The practice of using social media to promote a business, known as social marketing, is now being used by nearly three-quarters of all small-business owners, according to a new survey from Constant Contact, a company that facilitates social marketing. But, the new media has not replaced old marketing methods. It has, instead, enhanced them.
The survey found that 73 percent of small businesses report using social media to market their business (and 81 percent of those companies plan to increase their efforts next year). Of those who are not currently using social media marketing, 62 percent expect to begin using social media marketing in the coming year.
The survey also reports that small businesses still rely heavily on email, website, and event marketing, as well as advertising, to drive business.
Of those doing social media marketing, 80 percent reported increasing their use in the past year. Among social media tools, Facebook is the tool of choice for small businesses: 95 percent of those using social media marketing reported using the tool and 82 percent of those found it to be effective. This is up significantly from a year ago when the same survey found that only 51 percent of small businesses found Facebook an effective marketing tool.
“The value proposition that social media marketing offers to small business makes it a no brainer for time- and resource-starved small businesses. They simply need coaching and know-how to use those tools in the best way possible,” said Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact. “Our assessment of this data is that more education will only improve small businesses’ results with social media marketing.”
With social media efforts growing, there has been no decline in the use of other marketing tools. The survey found that 91 percent of small businesses use email marketing, 95 percent use website marketing, 77 percent use print advertising, 69 percent use online advertising, and 53 percent use event marketing. These findings suggest that social media marketing is complementary and additive, rather than a replacement to more “traditional” marketing methods.
Respondents also reported that email marketing is the first, and most frequent, tool that small businesses turn to when trying to connect with current and prospective customers. Eighty-three percent report that email is the first tool they check when going online for their business each day and 72 percent check their email six or more times a day. In comparison, 13 percent check Facebook, 6 percent check news sites, and 4 percent check Twitter more than six times per day.
“We’ve seen our small-business customers improve their results by integrating tools, such as email marketing with social media marketing,” Goodman said. “Email is still the most obvious choice to make sure your message gets out, and social media puts that message in front of a wider audience. We like to say that email lights the fire, while social media fans the flames.”