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Small Businesses Are So-So About Social

Percentage of small businesses using social for business declines

April 14, 2015 | Social Media | SMB

Facebook and other social media sites ranked as the second most effective marketing method among US small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) surveyed in January 2015 by Thrive Analytics, but that doesn’t mean more are using it. Recent polling by Ebiquity for American Express OPEN found that small businesses generally hadn’t increased their social presence over the past year.

Social Media Channels Used by US Small Businesses, Fall 2012-Spring 2015 (% of respondents)

More than four in 10 US small businesses surveyed in February and March 2015 said they didn’t use social media for business. This was actually up slightly from 38% in fall 2014 and even with the percentage in spring 2014—during which responses dropped 8 percentage points from September 2013. December 2014 research by Zogby Analytics for Xero found a higher 48.2% of US small-business owners didn’t use any social media for business purposes.

Among American Express respondents using social, Facebook was king, cited by 41% overall—and in line with the 40.4% reported by Xero. However, the usage rate American Express found was down from its previous study. In fact, with the exception of Instagram, foursquare and Myspace—each of which didn’t even break 10%—all other social sites saw usage drop.

Thrive found that SMBs were most likely to keep social spending the same in 2015, and many just don’t have the resources to keep up. Fully 55% updated social media business content monthly or less frequently, while just 15% did so daily and 30% weekly. This means social followers they have—who often demand real-time, or close to real-time, info—are seeing out-of-date content. Outsourcing could help, but unfortunately, most haven’t taken advantage of this option: Just 25.7% of SMB marketing professionals polled worldwide in January 2015 by HubShout said they outsourced social media.

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