Growing numbers of small businesses continue to adopt social marketing: 81% now report using social media channels to market their businesses, up from the 73% reported six months earlier, according to a survey from Constant Contact.

Among those now using social media channels, 65% say such tools complement other forms of marketing.

For example, asked which communications platforms are among the three most important when executing a campaign, small businesses cite email first (88%), followed by Facebook (56%), websites (53%), Twitter (29%), advertising (23%), and direct mail (22%).

Below, additional findings from The Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlook Survey by Constant Contact. 

Top Social Media Channels

Facebook (96%) is the top channel among small businesses that use social media, followed by Twitter (76%), LinkedIn (62%), and video-sharing sites (53%). The use of Google+ (30%) among small business social marketers has already surpassed MySpace use (19%).

In addition, roughly one-half (51%) of small businesses that use social media publish a blog. 

Among small businesses that use social media, 61% say their efforts overall are effective. Across various social media platforms, effectiveness appears to be improving:  

  • 60% of those using Twitter find it effective for marketing their business, up from 47% six months earlier (Constant Contact's Spring 2011 survey)
  • 55% of those using LinkedIn find that channel effective, up from 47%. 
  • 86% of those using Facebook find it effective, up from 82%. 

Reduced Barriers to Using Social Media Marketing

Small businesses are getting savvier with social media. Among those using social media, the perceived barriers to social media adoption have fallen:  

  • 83% of small businesses now say social media is a low cost marketing channel, up from 72% six months earlier.
  • 67% say social media is easy to use, up from 54%.
  • 51% say their customers use social media channels, up from 38%.
  • 45% say social media doesn't take a lot of time to use, up from 31%.

Engaging With Customers on Social Platforms

Fully six in ten (60%) of small businesses that use social media respond to all comments on social media platforms, whether those posts are positive or negative.

Those that don't respond report that they don't have time, they don't think it's necessary, or they don't know what to say, the study notes.

Mobile Marketing

Small businesses have not yet incorporated into their integrated marketing program is mobile: 72% report that they don't incorporate mobile into their marketing campaigns, and only 13% have created a mobile-optimized website.

Key Marketing Channels

Small businesses continue to use various platforms to marketing their businesses, including the following:  

  • Websites: 98%
  • Email marketing: 95%
  • Print advertising: 71%
  • Online advertising: 66%
  • Events marketing: 55% 

Face-to-Face Interactions

Although online tools are clear time and resource savers, small businesses also value face-to-face interactions:

  • 81% use face-to-face interactions to connect with current and prospective customers.
  • 62% plan to host an event in the next twelve months to connect with customers and prospects. 
  • 69% say events are an effective way to introduce consumers to their products and services or find new customers. 

About the data: This Constant Contact-sponsored survey was conducted among 1,972 small business owners and employees in October 2011. Respondents included B2B and B2C businesses, of which 87% are located in the US and 81% have 25 or fewer employees.

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Small Businesses Embracing Social Media With Integrated Approach

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