist some of the most popular social media platforms. Some of this resistance may be due to the type of business.
- Four out of ten (42%) have a Facebook Page, yet the majority (58%) saw little value in Facebook.
- While consumers flock to Pinterest and Groupon, almost no business owner in this survey view either of these platforms beneficial.
- A full quarter (24%) believe it is their website that drives the most business.
This group of business owners recognize the value of being engaged online and many have benefited directly from that engagement in capturing additional customers.
Most are sufficiently savvy in viewing their networking efforts as a blending of the old (face-to-face networking and websites) with the new (social media platforms) in order to achieve results.
Yet, data suggests there is still some resistance or difficulties among this group of small business owners in optimizing the various social media and online platform(s).
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*Manta polled 614 members of Manta.com via an online Silverpop survey. The study was conducted between August 16 and August 22, 2012. The study tracked small business perspectives about their use of various online social platforms.