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.