I have looked recently at how some of the top 100 and the top 500 of corporate America are using Social Media, so this study by business.com is valuable as it takes a close look at the use of social media by small business (those with less than 100 employees).
The 1,711 small business decision makers surveyed all use at least one social media resource for business-relevant information. The overall average number of social media resources used by participants in this study is 5.9. This does not mean that the average North American small business decision maker uses nearly six different social media resources to get the information they need to do their jobs on a day-to-day basis. It does, however, suggest that small business decision makers who DO turn to social media resources for business information use, on average, nearly six different sources.
Among small business decision makers using social media for business information, the most frequently used resources were
- Webinars or podcasts (67%)
- Ratings/reviews of business products or services (63%)
- Visiting company/product profile pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (61%).
- Company Blogs at 53%
Small business decision makers find webinars and podcasts to be valuable resources for learning new skills and/or researching industries, products and services without the downsides of attending in-person seminars (travel time and expense, reluctance to walk-out of a seminar once the speaker has started).
The five top takeaways from the survey:
In general, companies interested in using social media to engage small business customers and prospects would be wise to:
- Develop educational webinars and/or podcasts which address specific small business needs in the process of introducing company products or services.
- Encourage, and carefully tend, online reviews of company products or services.
- Establish a presence on one or more major social networking sites and use this as a hub for corporate social media initiatives.
- Participate in more focused online discussions where it is easy to find and respond to questions specifically related to company products or services – such answering questions on Q&A sites like LinkedIn Answers or Business.com Answers, or in online business forums – rather than trying to work a promotional mention into discussions on 3rd party web sites and blogs.
- Further investigate how their target audience is using Twitter for business today and begin developing a Twitter strategy.
So for you, what is most valuable use of social media for your small business?