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A survey of surveys: small business social media stats

Posted by Jason Keith  November 15, 2011 06:00 AM

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There’s a very famous old saying, written by Mark Twain in his own biography: "There are three kinds of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics."

We’ve never been more inundated with numbers, data and statistics than we are today. The Internet serves as the perfect vehicle for content, meaning there is more and more reliance on unique data and numbers to stand out. Every few months it seems there is a new survey that comes out, but the topic that has been analyzed and dissected more than any is social media usage. How often small business owners are using social media and what platforms they are using the most is the subject of many surveys. Even I’m guilty of generating social media stats for micro businesses around social media.

If you search for “social media small business statistics” in Google you’ll get over 21 million results. As with all statistics, they need to be taken with a grain of salt. What one survey says, another could easily refute, and as I’ve talked about in the past, not all small businesses are created equal.

However, there are always interesting insights you can take away from small business social media surveys, regardless of the sample size, focus or demographic. Collectively, they all tell us something. Below are some interesting social media stats pertaining to the “Big Three” platforms and what can be concluded in terms of future use and small business impact.

Facebook:


  • 75% of small businesses are using Facebook for their business (Postling.com)

  • 49% of micro businesses say that Facebook is their primary social media platform (Vistaprint)

  • According to CreditDonkey, just 35% of small business owners have a Facebook page (CreditDonkey)

  • On Facebook alone, 69% of small businesses reported receiving customer recommendations through the site (University of Maryland School of Business)

  • Nearly half of SMBs utilize social media to market to customers; of those, an overwhelming majority (86%) have Facebook accounts (Zoomerang)

  • 68% name Facebook as the social media property they use most. (Webs.com)


The takeaway: Facebook is easily the most popular social media platform (despite the swings in usage stats above among small businesses), with tens of millions of users and businesses signed up. As more small businesses adopt their own Facebook page, it’s going to be harder to compete without one. Facebook is also making a concerted effort to push into the small business space, trying to make its advertising platform more accessible. As they embrace the small business audience further, it’s likely the company will roll out tools that are more “user friendly” for this segment.

Twitter


  • 78% of small businesses are currently using Twitter (Postling)

  • 7% of small businesses are currently using Twitter (Crowdspring)

  • Less than 3 percent of micro businesses are using Twitter for their business (Vistaprint)

  • 16% of small business owners are using Twitter as a customer service channel (University of Maryland School of Business)

  • 33% of small and mid-sized businesses use Twitter for their business (Zoomerang)


The takeaway: Despite the research from Postling, it seems the majority of small businesses haven’t yet figured out what to make of Twitter. The truth is a lot of big companies haven’t either. Many are using it as a customer service channel while others are pushing their own content through it. Advertising is just starting to take shape with promoted tweets, but it’s probably going to be cost prohibitive for small business owners. Twitter also takes more time than Facebook, if done correctly. Those that don’t have time should research the benefits/drawbacks before jumping in.

LinkedIn


  • 18% of small businesses are using LinkedIn (Crowdspring)

  • 18% of small business owners have a LinkedIn profile (Credit Donkey­)

  • 41% of small businesses use LinkedIn to market to customers (Zoomerang)

  • 560,000 professionals visit the LinkedIn homepage every day (Hubspot)

  • 41% of people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business from it (Hubspot)


The takeaway: LinkedIn has long been viewed as the networking platform for one person consultants and job seekers, but in reality the site is driving traffic and searches that make it a valuable destination for all small business owners. With a huge number of “solopreneurs” in the U.S., LinkedIn has become a good way to not only network but to market. And just like a standalone webpage, LinkedIn will pop up in organic searches for your business. Much like Facebook, you get as much out of it as you put in after a simple setup, with the ability to share content, make updates and gain contacts.

How are you using social media for your business? Do you put a lot of stock in survey data and take action as a result? What numbers stand out to you?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About this blog

Jason Keith has been working for and with small businesses in the New England area for more than 10 years, specifically small, micro businesses. Born and raised in Massachusetts and a former journalist, he provides a unique perspective on the issues facing small businesses locally and nationally.To reach him directly email jasonpkeith@gmail.com.

This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

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