Posted June 4, 2009 11:54 am by with 21 comments

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lemonadestandThere is evidence that small business is starting to see the value of social media for their operations. As it has been with search marketing it is likely that a majority adoption of the practice will take a considerable amount of time but it looks like the movement is underway, to a degree.

So why not announce that “Small Business is Using Social Media!”? Well, that would imply that there is widespread adoption of the discipline which, at this point in time, just isn’t true. A study conducted by Sage Software and AMI-Partners is covered over at eMarketer and while it’s interesting, it’s no coming out party for small business and social media across the board.

The study reports that 260,000 small businesses across the US and Canada are employing social media tactics in their business to one degree or another. That’s a pretty good size number but if you take it one step further and calculate the percentage of small businesses using social media in 2 countries it is a little less impressive. Assuming 25,000,000 small businesses in the US and 2.5 million in Canada, that means that just under 1% of these business are using social media. Now many will debate these figures but if you cut the number of total businesses in half, well you do the math. These are not widely adopted practices quite yet.

So what are those who are in the game doing?

Most of them used professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. General social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook were also widely used, followed by niche communities and job sites.


Twitter has not been readily accepted as a small business tool yet but there are those who are having success using it. So why are they using any social media at all? The most prominent reasons are responding to customer questions, networking and education. What most are not doing is looking to sell through these channels which is interesting considering some of the success that can be found with a small business that gets it.

So what’s it take to get the little guy involved? Well, extra time, money and people for one. With social media being so time intensive the barriers to entry get higher as a business gets smaller. In the future it is going to be critical for small businesses to decide where they want to put their scarce resources so they can maximize their ROI. With a constantly moving target however that is increasingly difficult so the future of small business and social media will be interesting to watch.

Your thoughts?

  • “What most are not doing is looking to sell through these channels which is interesting considering some of the success that can be found with a small business that gets it.”

    I don’t feel that selling is the most important aspect of social media; it’s about building relationships with your customers. If you can build strong relationships with your customers, your sales will go up. However, I think that if you go into social media marketing with the sole purpose of getting the sale, chances are, your campaign will fail.

  • @Elizabeth – I agree on the selling part and how if that is the focus your social media campaigns might fail. In the case of Naked Pizza however they were able to push offers out once they built their reputation thus turning their relationship with the customer with a direct opportunity to offer them a chance to do more business with them.

    This is the delicate balance that most will have to strike and there is likely to be some tremendous gaffes and screw ups on the horizon as people try to figure out what works best for their business, customers and prospects alike.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Internet Marketing and Merilee Elliott – A Match Made in Dallas

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  • Transparency is such a big deal for the individual and the brand, you should not try to be something/someone you are not, because in the end it will only hurt you.

    Transparency will flow into the corporate world, due to new technology that allows consumers to broadcast their findings and opinions. Corporations/brands can no longer get away with shady goings on and they cannot be silent either. Corporate philosophy needs to align with their consumers philosophy or the consumers will look elsewhere.

    The relationship between the business and the customer must be an open and honest one. People will want to help make a business that matters to them better and then they become emotionally attached. Selling should occur when the offer is obviously not the end of the build relationship.

  • Starting your own business is an advantage as it means you are your own boss, but also there is the possibility for growth within your franchise. Some of the best small businesses like, healthcare, beauty care, retail and IT plus many more offer great business options for you.

    Lapeer County

  • Small Business it help our own life, it will help the other people to be more inspired to do some small business.

    but see..Social Media and Small Business Getting Acquainted Slowly

    small business

  • I agree with the above statements that people who do business must have transparency or else they might be declared obsolete. As a matter of fact it is really a good thing in my own opinion to have these things existing at this time.

    Jay Social Marketer’s last blog post..Two Key Ingredients to a Successful Social Marketing Strategy

  • Don’t think so !
    Autoseller Network

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  • good post, I just hope the folk in social media who have drunk the koolaid don’t get to see it =)

  • The small business has to consider about marketing as well as its budget. It is significant to choose the right marketing strategy with reasonable fee. Don’t give up to grow the business.

    Dionysia’s last blog post..Strategy in Sulumits Retsambew – Page Rank and Backlinks

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  • It’s the new form of selling. Everyone is so shy and embarrassed that they are pushing their wares. No one likes selling, but everyone has to sell. Everyone is trying to hide the fact that they want to share with as many people as they can and in as many ways as they can the business they are in/ product or service that they offer. On the customer side, we have all been sold to death, because every single company in existence is looking to acquire new customers, so every sales method that anyone can think of or improve upon is being used on the same batch of people. Because of all this, each social media platform is being used like an online meet and greet party where you chit chat and find out what people are talking about, find people with similiar interests, challenges, etc., and try to help people and indirectly promote yourself as a helper/ friendly/humble expert type. It’s great, because it produces conversation, forces all parties to be nice or be ignored/ blocked/ etc. It’s great because now if you need anything, you can get an answer for. It’s great for networking because everything is in bite-sized formats, so you have time to network 30mins a day and the cumulative effect is potentially amazing for reputation and future business and friends.

  • I have seen some great examples of small business using social media effectively. Spas are using Twitter to signal available walk-in times if a customer cancels an appointment, a local pizza company is on Twitter and promoting new menu items, and their is the bakery in the UK that’s using it to signal when new loaves are out of the oven.

    The most important thing for small business is to approach social media cautiously. They can’t just jump right in. See if your customers are using it, because it could be a waste of time and energy if your target market isn’t there to listen. Check if your competitors are using social media. If they are, try to improve what’s been done. If not, you have a first-mover advantage.

    Alex P.’s last blog post..Using Bing Effectively for Ecommerce

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