Is social media the key to small business marketing?

Well it seems to be the case in America according to a recent forum at National Small Business Week in Washington DC.

Apparently three-quarters of small businesses are already active social media marketers and increasing their use of social media. And 2/3 of those not using it said they planned to do so this year.

So which was the favourite? According to marketing services consultants Constant Contact:

95% used Facebook followed by 60% using Twitter. 58% used Linkedin whilst 45% used YouTube. Just under a quarter used other local services.

When asked how effective each was 82% of Facebook users thought it effective, followed by almost three-quarters of video-sharing users, 55% for local services and 47% each for Twitter and Linkedin.

 

Small firms seem to be using social media as a complementary tool alongside other marketing methods. 95% were also using web-site marketing and 91% using e-mail marketing. And just over three-quarters were still using print advertising, almost as many on-line advertising, and just over half event-based marketing.

Is it the same in the UK?

According to eMarketer just over half of UK companies use Social Media to engage with their customers and prospects and a quarter of respondents said they ‘aggressively’ use Social Media to engage with their customers.

For three-quarters of the UK companies brand building was the top objective whilst just over half use social media to drive more traffic to their website or blog. Generating leads and direct on-line sales were less common goals.

PR expert Rick Guttridge from Smoking Gun PR, which specialises in digital and social media, says:

Social media can be a highly relevant tool for businesses large and small and used effectively can assist in businesses punching well above their weight.

However, don’t fall into the fool’s gold trap  of thinking it’s a free channel. Yes many of the products are free to use, especially at an entry-level, but the level of ongoing resource required to be successful should not be underestimated.

Too many businesses rush into social media to keep up with the neighbours without consideration of a strategy or how to evaluate success.

Take your time to consider your aims, target audiences  and desired outcomes before you begin. And remember, many of the traditional rules of marketing still apply here”.

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