3 Things Small Businesses Need to Know About Social Media in 2011

We attended “State of the Social Media Marketing Industry” Webinar presented by Social Media Examiner and HubSpot this afternoon where the results of a new study of more than 3,300 marketers were shared. Tons of great statistics were presented about every aspect of social media, and it all was very relevant to small businesses – almost 80% of respondents are either self-employed, work for small a businesses, or own a business. 

In our opinion, here are the three key take-aways for small business owners:

Make Time for Social Media

The survey reports that:

  • Almost three-quarters of businesses plan to increase use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogging in 2011, and small businesses are investing heavily in social media. 
  • Those seeing the greatest benefit from social media are experienced in social media (3 years or more), investing at least 6 hours per week, and small business owners or self-employed people.
  • 58% of marketers use social media for 6+ hours each week and 34% for 11+ hours.

If you are not in the 73% that will be increasing their use of social media, chances are pretty high that your biggest competitor is.  Social media is no longer a nice-to-have – for most businesses, it’s a have-to-have, and, done correctly it will yield business results.

Social Media Delivers

With findings like this:

  • 88% of respondents said that social media has generated exposure for their business.
  • 72% have experienced increased traffic and subscribers.
  • 62% report improved search rankings.
  • 56% have created new business partnerships.
  • 51% generated qualified leads.
  • 49% reduced their marketing expenses.
  • 43% improved sales.
  • 72% of marketers who have been using social media for more than 3 years report it had helped them close business.
  • At least 65% of those investing a minimum of 6 hours per week in social media marketing saw improvements in search engine rankings.

It’s tough to make a case that social media doesn’t deliver business results.  As with most anything else in your business, it’s essential to have a solid strategy and plan to achieve set objectives.  Social media marketing is no different.  This is not the place for haphazard and inconsistent communications.  If you are relying on a marketing tactic like social media to deliver business results, you must have a clear and measurable plan before you start tweeting, blogging, or posting on Facebook.

Find the Right Place

If you own your own business and are wearing many different hats throughout the day, you just can’t be everywhere.  Identify the social media platforms where you are comfortable devoting the required time and energy, and that will yield the most return for your business.  The study reports that 92% of responding businesses are on Facebook, so that is a logical place to start.  84% are on Twitter, 71% on LinkedIn, 68% on YouTube or other video platform, and 56% blog.  If you don’t have adequate time to devote attention to all five of these areas, pick 2 or 3 that make the most sense for your business and develop a strategy for those.  If finding time for even that is a stretch, find help outside and consider outsourcing portions of your social media activities.  It’s important that your activity is authentic and truly represents your company, so this isn’t generally an area where you can outsource 100% and never have to think about it again.  But, with only 28% of companies outsourcing any part of social media, outside perspective could just be a competitive advantage for you.  Let us know if you want to talk about that.

If you want more of the statistics from the study, you can find them here (Julie on Twitter), here (OpenSpark on Twitter), and here (Twitter search).

If you attended the Webinar today, what was your greatest take-away?  For those that didn’t attend, what stands out the most among the information here?