A new study released by Constant Contact has found that social media use by SMBs is up, with greater numbers of businesses broadcasting updates and offers to their fans via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
According to the survey, Facebook is (unsurprisingly) the most popular platform, with 82% of the businesses saying they use it. According to Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact, this large majority for Facebook was expected, considering the features that the social platform now offers businesses.
“Facebook remains the dominant platform because it simply has more active users than any other social network,” Schmulen told Street Fight earlier this week. “It effectively offers marketers the biggest potential reach to engage with customers. In addition, Facebook is a more mature marketing platform, offering marketers highly targeted advertising products and customizable brand pages that enable them to run promotions like sweepstakes, coupons, and user-generated contests.”
The survey also found a large increase in use of Twitter and LinkedIn among SMBs. 29% of respondents said they used LinkedIn which is an increase of 19 percentage points from last year and 25% said they used Twitter for an increase of 18 percentage points.
Schmulen believes this increase is due not to changes in the various platforms’ technologies, but more to SMBs’ ability over time to adapt to using these tools. He said the percentage of SMBs who have successfully connected with consumers via social media has “increased significantly.”
“As SMBs gain more experience with social media, they learn what works and what doesn’t,” Schmulen said. “In essence, we are seeing a shift in the adoption curve from early adopters to early majority as more and more SMBs learn how to ‘cross the chasm.’”
While this rise in use is not surprising, and is in fact encouraging, LinkedIn did get four more percentage points then Twitter even though Twitter, especially for consumers, is a much more popular platform. Schmulen noted that the LinkedIn use is not for marketing purposes, but for SMBs to connect “with individuals around business-related subject matter.”
“While Facebook is a great platform for sharing everything from funny videos to deals, LinkedIn is the place people go to get business advice,” Schmulen said.
Another aspect of the survey looked at SMBs’ predictions for their revenue from mid-2012 versus now. In all areas, it seems SMBs’ profits did not meet their predictions, and of the 52% that said their revenue would increase only 38% found that to be true a year later. Schmulen said he believes this fall is from the “challenging economy.”
“As a result of those challenges, many SMBs have shifted their marketing efforts to social because they perceive it as a free alternative to traditional methods,” Schmulen said. “The most successful are those who have learned how to combine social as one of many important channels in an integrated marketing mix.”
Isa Jones is an editorial assistant at Street Fight.