Small Business Internet Marketing:
How do small businesses use social media and content marketing tools? It is hard to believe that is was only ten years ago that Facebook launched their business pages. They have made lots of changes to the product over the years, and small business owners have adjusted their strategy to take advantage of the changes.
At the same time, platforms like Stumble, Digg, Classmates.com, Foursquare, Snap, and Instagram, have fallen or risen with changes in tastes and technology. Blogs, email newsletters, and social advertising are now a significant part of the overall marketing mix for almost every small business.
While lots of data exists about how large companies are using these tools. we were curious about what small businesses were doing, how they were using internet marketing tools. So, we created a survey. Now in our eighth year, we have enough data to look back at the changes over time to understand where we are today.
Each year we add a few new questions, but many of the topics have been tracked consistently for eight years. Here are just a few of the highlights of the study.
In 2010 there was optimism that online marketing would solve every problem a small business owner faced if they simply participated, everywhere. In recent years, we have seen business owners take a much more realistic view, spending time and money in more focused activities and expecting less in return for their actions.
This has led to a decline in overall usage. Business owners are relying less on social media for business operations such as research, customer service, or distribution of surveys and product promotion.
Once considered a place to make connections and gather information this year we see declines in every category of social media use, with some of the most striking declines use for customer service, building professional networks and finding news.
Social Media as a Broadcast Tool
Business owners who have been paying attention to their metrics know that organic reach from social posts has declined as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have all beefed up their advertising offerings. In response, small businesses are reluctantly entering into online advertising.
Less than 1/3 of all businesses surveyed has spent or are planning on investing in advertising next year. While 41% are sure there will be no advertising anytime in the near future.
Where are they advertising?
For businesses who are investing, the clear choice is Facebook. The easy user interface, multiple segmentation options, and low cost of advertising has made this a steadily popular choice among small businesses with 66% indicating this is the tool they are most likely to use.
Among the other platforms, LinkedIn just barely passed Google Ad words for second place and we saw a jump in mentions for other sites, including Yelp, YP.com, and Houzz (included in the other category).