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Engaging Small Business in Social Media

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Top Social Media Resources for Business Information ...

Top Social Media Resources for Business Information
In this study, we provided respondents with a list of different types of social media resources and asked them to indicate which, if any, they currently use to get the information and resources they need to do their jobs. The figure below shows the percentage of small business decision maker respondents by the total number of social media resources for business information they indicated using.

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Engaging Small Business in  Social Media Engaging Small Business in Social Media Document Transcript

  • Engaging Small Business Decision Makers Through Social Media How Small Business Decision Makers Utilize Social Media as a Resource for Business Information, with Implications for Improving Marketing to Small Business A 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study Report By Ben Hanna, Ph.D. VP, Marketing R.H. Donnelley Interactive December 7, 2009 Share this Report:© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Engaging Small Business Decision Makers Through Social Media Contents List of Figures ............................................................................................................................ 2 RESEARCH REPORT Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 3 Results Summary .................................................................................................................. 3 A Request when Referencing or Sharing this Study ............................................................. 4 Top Social Media Resources for Business Information ............................................................ 5 Top Business Social Media Resources by Industry .................................................................. 9 Advertising & Marketing Industry......................................................................................... 10 Automotive Industry ............................................................................................................. 11 Computers & Software Industry .......................................................................................... 12 Financial Services Industry ................................................................................................. 13 Food & Beverage Industry ................................................................................................... 14 Healthcare Industry ............................................................................................................. 15 Industrial Goods & Services Industry .................................................................................. 16 Internet & Online Industry .................................................................................................... 17 Legal Industry ...................................................................................................................... 18 Media & Entertainment Industry .......................................................................................... 19 Real Estate & Construction Industry ................................................................................... 20 Retail Industry...................................................................................................................... 21 Top Business Social Media Resources by Company Size ..................................................... 22 Top Business Social Media Resources by Job Level ............................................................. 24 Top Business Social Media Resources by Job Role .............................................................. 26 Business Social Media Usage at B2B vs. B2C Companies.................................................... 26 Predicting How Your Target Audience will Use Social Media for Business in the Future ...... 29 Additional Reports Based on this Research ........................................................................... 34 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study ............................................................. 34 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study ..................................................................... 34 Engaging Small Business Decision Makers Through Social Media .................................... 34 Upcoming Reports ............................................................................................................... 34 About the Study....................................................................................................................... 35 Contact .................................................................................................................................... 39 More Resources from Business.com… .................................................................................. 40© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 1
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media List of Figures Figure 1: Number of Social Media Resources Used for Business Information ......................... 5 Figure 2: Top Business Social Media Resources for Small Business Decision Makers .......... 6 Figure 3: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Industry ............................... 9 Figure 4: Social Media Use for Business – Advertising & Marketing Industry ........................ 10 Figure 5: Social Media Use for Business – Automotive Industry ............................................ 11 Figure 6: Social Media Use for Business – Computers & Software Industry.......................... 12 Figure 7: Social Media Use for Business – Financial Services Industry................................. 13 RESEARCH REPORT Figure 8: Social Media Use for Business – Food & Beverage Industry .................................. 14 Figure 9: Social Media Use for Business – Healthcare Industry ............................................ 15 Figure 10: Social Media Use for Business – Industrial Goods & Services Industry ............... 16 Figure 11: Social Media Use for Business – Internet & Online Industry ................................. 17 Figure 12: Social Media Use for Business – Legal Industry ................................................... 18 Figure 13: Social Media Use for Business – Media & Entertainment Industry ....................... 19 Figure 14: Social Media Use for Business – Real Estate & Construction Industry ................ 20 Figure 15: Social Media Use for Business – Retail Industry ................................................... 21 Figure 16: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Company Size ................. 22 Figure 17: Significant Differences in Business Social Media Usage by Company Size ......... 23 Figure 18: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business (10-99 Employees) Job Level ............................................................................................................. 24 Figure 19: Use of Social Media Resources for Business Information – By Small Business (10- 99 Employees) Decision Maker Job Level .............................................................................. 25 Figure 20: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business Decision Makers by Company Type ...................................................................................................... 27 Figure 21: Use of Social Media Resources for Business Information – Small Business Decision Makers by Company Type ....................................................................................... 28 Figure 22: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business Decision Makers by Business Social Media Experience ....................................................................... 30 Figure 23: Social Media Resources where Usage Increases with Overall Experience with Business Social Media ............................................................................................................ 31 Figure 24: Social Media Resources where Usage Increases then Drops with Overall Experience with Business Social Media ................................................................................. 32 Figure 25: Percentage of Small Business Decision Makers by Industry with <1 Year of Experience with Business Social Media Initiatives ................................................................. 33 Figure 26: Study Participants by Company Size .................................................................... 35 Figure 27: Study Participants by Industry ............................................................................... 36 Figure 28: Study Participants by Job Role .............................................................................. 36 Figure 29: Study Participants by Job Level............................................................................. 37 Figure 30: Study Participants by Company Type ................................................................... 37 Figure 31: Study Participants by Company Product / Service Focus ..................................... 38 Figure 32: Study Participants by Primary Customer Location ................................................ 38© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 2
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Introduction What are the most effective social media channels through which to reach small business decision makers? This is the key question we address in this companion report to Business.com’s 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study. Based on our sample of 1,711 small business decision makers currently using one or more social media resources to find business-relevant information, this report provides solid benchmark data to help improve RESEARCH REPORT marketing to small business while addressing the following questions: • According to small business decision makers, what are the most popular, and most useful, social media resources for business information? • Are there significant differences in business social media usage across industries, job roles and/or company type (B2C vs. B2B)? As with other reports in this series, it is important to clarify at the outset that all study participants already use social media for business. Given mounting evidence that social media usage is quickly becoming mainstream – for example, 46% of US adults now 1 participate in social networks, and a quarter do so weekly – the most important questions revolve around how social media is being used for business, not if it is being used. Results Summary The following provide a brief overview of some of the key findings and insights in this report: • The report is based on survey results from 1,711 small company (<100 employees) participants in a middle management (Director, Department Head, Supervisor) or above role in their companies • All respondents currently use one or more social media resources for business- relevant information in their day-to-day job (i.e., all results should be interpreted as “among those using social media for business…” rather than “across all businesses…”) • The most popular social media resources small business decision makers turn to for business are webinars and podcasts, user ratings and reviews of business products and services, and business profiles (accounts, fan pages, channels, etc.) on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites. • The convenience and speed with which small business decision makers can find business-relevant information is what attracts them to social media resources. For example, webinars save the time and expense of travel for professional education. • Small business decision makers in the Internet & Online, Advertising & Marketing and Computers & Software industries use significantly more social media resources for business than study respondents from other industries 1 Lenhart, Amanda. The Democratization of Online Social Networks. Pew Internet & American Life Project, October 8, 2009, http://www.pewinternet.org/Presentations/2009/41--The-Democratization-of-Online-Social-Networks.aspx.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 3
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media • Small business decision makers in the Healthcare, Retail and Legal industries use significantly fewer social media resources for business than study respondents from other industries • Across sole proprietors, micro businesses (1-9 employees) and small businesses (10-99 employees), company size has little meaningful impact on the use of social media resources for business information • Looking specifically at small businesses with 10-99 employees, members of the RESEARCH REPORT senior management team (EVP, SVP, VP, GM) are significantly more likely to use webinars and podcasts, and to ask questions on Q&A sites, than either middle managers or C-level execs. On the other hand, C-level execs are significantly less likely to visit company blogs and use Twitter to find or request business-relevant information than senior or middle managers. • Job role/department is not strongly related to the use of social media for business among small business decision makers • Small business decision makers at business-to-business (B2B) companies use both significantly more social media resources for business than their business-to- consumer (B2C) colleagues and, with a single exception (reading ratings and reviews of business products and services) are significantly more likely to use each of the business social media resources investigated in this study. • A cross-sectional look at business social media usage by small business decision makers with different degrees of experience using social media provides insights into how social media usage is likely to evolve in the future. A Request when Referencing or Sharing this Study A good benchmarking study should generate significant discussion and debate, and we hope that many of you will discuss one or more insights from this study in your own blog, web site, publication, conference presentation and/or in other forums. Since this research took considerable time and effort to produce – it is, after all, the largest study of business social media use within North American companies to date – we have two simple requests: 1. Please use the following when referencing this report: Source: Engaging Small Business Decision Makers through Social Media: A 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study Report. Business.com, December 7, 2009, http://www.business.com/info/engaging-small-business- through-social-media. 2. Provide your readers with a link to http://www.business.com/info/engaging-small- business-through-social-media where they can download their own copy of the report. Do not link to your own copy of the PDF stored on your own web site or other content sharing sites like SlideShare. While we understand the spirit of open content, the brief registration required to access the study is not particularly onerous or invasive, and also provides people interested in the study with the opportunity to indicate their interest in participating in future Business.com studies about other online marketing topics. Help us continue to offer top quality research at no cost by linking to the report download page.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 4
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Top Social Media Resources for Business Information In this study, we provided respondents with a list of different types of social media resources and asked them to indicate which, if any, they currently use to get the information and resources they need to do their jobs. The figure below shows the percentage of small business decision maker respondents by the total number of social media resources for business information they indicated using. Here, and throughout the rest of this report, it is important to keep in mind that there is no “0” RESEARCH REPORT on the scale below – the 1,711 small business decision makers we profile here all use at least one social media resource for business-relevant information. The overall average number of social media resources used by participants in this study is 5.9. This does not mean that the average North American small business decision maker uses nearly six different social media resources to get the information they need to do their jobs on a day-to- day basis. It does, however, suggest that small business decision makers who DO turn to social media resources for business information use, on average, nearly six different sources. Figure 1: Number of Social Media Resources Used for Business Information Among small business decision makers using social media for business information, the most frequently used resources were webinars or podcasts (67%) followed by ratings/reviews of business products or services (63%) and visiting company/product profile pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (61%).© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 5
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 2: Top Business Social Media Resources for Small Business Decision Makers RESEARCH REPORT Small business decision makers find webinars and podcasts to be valuable resources for learning new skills and/or researching industries, products and services without the downsides of attending in-person seminars (travel time and expense, reluctance to walk-out of a seminar once the speaker has started). For example:© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 6
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media “The most useful social media resource is the webinars. I feel that they offer the most, dont demand that I travel, spend a lot of money, or even make a huge commitment of time. They are usually well focused on a topic and therefore dont waste my time with a lot of unrelated topics. If I dont find them useful or on point I can quit and dont have to walk out on a speaker.” Sr. Management (EVP, VP, SVP, GM) RESEARCH REPORT 10-19 Employee Company Agriculture Industry Webinars are also very convenient for professionals in rapidly changing or evolving industries where ongoing training is essential. A C-level executive from a Financial Services company explained why webinars are the most useful social media resource for business: “Tax law is ever changing so we rely on webinars and other instant media to update us on the latest changes in tax accounting. Social media is critical to our industry.” C-Level (CEO, CFO, President) 20-49 Employee Company Financial Services Industry The second most popular social media resource small business decision makers turn to is ratings and reviews of products/services they may need for their business. Mentioned by 63% of respondents. From reading business book reviews on Amazon.com to qualifying potential products to resell through user ratings, online ratings and reviews provide valuable input into the business buying process as long as these “sound honest and not like someone just put them up there to make the company sound good” (Owner, 1-4 employee retail business). On the other hand, small business decision makers seeking business-relevant information through social media channels were least likely to use Twitter to find or request business- related information (27%, although 53% search social media sites more generally), save business-related links on social bookmarking sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon or other rd (27%), and participate in discussions on 3 party web sites (29%). Although Twitter fell to the bottom of the list of most used social media resources for business, those actually using Twitter in this way are very positive about the business value. We asked study participants to tell us about the MOST useful social media resource they’ve found for business and Twitter topped this write-in list with small business decision makers praising the ability to get quick feedback and access relevant business information. For example: “On Twitter, the people I follow provide me with more relevant links and information than any other tool. It saves me time and helps me learn about new technologies or innovative ideas, as they are happening.” C-Level (CEO, CFO, President) 1-4 Employee Company Internet Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 7
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Or the following, from a member of the senior management team at a company in the financial services industry: “Twitter provides a quick connection to relevant businesses and individuals who often provide helpful links to pertinent resources, articles, and blog posts.” Sr. Management (EVP, VP, SVP, GM) 20-49 Employee Company Financial Services Industry RESEARCH REPORT In general, companies interested in using social media to engage small business customers and prospects would be wise to: • Develop educational webinars and/or podcasts which address specific small business needs in the process of introducing company products or services. • Encourage, and carefully tend, online reviews of company products or services. • Establish a presence on one or more major social networking sites and use this as a hub for corporate social media initiatives. • Participate in more focused online discussions where it is easy to find and respond to questions specifically related to company products or services – such answering questions on Q&A sites like LinkedIn Answers or Business.com Answers, or in online business forums – rather than trying to work a promotional mention into discussions rd on 3 party web sites and blogs. • Further investigate how their target audience is using Twitter for business today and begin developing a Twitter strategy. This is far from the end of the story, however. In the following sections we explore differences in the use of social media for business information by company size, industry, job level and job role to help companies targeting small business decision makers improve their social media strategies.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 8
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Top Business Social Media Resources by Industry The small business decision makers in this study differ across industries in their use of social media as a resource for business information. In this section, we explore these differences to provide the business social media usage benchmark information necessary to effectively customize social media strategies to the unique preferences of small business decision makers in twelve different industries. To begin with, small business decision makers in the Internet & Online, Advertising & RESEARCH REPORT Marketing and Computers & Software industries use a significantly greater number of social media web sites/resources than the average of those in other industries. Study participants in the Healthcare, Retail and Legal industries, however, use significantly fewer social media sites/resources for business information. Figure 3: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 9
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Advertising & Marketing Industry As we saw in the chart above, small business decision makers in the Advertising & Marketing industry draw on a broader array of social media resources for business information than the average of those in other industries. The chart below, showing the percentage of small business decision makers in the Advertising & Marketing industry using each resource vs. the percentage from other industries, reinforces this point – with the exception of ratings and reviews, respondents from this industry are significantly more likely to use every one of the listed social media sites/resources than the combined average of other industries. RESEARCH REPORT Figure 4: Social Media Use for Business – Advertising & Marketing Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 10
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Automotive Industry Small business decision makers working in the Automotive industry show the greatest preference for reading online ratings & reviews followed by downloading business-related content from content sharing sites. In general, however, their use of different social media resources for business information is similar to the average of respondents working in other industries, with one exception – Automotive industry respondents were significantly less likely to attend webinars or listen to podcasts. Figure 5: Social Media Use for Business – Automotive Industry RESEARCH REPORT© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 11
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Computers & Software Industry Small business decision makers from this industry are significantly more likely to visit company blogs, subscribe to RSS feeds of business-related news or information sites and participate in online business-related discussions. In fact, visiting company blogs is the second most used business social media resource for those in the Computers & Software industry, up from the fourth ranked resource across all respondents. Companies marketing to small business decision makers in this industry should focus on establishing an informative, engaging company blog if they haven’t done so already. RESEARCH REPORT Figure 6: Social Media Use for Business – Computers & Software Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 12
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Financial Services Industry Small business decision makers in the Financial Services industry are much more likely to attend webinars or listen to podcasts than the average of study participants from other industries. As described in the opening section of this report, the ongoing professional education requirements in this industry make webinars/podcasts very useful and cost- effective for this audience. On the other hand, respondents from this industry are significantly LESS likely to visit company/product profile pages on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter than respondents from other industries implying that a solid company presence on major social networking sites is less important for companies targeting small business RESEARCH REPORT decision makers in the Financial services industry. Figure 7: Social Media Use for Business – Financial Services Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 13
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Food & Beverage Industry Study participants working in the Food & Beverage industry are average in the total number of social media resources they draw on for business information but do show several significant differences from those outside this industry. Specifically, small business decision makers in the Food & Beverage industry are significantly more likely to read online user ratings and reviews of business products or services – the most used resource for those in this industry – and are also significantly more likely to search social media sites for business- relevant information. Webinars and podcasts, however, are significantly less likely to be used by respondents from this industry. RESEARCH REPORT Figure 8: Social Media Use for Business – Food & Beverage Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 14
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Healthcare Industry Business decision makers from small companies in the Healthcare industry turn use fewer social media resources for business information than the average for other industries. While respondents from this industry were significantly more likely to attend webinars or listen to podcasts than those from other industries, they are significantly less likely read or download business-related content from content sharing sites, visit company blogs, subscribe to RSS feeds, save business-related links on social bookmarking sites and use Twitter to find or request business-related information. RESEARCH REPORT The use of social media for business information is relatively nascent in this industry, suggesting a basic social media strategy focused on webinars, podcasts, facilitating online product reviews and establishing a basic company presence on leading social networking sites will be sufficient for attracting the target Healthcare audience. Figure 9: Social Media Use for Business – Healthcare Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 15
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Industrial Goods & Services Industry When it comes to using social media as a resource for business information, small business decision makers in the Industrial Goods & Services industry are no different from the average across all other industries. While a higher percentage of respondents from this industry reported reading user ratings and reviews for business products and services, visiting company/product profiles on social networking sites, and visiting company blogs than the overall top activity (attending webinars or listening to podcasts), these were not significant differences from the average respondent. RESEARCH REPORT Figure 10: Social Media Use for Business – Industrial Goods & Services Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 16
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Internet & Online Industry Study participants working for companies primarily doing business online showed the highest average number of social media resources used for business information (8.5 out of a possible 13) – not all that surprising given that these respondents are likely to be highly experienced with a broad range of online activities and technologies. While respondents from this industry are significantly more likely to use almost all of the social media resources for business information covered in this study, the fact that they’re much more likely to engage in more participatory social media activities for business (e.g., RESEARCH REPORT online business communities and forums, using Twitter to find or request business information, etc.) is of particular interest. Figure 11: Social Media Use for Business – Internet & Online Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 17
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Legal Industry Small business decision makers in the Legal industry had the lowest average number of social media resources used for business across the industries studied. In particular, respondents in this industry were significantly less likely to seek-out business-relevant information from company/product profile pages on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, search for business-relevant information on social media sites, ask questions on Q&A sites and save business-related links on social bookmarking sites. Figure 12: Social Media Use for Business – Legal Industry RESEARCH REPORT© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 18
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Media & Entertainment Industry When developing social media strategies to engage small business decision makers in the Media & Entertainment industry, using the general guidelines discussed in the first section of this report to prioritize initiatives is the best approach – respondents from this industry closely mirror average use of social media for business information with no significant differences from the norm. Figure 13: Social Media Use for Business – Media & Entertainment Industry RESEARCH REPORT© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 19
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Real Estate & Construction Industry Small business decision makers in the Real Estate & Construction industry are largely similar to those from other industries in their use of social media resources for business information. However, they are significantly less likely to attend webinars or listen to podcasts, and also less likely to use Twitter to find or request business-related information. On the other hand, they are significantly more likely to read or download business-related content from content sharing sites than their peers in other industries. Figure 14: Social Media Use for Business – Real Estate & Construction Industry RESEARCH REPORT© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 20
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Retail Industry The Retail industry small business decision makers in this study used the second lowest number of social media resources for business information, significantly below the overall study average. More specifically, Retail industry respondents are significantly less likely to view webinars or listen to podcasts (although these are still the second most popular social media resource for this audience), read or download business-related content from content sharing sites, search social media sites for business-related information, use RSS feeds and participate in discussions on third-party web sites. RESEARCH REPORT Figure 15: Social Media Use for Business – Retail Industry© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 21
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Top Business Social Media Resources by Company Size The small business decision makers in this study did not differ in the number of social media resources used for business, as shown in the chart below. Figure 16: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Company Size RESEARCH REPORT As the chart on the following page shows, however, there were several significant differences in the use of individual social media resources. Specifically, a significantly higher proportion of decision makers from small companies (10-99 employees) view webinars or listen to podcasts, visit company blogs and subscribe to RSS feeds of business-relevant information. Respondents from this size company are also more likely to use Twitter to find business- relevant information than respondents from micro businesses (1-9 employees), but not more than sole proprietors.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 22
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 17: Significant Differences in Business Social Media Usage by Company Size RESEARCH REPORT Despite these differences, the relative order of the most popular business social media resources overall is unchanged, suggesting company size has little meaningful impact on social media use across sole proprietors, micro and small business decision makers.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 23
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Top Business Social Media Resources by Job Level In a prior report (the 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study), we described some slight differences in business social media usage by senior management members in small vs. mid- to large-sized companies – specifically, that senior management members in mid- to large- sized companies are significantly more likely to use RSS feeds for business-relevant information and use Twitter to find or request business-related information than their small company peers. RESEARCH REPORT For this report, we looked specifically at respondents from companies with 10-99 employees where job levels exist in a more meaningful way than for micro-businesses and sole proprietors. Unlike the results we saw earlier for industry, there are no significant differences in the number of social media resources used by job level for this group of respondents. Figure 18: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business (10-99 Employees) Job Level Similar to the findings for company size, significant differences did appear when looking at the use of specific social media resources for business across job levels as shown in the chart on the next page. Members of the senior management team (EVP, SVP, VP, GM) are significantly more likely to use webinars and podcasts, and to ask questions on Q&A sites, than either middle managers or C-level execs. On the other hand, C-level execs are significantly less likely to visit company blogs and use Twitter to find or request business- relevant information than senior or middle managers.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 24
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 19: Use of Social Media Resources for Business Information – By Small Business (10-99 Employees) Decision Maker Job Level RESEARCH REPORT© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 25
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Top Business Social Media Resources by Job Role Similar to job level, job role is not always a clear-cut concept for sole proprietors and micro businesses. For example, in a four person marketing agency, does the agency head consider themselves to be Senior/Corporate Management, Consulting, Marketing or Sales? Restricting our analysis to the small business (10-99 employees) group where job role is somewhat more meaningful, the only important difference worth highlighting is an obvious one at this point – those working in Marketing or Corporate Communications use significantly RESEARCH REPORT more social media resources for business than their colleagues in other roles (6.9 vs. 5.8 for those in other roles). If you would like more details about the differences in business social media usage by job role across a broader range of company sizes than we cover in this report, please download our 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study report from the Business.com site at http://www.business.com/info/b2b-social-media-benchmark-study. Business Social Media Usage at B2B vs. B2C Companies We provided very extensive coverage of the differences in corporate social media initiatives between business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) companies in the 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmark Study report mentioned in the prior section. In that report, we categorized a company as B2B if more than two-thirds of company revenue came from sales to other businesses. The bottom line is that, with some small exceptions, B2B companies are much more active with corporate social media initiatives today than their B2C counterparts. Given this, we might expect B2B small business decision makers to have more experience managing business social media initiatives, and perhaps be more likely themselves to turn to social media resources for business information they need. The former is not true – B2B company participants in this study are no more experienced with participating in or managing business social media initiatives than respondents from B2C companies – but the latter is most definitely true, as you’ll see in the next two charts. B2B small business decision makers in this study used an average of 7.2 different social media resources for business versus an average of 5.5 for their B2C colleagues. Respondents from companies with mixed revenue (no more than two-thirds of revenue from sales to either consumers or businesses) used an average of 6.1 different resources.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 26
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 20: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business Decision Makers by Company Type RESEARCH REPORT With a single exception, reading ratings and reviews of business products and services, small business decision makers at B2B companies have a higher percentage of respondents using each of the business social media resources than their B2C counterparts as you can see from the chart on the following page.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 27
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 21: Use of Social Media Resources for Business Information – Small Business Decision Makers by Company Type RESEARCH REPORT Why are small business decision makers at B2B companies so much more active users of social media resources for business than B2C companies? It’s not clear at this point and we’ll have to investigate this issue in more detail.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 28
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Predicting How Your Target Audience will Use Social Media for Business in the Future In this report we’ve shown that the number and types of social media resources used for business information by small business decision makers vary by industry, company size, job level and, to some extent, job role. By looking at the number and types of social media resources used by small business decision makers with different levels of business social media experience (in the form of years of experience managing or working on company social media initiatives), we can also gain insight into how the use of social media as a RESEARCH REPORT business information resource is likely to evolve. Understanding the types of social media resources most attractive to small business decision makers when they first dip a toe in the social media waters, and the other types of resources they tend to start using over time, is particularly important for companies targeting customers in industries where social media is relatively nascent, such as the Legal, Retail and Healthcare. While relatively limited social media initiatives may capture the attention of potential customers in those industries at this point, customers will evolve in their use of social media resources for business and companies will need to evolve their social media programs with their target audience or face the possibility of competitors dominating these “new” social media channels. The chart below shows that the number of social media resources used for business information is: • Significantly higher with 1-2 years of business social media experience than with less than one year of experience • Not significantly different between one and six years of experience • Significantly lower with seven or more years of experience than with one to six years, but still significantly higher than those with under one year of experience Its very likely that the social media pros with seven or more years of experience with business social media initiatives found the social media resources that worked for them long ago and are more reticent than pure business social media “newbies” or those with moderate experience to try and/or participate in additional social media channels.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 29
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 22: Average Number of Social Media Resources Used by Small Business Decision Makers by Business Social Media Experience RESEARCH REPORT Digging into the use of specific social media resources for business, ratings and reviews for business products and services is the only social media resource in this study where there is not a significant change in usage related to experience with business social media. As you’ll see in the chart below, the majority of business social media resources show significant, increasing usage with experience. While you’ll notice that in many cases usage drops in the group of small business decision makers with seven or more years of business social media experience, this group still shows higher usage than the group of small business decision makers with less than one year of experience. It may not be obvious at first glance, but the overall trend is still linear.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 30
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 23: Social Media Resources where Usage Increases with Overall Experience with Business Social Media RESEARCH REPORT On the other hand, there are several social media resources for business information where the trend in usage with experience is not linear and is shaped more like an upside-down “U”. The chart below shows that this is the case for attending webinars or listening to podcasts, asking questions on business Q&A sites, and using Twitter to find or request business- relevant information.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 31
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 24: Social Media Resources where Usage Increases then Drops with Overall Experience with Business Social Media RESEARCH REPORT The reason these trends matter becomes more obvious when we look at the chart below showing percentage of participants in this study with less than one year of experience managing or participating in business social media initiatives. If a large portion of your target audience has little experience with business social media, the charts above suggest where business social media usage is headed for that industry. Conversely, if your target customer industry is filled with business social media pros, now is not the time to focus your corporate social media initiatives on webinars and podcasts as interest will be waning.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 32
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 25: Percentage of Small Business Decision Makers by Industry with <1 Year of Experience with Business Social Media Initiatives RESEARCH REPORT For example, 45% of the small business decision maker respondents from the Retail industry have less than one year of experience with business social media initiatives. Earlier in this report we saw that Retail industry respondents were significantly less likely to search for business-relevant information on social media sites (40% vs. an average of 55% for respondents from other industries). We also see from the figure above that study participants with 1-2 years of experience with business social media initiatives conduct searches for business information on social media sites at a 31% higher rate than those with less than one year of experience (63% vs. 48%). Add this all together and guess what? We’re likely to see a significant rise in Retail industry small business decision makers searching social media sites for business-relevant information in 2010. While there are too many industry by social media experience by business social media resource usage permutations to lay out in this report, we encourage you to try this exercise for your own target audience to get a sense of the emerging trends.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 33
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Additional Reports Based on this Research The data set from Business.com’s Business Social Media Benchmarking Survey is a very rich source of insights about a wide range of topics around the business use of social media. The following reports based on this data set are available as of December 7, 2009: 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study Summarizes high-level findings from nearly 3,000 North American study participants, providing a very useful benchmark for where businesses, and business people, find value RESEARCH REPORT today in social media across different activities and sites. This report can be downloaded from http://www.business.com/info/business-social-media-benchmark-study. 2009 B2B Social Media Benchmarking Study Unique insights from this research for business-to-business (B2B) companies, including how business people use social media today, most popular types of social media initiatives among B2B companies and the value B2B companies are finding in a variety of social media initiatives, from maintaining company accounts/profiles on social media sites to participating in business Q&A, social media monitoring, content sharing and social bookmarking. This report can be downloaded from http://www.business.com/info/b2b-social-media-benchmark- study. Engaging Small Business Decision Makers Through Social Media For B2B companies targeting small business customers, this report provides key insights into how, and why, small business decision makers turn to social media resources for business- relevant information in their day-to-day jobs. The report is based on responses from 1,711 small business decision makers currently using social media for business and is an essential benchmarking resource for planning social media initiatives targeting small businesses. This report can be downloaded from http://www.business.com/info/engaging-small-business- through-social-media. . Upcoming Reports We plan to release additional reports every few weeks throughout the fourth quarter of 2009 and early 2010 on topics including the following: • Business social media newbies vs. pros • Industry-specific insights • Social media measurement • Business profiles on social media sites • Participating in question-and-answer (Q&A) sites for business • Social media monitoring • Business content sharing on social media sites • Business social bookmarking Follow Business.com on Twitter (http://twitter.com/B2BOnlineMktg) or subscribe to the RSS feed for our B2B online marketing blog (http://feeds.feedburner.com/B2B-Online-Marketing- Businesscom) to be alerted when additional reports are released.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 34
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media About the Study The data in this report comes from Business.com’s Business Social Media Benchmarking 2 Study, an online survey conducted between August 11th and September 4th, 2009. Overall, 2,948 respondents from the United States or Canada qualified to participate in the study, providing a total of 2,282 complete surveys (54%) and 1,943 partial responses. Additional details about the complete set of survey participants are available in the 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking Study general report. RESEARCH REPORT IMPORTANT NOTE: This study focuses on benchmarking the activities and perspectives of people already involved with social media for business (e.g., of companies using social media, what portion maintain profiles on social media sites?). It is not intended as a benchmark of the adoption of different social media practices across the general business population (e.g., of all North American companies, what percentage maintain profiles on social media sites?). This specific report, Engaging Small Business Decision Makers Through Social Media, is based on responses from 1,711 small company (<100 employees) participants in a middle management (Director, Department Head, Supervisor) or above role in their companies who currently use one or more social media resources for business-relevant information in their day-to-day job. Participant Profile for Small Business Decision Maker Respondents Results reported here reflect a wide range of company sizes, industries and job roles. Approximately 72% of respondents work at a “micro-business”, either as a sole proprietor or a company with less than 10 employees. Figure 26: Study Participants by Company Size 2 As an incentive to complete this lengthy survey, Business.com held a drawing for a $2,000 American Express® gift card among eligible respondents.© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 35
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media The highest concentration of small business decision makers in this report work in the retail industry (15%) followed by healthcare (11%), real estate and construction (9%) and advertising or marketing (8%). Figure 27: Study Participants by Industry RESEARCH REPORT Not surprisingly, senior/corporate managers (18%) make up the highest percentage of participants followed by marketing (15%) and sales (12%) managers. Figure 28: Study Participants by Job Role© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 36
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Over three-quarters of the small business decision makers in this study are C-level – CEO, CFO, CMO, President or other. Figure 29: Study Participants by Job Level RESEARCH REPORT Nearly two-thirds of respondents work for companies where the majority of revenue (67%+) comes from sales to consumers. Figure 30: Study Participants by Company Type Overall, 92% of small business decision makers in this study work for a company selling either services only (46%) or selling both products and services (46%).© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 37
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Figure 31: Study Participants by Company Product / Service Focus RESEARCH REPORT Two-thirds of small business decision maker participants using social media as a business information resource work for companies where 67% or more of company revenue comes from sales to customers within their local area. Figure 32: Study Participants by Primary Customer Location© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 38
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media Contact For media inquiries, questions, comments or suggestions related to this research, please contact: Dianne Molina Sr Manager, Corporate Communications 310-586-4150 RESEARCH REPORT dmolina@business.com© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 39
  • Engaging Small Business Through Social Media More Resources from Business.com… Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/B2BOnlineMktg Visit our B2B marketing blog: http://blogs.business.com/b2b-online-marketing/ Sign-up for our B2B SEM e-newsletter: http://offers.business.com/content/newsletter And get high-quality answers to your business questions through our new Q&A site, Business.com Answers: http://answers/business.com/© 2009 Business.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. www.business.com 40