Small business owners are finding fewer and fewer reasons to avoid social media marketing, new research reveals.
In a survey from Constant Contact, a provider of engagement marketing tools, 81 percent of small businesses reported using social media to market their business, up from 73 percent just six months ago.
Those surveyed also reported an overall greater understanding of the reality that social media marketing need not be time-consuming or difficult — their largest concerns when surveyed last spring.
Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed said they are using social media tactics because it is easy to do, up 10 percent points from six months ago. Forty-five percent said their motivation was the fact that social media doesn't take up a lot of time, a 13-percentage point increase.
Additionally, 83 percent of respondents indicated that affordability was their deciding factor in using social media marketing .
While Facebook continues to be the social media outlet of choice for most business owners, the study found Twitter is quickly gaining ground. Over the last six months, the number of small businesses using Twitter grew 16 percent.
Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact, said small businesses continue to learn how social media marketing can help them grow their customer relationships.
"Just six months ago, they were learning the ropes and finding out what social media marketing tools were available," Schmulen said. "Now, they are beginning to understand more about what social media marketing can do for them."
Despite the growing popularity of social media as a marketing tool, small business owners aren't abandoning their tried-and-true traditional marketing tactics.
The survey found that 95 percent use email marketing, 98 percent use websites, 71 percent use print advertising, 66 percent use online advertising and 55 percent use event marketing. More than 80 percent of those surveyed said they still place great value on face-to-face interactions with their customers.
One platform small businesses seem to be avoiding is mobile devices, with more than 70 percent not having a mobile marketing plan and only 13 percent having created a mobile-friendly website .
The study was based on surveys of nearly 2,000 small business owners and employees across a range of business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries.