For small businesses, marketing can be the thing that makes or breaks growth. Many small businesses rely more than anything on word-of-mouth marketing and “old fashioned” methods. Many businesses, however, avoid social networking because they are uncertain of how to get started.
The state of small business social marketing
Insurance provider Hiscox partnered up with Mashable to conduct a survey of how small businesses approach marketing. About one-half of businesses with fewer than 250 employees said that they “could not do without” word of mouth marketing. Social media, however, was significantly less popular; 64 percent of respondents said social media marketing was “not necessary.” Twelve percent said social media was a “must,” and only 4 percent said they “couldn’t do without” social media marketing. About 14 percent of these businesses said that they “didn’t know enough about social media to use it effectively.”
Breaking down the numbers
The numbers from the small business marketing study are plentiful but can be overwhelming. The takeaways, however, are simple. Many small businesses don’t think social network marketing is necessary, effective or useful. Many are simply uncertain of how to make the best use of social media for their businesses. Facebook and Twitter are the most popular networks for businesses that do use social networking, while LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs follow. Some research suggests that half of individuals on Twitter are willing to follow brands, while only about 16 percent of individuals on Facebook are willing to follow a brand.
Putting these numbers to use
So if you are a small business, what do these numbers mean? Put simply, a business should have some kind of social networking presence because social networking is an element of word-of-mouth marketing. It is better to have one social network that is used carefully, rather than multiple social networks that are ignored. Twitter is more likely to connect directly with customers, though the decision of which network to use should be made with careful consideration.