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Small Business Starting to Use Social Media Successfully

I talk about small business Internet marketing more than anything else since a lot of people that I know are small business people. That’s why I blog about their experiences and their issues because these people are often viewed as the backbone of any true economic recovery that might take place. While big business still use the “bad economy” as an excuse to cut jobs at record pace the little guy is trying to make it happen. Heck, as a result of the continued layoffs from the big boys more small businesses are being born every day. As a result, social media adoption by SMB’s has increased as well.

A study reported by the Center for Media Research which was done by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business tells us

….social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year. Small businesses are increasingly investing in applications including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.

It’s good to see the little guy get more involved with social media. Unlike search marketing (in particular paid search) social media allows for some true creativity and because of its relatively low cost (notice I didn’t say free) the small business has less of a chance of getting burned. I can’t tell you how many times I speak to SMB’s who bemoan how much money they have spent on paid search and have seen no return. Social media opportunities are a breath of fresh air to these people.

The chart below tells the story

This kind of activity is something that will reinvigorate a struggling SMB and can even lead to cost savings as they learn what is really working with their advertising.

Dr. Alan Glazier, CEO and Founder of an eye and vision care center, said “… I was forced to consider alternative options to keep my business visible… with a very small investment in social media marketing, I was able to generate new business opportunities… (and) most importantly, my marketing budget has been reduced by more than 80%… “

Maybe Dr. Glazier’s sense of humor is helping as well (needing to find alternatives to keep his vision care center visible…Good one, doc).

Of course, as with anything it’s not all party hats and celebration. SMB’s struggle more with some of the downsides of the social media “effect” because they are often not able to spread the work out over other team members because they may not have them. Also, there is fear around social media as to whether it can open a can of worms that they are not ready to handle.

50% of small business social media users say it takes more time than expected. While social media adoption has doubled in the last year, there are still some roadblocks to small businesses fully exploiting its potential. Another 17% feel that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet. Related to this, only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it.

While it is never the silver bullet or the “automatic win” that many SMB social media hucksters proclaim it to be there is a lot of opportunity for the SMB to be promoting their business and finding more business than ever before. The odds are not stacked against the SMB in social media as they can be with other marketing options but the old adage “you gotta be in it, to win it” is more real than ever.

Tell us a good SMB social media story or encounter you had. Some really creative ideas never get outside of the towns they are hatched in unless we tell someone else. Let’s hear it.

  • http://roymorejon.com roy morejon

    It’s great to see the adoption of social media by SMB’s increasing.- Hopefully they have a strategy in place.
    .-= roy morejon´s last blog ..Plain Language & Your Marketing Message =-.

  • http://www.atkinsmarketingsolutions.com Stuart Atkins

    SM provides a no cost or low cost medium for small businesses to gain mindshare in this economy. In my new book, Small Business Marketing – A Guide for Survival, Growth, and Success, (Amazon: Paperback and Kindle), I advise small business owners to guard against SM as a time bandit. One has to bee careful on the time equation. Balance, focus, and a little bit each day works best.

  • http://www.webmarketersspeak.info Lafate Smith

    Social Media helps small businesses level the playing field somewhat when trying to compete with big corporations. Social media is a more customer oriented type of marketing, which I think gives the small business owner somewhat of an advantage. Small businesses of all types should really invest time into learning the tools of social media and use it to interact with their customers and clients as soon as possible. However, the next big step for social media users is finding a good way to measure how well one’s social media strategy is working.

  • http://www.toprankmarketing.com Lee Odden

    A startup company came to us with a very new web site in the B2B Marketing space and brought with them very high goals. As a new business and site, the disadvantage of no content or links earned yet prompted a look a social media centered around a blog. After 2 years of blog posts, Tweets, Facebook activity and other creative social promotions, that small business now has over 400 customers at 30k/year each, most of which were acquired via Social Content (blog) or search influenced by social promotions. On top of that, they get bragging rights with both blog and corp site ranking top 10 on Google for very competitive phrases such as “B2B Marketing” .

    There are a lot of case studies and success stories floating around the web about social media talking about Fans/Followers and other engagement metrics, but I think this story of customer acquisition and revenue based on social content and SEO is worth telling. BTW, the SMB is Marketo.

  • http://earnmoneyadsens.info/ Muhammad amjad butt

    Which is the business best for me and how much capital need?

  • http://www.smallbusinessloanblog.com/ Small Business Loan Blog

    Social media is where the buzz is, and small businesses need to be there to reach customers. good post..
    .-= Small Business Loan Blog´s last blog ..Small Business Tip : Fee vs Free =-.

  • http://www.syscomminternational.com SysComm

    It is interesting to notice how most small businesses understand the need to have a presence on social networking sites, but only half of them actually monitor feedback about their business. Good post!

  • http://hubspot.com/roi Mike Volpe – HubSpot

    We agree completely! Buzz and brand building are one thing, but most SMBs need customers and revenue from their marketing efforts. There are tons of other stats to back this up too:

    - Social media helps drive low cost leads. Inbound marketing-dominated organizations experienced 60% lower cost per lead than outbound marketing-dominated organizations. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/5587/Survey-Inbound-Marketing-Cost-Per-Lead-Is-60-Lower-Than-Outbound.aspx)

    - Social media drives sales. 100% of companies that blog daily have acquired customers from thier blog. (http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/5620/Companies-That-Blog-More-Have-More-Consistent-Sales.aspx)

    And from our own experience, we have grown in just a couple years from 0 customers to over 2,200 customers, becoming the largest and fastest growing marketing software company – and it is all because we used inbound marketing (social media, SEO, blogging, conversion) as the core of our marketing strategy.

  • http://www.wowzzy.com craig

    But as per the stats only 14% of small businesses are using social media and only 7% are having a blog but trend is so good that business owners realizing advantages of social media is future is exciting for small business owners

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  • http://www.thejlsagency.com Kelley Edwards

    Great post on the importance of social media. The push to utilize more social networks to market business is what can now give an edge to smaller companies. Right now, small businesses have the time and capabilities to learn and improve their use of social media giving them a potential leg up on the competition. As a relatively small digital marketing firm The JLS Agency is in the process of just that.

    Food for thought: In our research, we have noticed that a blooming audience for social media is mothers,(http://www.thejlsagency.com/post/10) and the emphasis is on communication rather than blatant advertising…thoughts??

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  • http://www.memcatch.com Kari MCClintock

    Hi Frank, I read your blog today and found it really informative. I wanted to connect with you because I think you and your readers would be interested in MemCatch. It’s a new platform that has some great features. MemCatch has developed a very easy and simple way for you, and the general user to get started, and be productive with their social media activities across Twitter, Linkedin, and Facebook. We have also developed metrics to track the content you share. MemCatch includes the sharing component that can be found in some other apps, but our platform also offers functionality for collecting content across the web. We have packaged all of the basic social media steps together into one user friendly platform.