Small businesses, while not yet at the usage levels of their larger counterparts, are warming up to social media marketing, according to a fall 2010 survey from small-business marketing firm Constant Contact.
The businesses surveyed overwhelmingly considered word-of-mouth the most important marketing tactic for finding new customers, but that figure includes discussions that take place both online and offline. Websites and email marketing followed as the only other tactics a majority of small businesses said were “very important.”
Overall, websites and email were rated the most important marketing tool for business promotion, with more than nine in 10 small businesses surveyed citing both. Facebook took a distant third, at 63%, but that was up from 50.5% in a March 2010 survey from Constant Contact. Twitter’s importance was rated relatively low, at just 31%, but that too was up from March (25.6%).
Among larger businesses, social media tends to play a larger role. A June 2010 survey of US online marketers from email marketing firm Lyris also found email and company websites were the top marketing tactics used—each by more than 95% of respondents—but social media clocked in at 82%, significantly higher than Facebook’s rating in the small-business survey.
“Small businesses are also slower to adopt social media, in part because many of them lack a strong web presence to begin with,” wrote Debra Aho Williamson in the December 2010 eMarketer report “Social Media in the Marketing Mix: Budgeting for 2011.”
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