Social Media Fuels SMB Growth (Not for SMBs Only)

10 Key SMB Social Media Tips [Research- Chart]

Using social media for SMBsLooking to grow your small business?

Try social media.

Four out of five small businesses use social media for a variety of marketing objectives. Most small businesses tend to be resource constrained making low cost, easy-to-implement marketing a necessity.

Since one sixth of SMB firms are in hyper growth mode, most likely using growth hacking and lean startup processes, this number isn’t surprising.

2014 marketing budgets for these small businesses are up 10.7% from 2013 based on Borrell Associates findings.

According to Dun & Bradstreet 1.3 million small and medium businesses drive $5.5 trillion of North American revenue!

How SMBs use social media to fuel growth

To better understand how they used social media, LinkedIn and TNS surveyed financial decision makers at 998 of these SMBs that have annual revenues ranging from $1 million up to $49.9 million for their Priming the Economic Engine report.

Here are 5 major findings regarding how SMBs use social media to fuel growth:

  1. 81% of SMBs currently use social media for marketing purposes to engage with prospects and current customers, build their brand, influence buying decisions, make targeted offers, and provide customer service. 9% of SMBs plan to use social media in the future.
  2. 56% of SMBs increased social media spend in the past year.
  3. 61% of SMBs use social media to source new customers, the top SMB business challenge. Over 40% SMBs use social media to retain existing customers.
  4. 49% of SMBs use social media to learn from peers, experts and/or partners for better informed decisions.
  5. 37% of SMBs used social media to research and consider buying financial products.

 Actionable SMB Social Media Tip:

  • Use social media at all phases of the purchase process. Don’t limit yourself to top of the funnel activities only.
  • Take a lesson from Marcus Sheridan, the Sales Lion, “They ask you answer.” Answer your customers questions on social media.

Hyper-growth small businesses are more likely to use social media

Since hyper-growth SMBs are more likely to be growth hackers and lean companies, it’s logical that this SMB segment uses social media at a higher proportion than the average SMB and for a more diverse range of marketing activities.

  1. 73% of hyper-growth SMBs increased social media spend during the past year, more than any other marketing channel. But don’t overlook email marketing.
  2. 90% of hyper-growth SMBs use social media for branding.
  3. 89% of hyper-growth SMBs use social media to distribute content marketing.
  4. 88% of hyper-growth SMBs use social media to generate word of mouth buzz.
  5. 82% of hyper-growth SMBs use social media advertising to generate leads.

SOcial media followed by email used by hyper growth firms. Actionable SMB Social Media Tip:

  • Maximize social media to distribute your content marketing more broadly. Plan your social media sharing over time to maximize results.
  • Incorporate social sharing into your content as well as via buttons. Don’t overlook the fact that some readers will print your social media content out.
  • Build a community on different social media platforms to support your marketing. Leverage your communities to help spread your message.

Targeting SMBs? They trust social media platforms for information

As customers, SMB often need to reduce research and decision making time. To do so, they turn to social media because, as Jay Baer of Convince and Convert often says: business customers apply their knowledge from what they do as consumers.

  • 57% of SMBs trust information on LinkedIn. 
  • 49% of SMBs trust information on Google+.
  • 47% of SMBs trust information on Facebook.
  • 47% of SMBs trust information on Twitter.

LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, twitter, Yelp and Hyper growth SMBs

Since LinkedIn is known as a professional network, it’s no surprise that it ranks top for business information. This is directionally consistent with 2013’s Inc 500 research from UMass Dartmouth.

Interestingly Google+, Facebook and Twitter are closely ranked.

Actionable SMB Social Media Tip:

  • Make your information available on one or more social media platforms when targeting small businesses, especially hyper-growth companies. Don’t assume that your audience all uses the same platform.
  • Differentiate your social media postings on different networks. Take the time to craft different posts that resonate with your audience on the various platforms. Where possible include a photo or graphic to attract more attention.

Content marketing fuels social media activity

To reach SMBs on social media, you must provide the content they actively seek.

  • 79% of SMBs seek industry specific news and articles.
  • 74% of SMBs seek testimonials, reviews and comments from current customers. This is one of the core components of purchase decision making for both B2C and B2B.
  • 70% of SMBs seek testimonials, reviews and comments from experts. For business decisions, small businesses don’t have the depth of experience or time to examine every feature. Therefore, they’re likely to see what thought leaders are saying.
  • 67% of SMBs seek best practices guides from other companies.
  • 66% of SMBs seek news about other companies.

Yet SMB’s total information needs aren’t met. There’s a sizeable gap between what they want and what they can find.

  • 29% of SMBs sought but didn’t get best practices, how-to-guides and checklists.
  • 22% of SMBs sought but didn’t get information on new innovation and technology developments.
  • 21% of SMBs sought but didn’t get information on new product developments.
  • 20% of SMBs sought but didn’t get information on company background. Really? This is should be a no brainer. Yet I’ve tried to get basic information such as a phone number to connect with a human in real time and found that there was none.  This begs the question of how a business can attract customers.
  • 16% of SMBs sought but didn’t get information on industry news, strategy and information.

SMB information expected on social media but not available-LinkedIn research-Febraury 2014-1-1Actionable SMB Social Media Tip:

  • Provide information your target audience seeks via social media. Don’t overlook the basics—product information, how-tos, customer ratings and reviews, and styling.
  • Provide your company contact information across all online media platforms including mobile. For social media this means including your URL, physical address, phone number and email address. Realize that your prospect may be on the go. Further they may use different means of contact.  
  • Curate relevant information in your niche. This is particularly important if you’re targeting small businesses that may not have enough time to stay abreast of the latest news and trends.

When it comes to small businesses, social media use goes both ways. Both those in small businesses use social media to reach their target audience and those wishing to target small businesses find them on social media.

What has your experience been using social media as a small business or trying to reach a small business on social media?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

PS – All references are from LinkedIn Priming the Economic Engine.



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