A couple of disruptive surveys regarding social media usage have been making their way around the Web over the last few weeks. Among the most surprising findings is the fact that small businesses are giving social media the cold shoulder. Can you say detrimental?
Hiscox, an online insurance company, surveyed 304 US-based small business leaders and unearthed some interesting results: Only 12% of businesses described social media promotion as a "must" and nearly half (47%) of respondents aren’t using social media at all.
Of the ones that do use social media, here’s how things break down:
- 19% use Facebook
- 15% use LinkedIn
- 4% use Twitter
Nicole Perrin, senior editor at eMarketer, says she’s not surprised by the results. “We typically don’t see that they see this as the be-all, end-all,” she said, noting that small businesses often lack the resources to execute a social media marketing plan. “They’re still very focused on traditional word of mouth and very used to traditional marketing.”
And while it's certainly important to acknowledge a learning curve (the graph above shows that 14% reported they didn't know enough about Social Media to use it), and the fact that these are the companies that can schedule one-on-one dinner dates with most -- if not all -- of their clients, my heart still breaks.
Isn't it Ironic?
Another recent survey labeled the 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report found that of all users, it's the small business owners that are seeing the greatest results from social media:
- The self-employed and small business owners were more likely to report new partnerships, with at least 59% noting a benefit.
- Small businesses were twice as likely to find qualified leads than other types of businesses.
- 48% of self-employed and small business owners saw improved sales as a direct result of their social media efforts.
- The self-employed (59%) and small business owners (58%) were more likely than others to see reductions in marketing costs when using social media marketing.
So, basically, the demographic that benefits the most from this whole social media wave is the one doing the least amount of surfing. It makes no sense.
Social media outlets are, increasingly, our go-to spots for connecting, discovering and learning about new things. Speaking from the Zuckerberg generation's POV, I use Twitter to keep track of the location of the traveling food trucks in my area. If a business I'm interested in checking out doesn't have a Yelp page with reviews that I can measure my needs against, I'm much less likely to visit it period. It really bums me out when I have to turn to my inbox to invite my friends to an event because nobody set up a Facebook page for it. My friend's three-year-old uses YouTube to look up videos of Spiderman. By himself. Seriously.
The list goes on.
If I can promise you anything in this lifetime, it's that social media isn't going anywhere except up. Social channels not only keep you in touch with your current customers, they also open up a whole new world of friends, friends’ friends, and so on. Why would you want to miss out on that?
Time is on my Mind
If I had to guess, I'd say a huge factor in this strange situation is time. When you're running a brick and mortar business, finding a spare moment to tweet or like stuff tends to be low on the list. Thankfully, there's a slew of services that offer ways to schedule updates.
I recently compiled a list of tools that can be used specifically to schedule Twitter updates, although a couple of these solutions (like Sendible) can also direct these updates to other platforms, such as Facebook: Managing Twitter for Business: 4 Tools for Scheduling Tweets. Please, use that as a springboard.
If you're a small business owner or just someone who has something to say, please use the comments section below to talk about some other reasons social media isn't being used where it's most beneficial.