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SMBs and Social Media: Follower Engagement, Top Channels, Budgets, Use Levels


Does the size of a social media following matter? Although two in three SMBs (67%) say they favor quality over quantity, including a plurality (40%) who prefer very engaged followers, more than one in four (27%) SMBs place more importance on the number of followers than engagement level, according to a survey from Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing:

Below, additional findings from the report titled "Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media," by Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing.

Larger SMBs are more likely to favor a larger following: 34% of those with annual sales of more than $20 million prefer large follower bases regardless of interaction levels, compared with only 13% of those with sales from $5 million to $20 million.

B2B organizations, and those that market to the government (B2G), tend to favor a smaller yet highly engaged audience, whereas B2C organizations are split between the desire for large social media followings and engagement.

Value of Social

Most (87%) SMBs say social media is somewhat (58%) or very helpful (29%) to their organization; one in ten (10%) say social has no effect at all.

Interestingly, SMBs that are aiming to build a large but unengaged base are most likely to say social media is very helpful: 55% say so. By contrast, those focused on engagement are more likely to say social media is somewhat helpful: 68% do so.

Some 40% of SMBs in the B2C category, the segment most focused on building a large even if unengaged following, are most likely to find social media very helpful.

Top Social Marketing Activities

Among SMBs, sharing news about the organization or products and services (91% and 90%, respectively) are the most popular ways to use social media. Some 70% use social channels to improve search engine results; however, only 46% use social media for customer service issues.

SMBs in the B2C space are about 11% more likely than B2Bs to promote blog content via social channels (87% vs. 78%) and 13% more likely to advertise promos (77% vs. 68%).

Top Channels

Among SMBs, Facebook is the most widely adopted social site (73%), followed by LinkedIn (61%), Twitter (55%), YouTube (47%), and Google+ (44%). MySpace has nearly as many current users (20%) as past users (19%), though the site still has a strong base in music and arts.

Over the next year, SMBs are planning to add a few key sites to their social portfolios; the following five top the list:

  1. Google Plus: 14%
  2. Instagram: 14%
  3. Pinterest: 13%
  4. Reddit: 12%
  5. Tumblr: 12%

Facebook has reached near saturation with only 7% of SMBs planning to adopt that site over the next year, while another 9% plan to use LinkedIn.

The study also polled SMBs on their social media budgets:

  • 77% say social media accounts for 25% or more of their total marketing efforts.
  • 36% spend a median amount of $845 a month on software tools for social media management ; however 32% of that group also spends a $1,000 or more per month.
  • 84% plan to increase their use of social media at least a little in the future.

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 400 small and midsize businesses, July 18-28, 2012. Organizations had annual revenues between $5 and $50 million, all with 1,000 employees or fewer.

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  • by Rishi Tue Sep 18, 2012 via web

    I would just like to add that entering/adopting certain social media platforms really depends on the kind of business you are. For example, B2B-focused companies should be focusing their efforts on such platforms as LinkedIn, Slideshare, and Twitter; while B2C companies may want to focus more on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter among others. Target the right platforms first and your audience will find you :) For more social media cheat sheets, check out or tips and tricks at

  • by Steve Lubahn Tue Sep 18, 2012 via web

    I like the sections of this article on current and past use of social media, and also the predicted top five platforms for growth.

    Also good insights on push vs pull use of social media to interact with customers

  • by Rachel Agheyisi Tue Sep 18, 2012 via web

    So, what does the survey REALLY say about the value of social??? I see the %tages, but I'm not sure if they really indicate VALUE. For example, why would any enterprise (SMB or not) spend resources building large but unengaged followership, and indicate that social media is very helpful??? I'm not quite getting it. Maybe there's more in the full survey report --hmmm.

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