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Small Businesses Use Social More Than Any Other Media

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Small and medium-sized businesses use social media more than any other media to promote themselves, according to research from BIA/Kelsey.

Nearly 75 percent of all SMBs use social in some form. Facebook is the most popular at 55 percent of the total SMBs having a Facebook business page. About 20 percent have spent money on Facebook advertising.

“It’s evident from LCM 18 that social media has become a pivotal platform for SMBs,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “Social media is not only number one in terms of utilization by SMBs, it is also number one in share of SMB media spending.”

SMBs, defined as businesses with fewer than 100 employees, spent an average of 21 percent of their media budgets over the previous year on social.

The study covers 10 top-level media categories: online, traditional print such as newspapers and  direct mail, mobile, local coupons, social, video, local directories (print and online), giveaway items  and community sponsorships.

 Significance of Findings

It is important to distinguish between usage and spending because usage is easy to do in social media.

Setting up accounts in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is a common and well-documented practice for any size business.

Maintaining them with a continual stream of postings is also easy to do — in some cases just five minutes a week will help sustain a social media account.

It’s also fair to say that businesses don’t use or interact with other media the way they do with social. They can’t log in to a print coupon, newspaper, TV station or other platforms and make changes the way they can with social media.

The more significant statistic is not the usage but the spending on social.

Social Media Advertising

Facebook of course is the leader in social media and not surprisingly is the leader in social media advertising.

It has shrewdly started squeezing down the distribution of page posts to people who Like a page in what may be kindly called an attempt to encourage businesses to spend more money on advertising their page (or on ads with links directly to their Web sites).

The fact that the BIA/Kelsey study shows that 21 percent of an average SMBs media budget goes to social is an indication that businesses find social appealing as an advertising vehicle for several important reasons. Social advertising can:

  1. Target demographically or geographically
  2. Accommodate small budgets, as little as $5 a day over a few days
  3. Handle billing in a simple and automated way via credit card

The same can be said for search engine advertising, which undoubtedly represents a large percentage of the rest of the SMBs media budget.

Getting Started for Newcomers

The fact that 21 percent advertise in social media means that 79 percent do not.

It makes sense for any business that has a media budget and has not tried social media to test it with a small campaign in order to develop those skills and experience.

The risk is minimal because a starter campaign on Facebook or Twitter might be as simple as $5 a day for three or four days.

The only real cost is time, and a campaign on either site can be up and running within 30 minutes.

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