SMBs and the Social Equation: Which SocialMedia Sites Work Best for Businesses?
There's little question that small-business owners understand the power of social media and its importance to their bottom line. As of 2013, some 92% of polled SMBs (Small - Medium Businesses) said their social profiles were effective tools for their marketing and brand-building push.
"We use social media as a means to not only attract new people to our website and online community but also as a tool to nurture relationships with customers who choose to friend or follow the company," said Stephanie Ciccarelli, chief marketing officer and co-founder of Voices.com, an online voice-over marketplace.
"Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have given our already social brand another outlet to shine and connect regularly and freely with our customers," she continued. "When someone follows you via a social channel, they are also granting you the opportunity to enter their world, as in permission marketing."
But what platforms are out front, which ones are SMBs turning to most often? To help illuminate some answers to that question, Slabmedia conducted an informal survey of 35 small businesses. Let's look at what they had to say.
SMB Survey: Social Media and Brands Like Us
Chances are, you haven't got a multi-million dollar advertising budget. If you own an SMB, and your line item for marketing is still a modest amount, you likely already work with social media to help fill the brand-growth gap.
One national survey of 2,292 small-business owners revealed that 88% of SMBs with social profiles list Facebook as a top social-media channel for business outreach, followed by LinkedIn (39%); Twitter (31%); Google+ (22%); Pinterest (20%); and YouTube (17%).
But how do the national stats square with what Slabmedia found, in its survey? Our results, based on the responses of 35 SMBs to the question "what are your business's top 3 social-media platforms", were as follows.
And so, we see Twitter with lead by a 6% margin over Facebook. LinkedIn comes through in third place, and then Google+ and Instagram round out the top five. The category of "other" — accounting for 11% of the voting — includes Tumblr, YouTube, Foursquare, Vimeo, Yelp, Scoop.it, SlideShare, Quora, and Flickr, all of which garnered 2% or less among the platforms cited by our polled owners.
The Blog: Still a Place for Brands and Customers
Among the respondents, another message came through as well: blogs still matter.
Chris Cooper, co-owner of Active Movement and Performance, a personal training studio, said that his company's emphasis on Facebook and Instagram goes hand in hand with the way the business's blog allows staff to elaborate on services and topics of interest.
It's a key point to make, and it's backed by stats. That is, 95% of small businesses in a recent e-Strategy Trends report said blogging is also part of their effective marketing toolkit."Our blog gives a bigger area to discuss what is going on in the news relating to health, fitness, and nutrition," Cooper said. "Our blog also enables us to educate our clients — and really any readers — on what to do. We also provide weekly motivational posts to kickstart the week."
Blending the blog with the shorter-form environments of social-media platforms is good advice for SMBs. If the overall strategy is outreach, and finding your customers where they go to chat, then bringing them into your sales funnel from those location means drawing them back to a website where calls to action can lead to that one important result — not just the fostering of interest and loyalty, but an actual conversion at the end of the conversation.