Small business owners of all ages are embracing social media networks and using them to empower their organization in today’s highly competitive marketplace. One in five small business owners is incorporating social media into their marketing plans according to a study done by the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Small Business Success Index (SBSI). All types of small businesses doubled their adoption rate of social media usage from 12% to 24% in 2009. Naturally, this helped to spur on an increase in time spent on social media, +82% more time, or 5.5 hours per month in 2009.
Who are these small business owners? According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics,“More Americans Start Own Business” by Laura Petrecca, USA Today, the fastest growing sector of small businesses, +29% growth rate, is among those aged 65+ years old (10% of the total). That translates to some 213,000 senior citizens, or baby boomers, spurring on our economy with their ingenuity and experience. The next largest sector of growth is among those aged 20-24 years old, at 16% growth (3% of the total). However, the largest sector of small business owners, 26% of the total, is still the 45-54 year old boomers who experienced soft trends of -2% vs. 2008. It’s interesting that the very young professional or new graduate and the mid-career professional and the senior citizen professional are all playing a vital role in keeping the US small business sector healthy.
No matter how old you are, if you are a small business owner, you may want to know how other small businesses are utilizing social media, why others are using it and does it pay off? The Small Business Success Index™ (SBSI) reports the major social media trends:
- 75% have a company page on a social networking site
- 69% post updates/articles on LinkedIn and/or Facebook
- 58% feel that it met expectations, 12% feel it exceeded expectations and 25% feel it fell short of expectations
- 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
- 54% monitor positive/negative feedback on social network sites
- 50% say it takes more time than expected
- 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months
- 39% have a blog on an area of expertise
- 36% Tweet about an area of expertise
- 17% express that social media give people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet, yet only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than it helped
- 15% us Twitter as a customer service channel.
Here are the most common reasons for using social media for small business owners:
- 73% claim that social media identifies and attracts new customers
- 56% say it develops a higher awareness of your organization within your target market
- 46% use it to stay engaged with their current customers
- 34% claim it allows them to collaborate more effectively externally, with suppliers, partners and colleagues
- 25% claim it allows them to collaborate more effectively internally.
One of the big issues today is whether or not social media efforts are worth it. Here is an article that speaks to the success of Twitter and blogging in effectively increasing lead generation from Hubspot in eMarketer’s online publication. Businesses are just now figuring out how to measure and calculate the effectiveness of social media, so watch out for more studies examining the ROI of social media in the future. In the meantime, the Small Business Index report indicates that 22% of small businesses have made a profit already while 53% feel that they will make a profit in the next 12 months and only 9% say they will lose money. With these preliminary numbers in mind, it is safe to say that social media networks do in fact work and empower a small business in staying competitive.
If you are not using social media networks or have no clear plan, here are just a few articles that may assist you in how to approach them and some simple steps on what to do.
The nuances of the unspoken etiquette and on participating with integrity from MarketingProfs.
- How and why you should use the top three social medial networks, e.g. Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, from MarketingProfs.
- Tips, tools and trends for mastering social media from Small Business Trends.
- Social media marketing tips by type of social media from Mashable/Business.
For some examples of companies that are using social media networks, see below. You can learn from representative of these companies at the Brandsmart Conference 2010 in Chicago on June 24th.
I-Go Car blog
Is your small business or company using social media more these days? Tell us how social media has changed the marketing landscape for your company or business.