In our “Big Trends for Small Business,” which we hope you’ve had a chance to read, we point out that among the top trends impacting small business social media is not going away. A recent study of 400 decision makers at small and medium sized businesses conducted by Duct Tape Marketing and Vocus, a provider of cloud based marketing software, suggests that most of you agree.

Of the survey, entitled “ Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media,” John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing founder, blogs:  “The study reinforced something that I’ve been noticing more and more, that there’s finally this acceptance that social media not only isn’t going away. It’s an essential element of the marketing mix and the real challenge now is to figure out how to integrate it into the total online and offline marketing presence.”

Survey overview

Specifically, the survey points out small and medium-sized businesses are finding social media platforms helpful and are measuring their progress by focusing on business outcomes.

  • 77 percent of SMBs say that social media accounts for 25 percent or more of their total marketing effort
  • 87 percent of SMBs say social media has been somewhat helpful or helped a great deal
  • The top two measurement metrics are 1) traffic (76 percent) and 2) number of new customers
  • 84 percent of SMBs plan to increase their use of social media at least a little in the future.
  • 73 percent of SMBs have added social media to the existing duties of a marketing person.

Despite the growing acceptance of social media, small and medium sized businesses are divided in their view of online influence, the survey concludes.  Among respondents, 40 percent prefer a smaller but highly engaged audience, while 27 percent prefer a huge following with little engagement. Ironically, the 27 percent that prefer a large following are also more likely to report social media has been very helpful to their efforts. 

Of the challenges small business face in dealing with social media, respondents expressed the following themes:

  • Overcoming the perception that social media is free.
  • Multiple toolsets for managing social media.
  • Addressing customer concerns in a public forum

Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media

Top activities for social media

Of the social media platforms, Facebook was cited as the most often used. LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube also got high rankings, with Google + coming in fifth but where small businesses plan to make more of an investment next year.

Regarding the use of social media platforms, the activities break down as follows:

  • 91 percent share news about the organization
  • 90 percent share news about new products or services
  • 81 percent promote content posted on the company website or blog
  • 70 percent to increase or optimize the company’s presence in search engine results
  • 69 percent to advertise sales or special promotions
  • 43 percent to hold contests

View the complete study

What percent of your marketing is now focused on social media?  With Small Business Saturday coming up November 24, how are you planning to leverage social media to make sure potential customers find you?