By Annette Iafrate
A new survey from online marketing tools provider Constant Contact®, Inc. (NASDAQ: CTCT) indicates a strong disconnect between British small businesses’ perception of social media marketing success and the reality.
Among the one quarter (24 per cent) of British small business decision makers surveyed that report using Facebook to market their organisation, more than a third (37 per cent) say they don’t think it has helped their business in any way, and only one fifth (21 per cent) believe they are doing a great job using Facebook to market their business. The data reveals several misconceptions that help to explain these attitudes, and shows that small businesses are actually doing a better job than they think.
We were surprised to see the misconceptions that many British small businesses have about what social media marketing success looks like – especially when their own results show they are doing a fantastic job using Facebook to drive customer engagement, find new customers and generate repeat sales.
Small businesses use Engagement Marketing without knowing it
In looking at the how small businesses are using Facebook to market their organisation, the survey revealed a major misconception around engagement, demonstrating that Britain’s small businesses simply aren’t familiar enough with Engagement Marketing to recognise when they are doing it. In fact, nearly a third (32 per cent) of decision makers whose small businesses use Facebook say they don’t know how they engage with Facebook fans, yet they also report employing a variety of engagement tactics on their Facebook pages.
Of those whose organisations use Facebook in some way:
· 42 per cent are engaging with fans by responding to posts on their Facebook Timeline
· 59 per cent use Facebook to post updates about products and services on their Facebook Timeline
· 15 per cent ask people to ‘Like’ their page to get vouchers and offers
· 14 per cent answer customer service issues
· 9 per cent conduct polls or ask questions
The great news here is that British small businesses are using Engagement Marketing to their benefit without even realising it. Engagement isn’t complicated, nor does it have to be costly. Responding to fans, asking questions, and ‘Like-gating’ content or offers are all great ways to boost interaction with your fans. The best part for time-starved small businesses is that doing these things takes just a few minutes a day.
Small businesses overestimate what’s needed for success
The survey also revealed a huge misconception around evaluating the success of engagement tactics. Of those willing to hazard a guess, a fifth of respondents whose small business use Facebook (23 per cent) believe success equates to achieving more than 500 shares, comments or Likes on a single post. In reality, it takes far less to find success, and more than half (52 per cent) of respondents who reported knowing how many Likes, shares, or comments their posts usually get are achieving fantastic results for their business by generating up to ten Likes, shares or comments on each Facebook Business page post.
From talking to small businesses every day, we know that engagement typically happens in small doses and over time. When it comes to small businesses and social media marketing, small really is huge. Just one or two shares can put your content in front of hundreds of new sets of eyeballs.
Small business decision makers also report seeing real business results from social media marketing. Twenty-two per cent of respondents from Facebook-using small businesses reported that they found new customers through the social network, whilst 12 per cent credited it with generating repeat sales. Furthermore, one third (33 per cent) say they’ve added up to 25 new fans over the last six months, and 31 per cent say they have seen value in spreading the word about special offers or new products
Measurement continues to plague resource-starved small businesses
Measurement may be one reason that small businesses are dissatisfied with their social media marketing results. Two thirds (66 per cent) of those whose businesses use Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics, because they don’t have time, it’s too complicated and hard to understand, or for other reasons. Among the 26 per cent of respondents that are measuring results and success, 40 per cent are looking for better ways to do so.
Another reason for the level of dissatisfaction with social media marketing results may be a lack of integration with other marketing tactics. While 31 per cent of those whose businesses use Facebook report that they promote their other social networks on their Facebook page, half (49 per cent) said they do not integrate Facebook activities with email marketing.
We know that small businesses have limited time to market their business, but it’s important that they think about ‘and’ rather than ‘or’. While both social media marketing and email marketing can drive great results independently, the magic really happens when you combine the two, using each tactic’s strengths to generate the biggest impact possible. Those who aren’t integrating their efforts are missing a big opportunity.
Easy ways to integrate the two channels include:
· Include share buttons within email; 21 per cent of those using Facebook report doing this
· Link to Facebook content from email newsletters; 19 per cent report doing this
· Use a sign-up, or ‘Join My Mailing List’, form on Facebook to collect email addresses; six per cent report doing this
· Ask Facebook fans to sign up for email newsletters and vice versa; 11 per cent report doing this
· Ask email newsletter subscribers to Like them on Facebook; 13 per cent report doing this
Our latest small business survey shows that there is a clear gap in understanding when it comes to recognising the impressive benefits social media marketing can bring – and indeed are already bringing – to small businesses across Britain.
Notes about the study
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1009 Small Business (1 to 49 employees) Senior Decision Makers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd and 6th July 2012. The survey was carried out online.
About the author
Annette Iafrate is UK managing director at Constant Contact. Constant Contact wrote the book on Engagement Marketing™ – the new marketing success formula that helps small organizations create and grow customer relationships in today’s socially connected world. More than half a million small businesses, non-profits and associations worldwide use the company’s online marketing tools to generate new customers, repeat business, and referrals through email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, local deals, digital storefronts, and online surveys. The company further supports small organizations through its extensive network of consultants/resellers, technology providers, franchises and national associations.