Small businesses are becoming more comfortable with social media marketing and are using it more when engaging with customers, according to the Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey from engagement marketing company Constant Contact. Of those using social media marketing, Facebook continues to be the tool of choice for small businesses: 96 percent report they use it. Of those, 86 percent find it an effective tool (up from 82 percent in the last seasonal study).
This survey was administered in October 2011 to 1,972 small business owners and employees. Of the respondents, 87 percent of are located in the US and 81 percent of these organizations have 25 or less employees.
In the last six months, small businesses using online marketing tools revealed a significant reduction in perceived barriers to adoption of social media, according to the survey. There is increased awareness that social media marketing need not be time-consuming or difficult, which were both obstacles reported in Constant Contact's Spring 2011 study.
Small businesses report allocating more time to social media marketing: 81 percent reported using it to advertise their businesses, up from 73 percent in the spring of 2011. When asked why:
83 percent said it is low cost (up from 72 percent).
67 percent said it is easy to use (up from 54 percent).
51 percent said their customers use social media channels (up from 38 percent).
45 percent said it didn't take a lot of time (up from 31 percent).
"Small business are still learning how social media marketing can help them grow their customer relationships," Mark Schmulen, general manager of social media at Constant Contact, said in a statement. "Just six months ago, they were learning the ropes and finding out what social media marketing tools were available. Now, they are beginning to understand more about what social media marketing can do for them."