Posted January 21, 2011 9:57 am by with 3 comments

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With all the attention that the SMB space is getting from the sudden realization that people shop locally (really?!?!), it’s important to see if all of this is just media hype or are the actual small and medium businesses of the world actually catching on.

If the findings reported by eMarketer are any indication then the answer is a resounding “Kinda”. The chart below speaks to the results from a study done by Ad-ology. The standard MP research warning alert is in effect. We keep our research validity threat level at a constant orange (high risk of PR drenched research) and we are not adjusting for this data. You have been warned :-).

So Facebook leads the pack. No surprise there.

The numbers I am most interested in are the “Very Beneficial” ones regardless of the platform. I think that SMB’s that find social media to be very beneficial are those who look beyond the metrics of leads generated and other ‘hard’ measurements. My feeling is that if there is a real and sincere effort to work social media channels to their utmost then the likelihood of them being completely worthless is slim to none. This is regardless of what channel they have decided to work.

It’s the “Somewhat Beneficial” group that is the social media tinkerer types. They dabble and try things without giving them a chance to develop. As a result they can’t admit that they have not really worked the channel as well as they should so they won’t say that they wasted their time because then they would look stupid. Instead they are the ones that will say “Well, I don’t think this social media stuff really applies to my business like everyone says. I won’t commit any more resources to it because I have other ways that I do business. Oh and of course, I get most of my business from referrals.”

Those who say it’s not very beneficial are the delusional types. I would rather hear that someone doesn’t use it over someone who is not getting very little substantial benefit from some form of social media. If there is any real effort given to the right form of social media for a business the benefits will likely be seen, although they may not be what was originally considered to be a key performance indicator. This is the group that says if there are no sales then this is no good. Of course, the ULTIMATE goal of any marketing effort is to contribute to top and bottom line goals but there is a ‘soft result’ aspect of social media that many SMB’s either don’t get or are unwilling to explore.

Below are some of the ways that SMB’s do get benefit from social media.

Notice that overall branding is not even mentioned and I think this is where the SMB falls short on truly understanding the business potential of social media.

So how do you see these statistics? What are the most important aspects of these findings in your estimation?

Have a great weekend, Pilgrims!

  • I’m in SMB Hell in this regard. “Branding? We can’t waste our time branding when we’re trying to get our Google Rankings back.”

    And yet the rankings just keep slipping away…

  • I think that numbers can lie these days and many small businesses are doing a ‘hit or miss’ thing when it comes to their social media campaigns. When you are focused on rankings and all those traffic, you forget that what matters most is converting those unique visits into buying customers – or better yet, brand advocates. Branding doesn’t happen overnight and you simply have to love people if you want to reach the pinnacle of branding success like that of Richard Branson’s Virgin brand. In the end, it’s all about real conversation. For this reason, I’ve come up with a video meme, for kicks, on YouTube – can you imagine yourself talking to people in real life like some Twitter bot? I guess not. If you’re curious, just go to YouTube and find this video: A Lesson in (NOT) Social Media Marketing

    It’s my treat for your research here. Thanks! 🙂

  • Hey Frank,

    I really enjoyed this post and 100% agree with your point that businesses not using social media are delusional. I am the VP of marketing at and we are seeing a small shift with SMB activity. Even if social media does not directly generate leads it is the awareness that counts. On this point, it seems most SMBs do not have the time to keep up with even a single social media outlet. Which is exactly why many of them allow interns to run this facet of their business. It seems like a win win, the employer gains more recognition (and likely much much more) and a student is able to build their marketing skills. I am interested in how you feel about this practice. Do you trust interns to do the social “dirty work” for SMBs?

    -Nate Whitson
    VP of Marketing,