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

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