Did you know that the most widely used social media channel for small and midsize businesses are company pages on Facebook? Or that SMBs are ditching e-mail marketing in favor of social media advertising?Those are just two insights to come out of a social media study that the SMB Group is conducting along with CRMEssentials, a management consulting and advisory firm. Final results of the 2011 SMB Social Business Study are due out in mid-April. To find out exactly how SMBs are using and planning to use social media in their sales, marketing, customer service, product development, HR, and other efforts, the firms have surveyed 750 SMB decision-makers.
Here are some other preliminary tidbits gleaned from the study:
-Only 18% of SMBs surveyed are using free social media tools, such as TweetDeck and Google Alerts. Less than 3% use paid tools like Reputation Manager or Lithium.
-Among respondents, 16% have substituted social media marketing for other forms of advertising, including direct mail, the Yellow Pages, and newspapers. But it's not just traditional marketing methods that are being replaced; 22% of SMBs have replaced e-mail marketing with the social networking variety.
-32% of the study's SMBs say they have Facebook pages. Far fewer respondents use coupon services such as Groupon or Living Social, but among those that do, 50% rate them as "very beneficial."
-Social media accounts for about 8% of customer service and support interactions initiated across the SMB respondent base. That means social media has already equaled or surpassed live chat and self-service portals in the customer-service arena. In some SMB segments--specifically, companies that use social media in a strategic and structured way--social media is even more widely used for customer support. Among those respondents, 17% of customer service/support interactions are initiated via social media.
Stay tuned for the final data in about a month or so. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a quote from an SMB Group blog.
"SMBs that continue to think that Twitter is just for Charlie Sheen or that Facebook is only useful for Sarah Palin do so at their own peril," the blog reads. "SMBs that are tuned to relevant social media conversations and can effectively harness social media to respond will rapidly gain competitive advantages over those that drag their feet."