Social Media Examiner®, the large online social media magazine, recently released its seventh annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Based on a survey of 3,720 marketers, business owners and entrepreneurs from the U.S. and overseas, the study puts the spotlight on social media trends in small business marketing.
Virtually all the survey respondents (96%) use social media marketing in some way and 92% of those “agree” or “strongly agree” that “Social media marketing is important for my business.” That’s fair confirmation that small business isn’t on the fence about social media. Everyone has jumped in at some level.
In terms of social media channels used, Facebook is the big kid on the block at 93%, followed at a respectable distance by Twitter and LinkedIn. Moving forward, the trend is toward more small business social media activity across all major platforms. More than 60% of survey participants plan to increase their use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn – for marketing purposes – over the next year. And it’s worth noting that YouTube’s overall usage number misleads just bit. Depending on where you look, it can be more robust – or less. YouTube usage jumps to 71% for business with 100+ employees compared to 38% for the self-employed.
The report also points out some not-so-surprising differences between B2B and B2C marketers. The B2B respondents tag LinkedIn (41%) as their top choice for social networking. That’s where they can find other business folks looking for industry connections and news. In comparison, the B2C marketers gravitate to Facebook (65%) because of its massive reach of consumers throughout the world. One more observation here: I’d look for Pinterest and Instagram usage to increase significantly over the next year. With continual improvements in navigation, format and functionality, marketing opportunities will abound for businesses large and small.
The Social Media Examiner study also offers some interesting points about social media content. While most people enjoy the visual appeal of video and photographs, marketers highlighted blogging as their most important type of social media content. Why? Both business decision makers and consumers research their purchases thoroughly before buying. Marketers believe that a blog post can provide more detailed info than a short video or photo. Probably true, but in my opinion, words and pictures working together make the strongest presentation.
One more point before closing. We all marvel at the vast amount of data available to analyze the effectiveness of social media marketing efforts. But although 92% of study respondents agreed that “Social media marketing is important for my business,” the majority doesn’t really know if it works. For example, 45% of Facebook marketers believe their efforts are effective. But 54% are “uncertain” or “disagree” about the effectiveness of Facebook marketing. Sounds like the bad rap suffered by traditional advertising for years. History always repeats….