Wake Up Call for Small Business

Low Usage of Social Media

Social Media

Social Media

A couple of recent research surveys regarding social media marketing have been circulating and the most disappointing finding is from one small study that clearly states small businesses are still not engaged in social media. How can that be?  I have some thoughts, but let’s look at the facts.

The Cold Shoulder

Three hundred and four (304) US small business leaders were surveyed by Hiscox, an online insurance company.  A couple of comments about the Hiscox research study.  First, a sample of 304 businesses is not truly representative of all small business in the US.  Due to the small sample size, it wasn’t sufficient to break out by different type of small business (e.g. retailer, B2B, etc.).  Nonetheless, this study’s findings are dismal.  Only 12% of businesses described social media marketing  as a “must” and a full 50 percent of respondents aren’t using social media at all.  Four out of ten actually believe that social media isn’t “necessary” for their business.

Hiscox Survey

Hiscox Survey

Of the thirty-six percent who did report some use of social media:

“We typically don’t see that they see this (social media) as the be-all, end-all,” says Nicole Perrin, Senior Editor with eMarketer, noting that small businesses often lack the resources to execute a social media marketing plan. “They’re still very focused on traditional word of mouth and very used to traditional marketing.”

This is insane.  Why?  One reason is that while most small business owners do continue to use traditional marketing, few have ever executed their traditional marketing in a way that would really make a difference to their bottom lines.  They toss out an ad whenever the media rep thinks to call on them or stop by their store, but that isn’t exactly ‘marketing’.  There is no plan or objective behind the advertising.  Typically these ads are just pretty photos with a logo slapped on top. So, while they may use traditional media, they don’t get much for their dollars.

Another reason is that social media for business is the best time can buy…which is another way to say these online marketing channels are FREE.  No out-of-pocket is required.  Most of the small business people I talk to express a very strong desire for ‘more’ business suggesting they have the time on their hands and while they wait for that useless print ad to work they could use that time to learn more about Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin if they wanted to.

Lastly, I can not believe in 2011 there are still small business owners who hang on to the outdated belief that social media “couldn’t be beneficial to their business“.  Who are these people?  The CIA?  What craziness is this?  Don’t these businesses deliver customer service?  Don’t they have competitors?  Don’t they care about what their current or potential customers think of them?  Don’t they understand that social media and the digital foot print that a company creates online is as valuable as their products, if not more?

Cold Hard Facts

Social Media Examiner, one of the premier resources on social media conducts an annual study of the social media industry.  Its 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report was conducted a little differently.  First its study was large enough to evenly breakout B2B and B2C businesses.  The total sample was 3342 participants, or about 10 times the size of the Hiscox study.  A full third of the sample represented the self-employed, followed by another thirty percent  worked for companies with up to 100 employees and almost one out of five worked for business with 100 or more employees.

What also differentiates this research sample from the Hiscox study is that rather than ignore social media, this group has spent the time necessary to learn how and they work it.  The results?

  • The self-employed and small business owners with 2 or more employees were the most likely group to achieve improved sales as a result of the social media efforts.
  • Owners of small businesses (2 to 100 employees) were more likely than others to report greater exposure for their businesses as a result of social media.
  • The self-employed and small business owners with 2 or more employees were significantly more likely to benefit from partnerships created through social media channels.  Interestingly this happened for both B2B and B2C businesses.
  • Small businesses were more likely than other groups to strongly agree that qualified leads were generated .
  • The self-employed (59%) and small business owners with 2 or more employees (58%) were more likely than others to see reductions in marketing costs when using social media marketing.

Still not interested in Social Media?

So, as a small business, one who is currently struggling or who wants to see their business grow, are you still disinterested in social media?  Are you?  Really? Maybe you are the CIA!

Seriously, I know ‘change’ can be difficult. Learning new things isn’t easy and tough economic times tend to make one want to hunker down with worry.  But the undeniable fact is that if you want your business to grow, if you want long-term stability in your brick & mortar business, if you’re tired of cold calling and beating your head again the brick wall that comes with generating leads, you have to at least give social media a try.  The only way one can fail at social media is not to try.

If you’re willing to give social media a try, email me and I will help you get started.  No obligation.  Why?  Because I can and because if you’re a small business, you need to get into social media.  Seriously.  I will help you.  All you have to do is ask.


Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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    • Johana: Glad to hear you are a follower. I try to write several times a week, so feel free to share your thoughts on the blog.


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