Local survey offers peek at social media strategy

February 13, 2013
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There’s little doubt social media is an increasingly important tool for small businesses.

As IBJ reported in August, more than half of businesses with fewer than 100 employees regularly use social media to connect with customers, according to Massachusetts-based research firm SMB Group Inc. That’s up from 44 percent in 2011.

Carmel-based marketing firm Roundpeg’s annual survey of 400-plus area entrepreneurs offers a local take on the numbers—and a clearer picture of how they’re spending their time online.

Preliminary survey results released Wednesday (and set to be discussed on Roundpeg’s “More Than a Few Words” podcast at 10:30 a.m.) show more than 30 percent of small businesses devote at least an hour to social media each day.

Last year, just 18 percent reported spending that much time on sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

But small-business owners and employees are trying to make better use of the time, focusing their efforts on the outlets most likely to deliver paying customers.

“While they once had tried to maintain a presence everywhere, in 2012 companies realized they couldn’t do it all,” Roundpeg concluded.

So business-to-business firms tended to concentrate their efforts on professional networking site LinkedIn, for example, while consumer-focused entities identified the more social Facebook as their primary network.

Roundpeg will continue gathering data through March before putting together a white paper on the subject.

What do you think of the early results? What kind of impact does social media have on your business? Is it worth the effort?

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  • Is social media worth it?
    You all sort of teased that there would be an answer to this question, therefore, so far do the small businesses surveyed think social media is worth it? And what kind of business increases are they seeing? 10%, 30%, 50%.... Is is causing any problems? If so what kind?
    • RE: Is social media worth it?
      Hey Carol, While we're still crunching the numbers, about 40% of respondents said they get 1-10% of their sales from social media. We didn't ask if companies found the activities to be worth it or about particular problems, though those would be great questions. Thanks for your interest!
    • Let's discuss ...
      Hi, Carol -- I was hoping the question would spark discussion among folks who are active on social media. Sorry if I gave the impression that I had the answer. Andrea
    • Good question
      It's definitely a good question, Andrea, and one that a lot of us small businesses wonder about. For my outsourced CFO business, people generally will not trust you with their money until they trust you. Thus, while social media can be part of an "awareness" strategy for our business and facilitation contact with clients, it's probably not going to drive sales directly, and thus we focus most of our efforts in networking and relationship-building. Social media potentially could provide more value for a product-based or transactional-type business...

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