In social media Facebook may still be the dominant force, particularly as far as small businesses are concerned.
New research by the Constant Contact Small Biz Council, a consortium of small businesses and non-profit organisations in the U.S, other social media marketing platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn are making significant gains amongst the small business and entrepreneurial community.
Why should such research resonate on this side of the pond you may wonder? Well, the figures would suggest that as many as 80% of small business owners say they are using some form of social media marketing in the U.S, and research on this side of the Atlantic seems to suggest that small business are just as keen on the medium here too.
The research from Constant Contact found that the majority of business owners had preferred options for certain social platforms when it comes to marketing.
Eighty two percent of small business owners say Facebook is the most effective social media platform for their business: an increase 7% on this time last year. However what is interesting is that the survey found that the biggest winners in this year’s survey were LinkedIn and Twitter. 29% of respondents believed that LinkedIn was the most effective social media platform for their organisation. That figure has increased by 19% from May, 2012. The same applied to Twitter too, where 25% of small businesses viewed social media marketing as effective: an increase of 18% from May, 2012.
General Manager of social media content for Constant Contact, Mark Schmulen, commented:
“The sharp increase in effectiveness ratings for both LinkedIn and Twitter is significant. While Facebook remains the dominant platform, small businesses are successfully expanding their engagement to reach audiences across multiple networks. This indicates another positive step in the social media adoption curve for small- and medium-sized businesses.”
It wasn’t just LinkedIn and Twitter that made headways against the brand leader, Facebook. 15% of small businesses used YouTube on a regular basis for marketing purposes, whilst 9% are now sold on Pinterest, and see this relative newcomer to the market as effective. From Google’s point of view, however, the news is not so good. Only 5% of small businesses see Google+ as effective.
Despite their increasing use of social media, 54 percent of small business owners still admit they could use some extra help in improving their social media marketing skills. Moreover although small business owners have rated social media sites as effective, they do not use the platforms all that frequently. In fact, only 13% of small business owners say they post to Twitter daily, and just 10% post weekly to LinkedIn.
Researchers say business owners can get an even better return on their social media investment by posting frequently to those sites and developing a strong plan for them.
“Twitter just celebrated its seventh birthday, but the reality is that social media marketing is a relatively new practice for most small businesses,” Schmulen said. “While the majority of small businesses are experimenting with social [media], those who have found success have learned that social media marketing requires a commitment to engaging their audience on a consistent basis.”