Nearly Half of Small Businesses Surveyed Have Profiles on Facebook and Twitter

Survey reveals a new class of small business owners, 45 percent of whom use social media to promote their businesses online

SAN FRANCISCO--()--A new online survey of more than 2,000 US small business by Internet2Go, an Opus Research advisory service, and MerchantCircle, the largest social network for small businesses has uncovered a new, growing segment of small business owners who aggressively use social media to promote their businesses. The survey, conducted September 8-18, 2009, found that roughly 45 percent of respondents have a presence or profiles on Facebook and Twitter to promote their businesses. The survey targeted the most frequent content-publishers among MerchantCircle’s small business members.

"We've known anecdotally that small businesses are using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter but these numbers are surprising," said Greg Sterling, senior analyst Internet2Go. "The conventional wisdom is that SMBs are unsophisticated but they're adopting social media tools en masse it appears, because there are fewer barriers to entry than other forms of online marketing."

The survey presented a broad range of questions about traditional and online marketing and asked SMBs to indicate the relative effectiveness of different media they were using to promote their businesses. Survey respondents are in many respects typical of the broader SMB market (i.e., marketing budgets, headcount) but in other ways this population represents a more "engaged" segment of small businesses.

Other survey findings include the following:

  • 79% of respondents report annual marketing budgets of less than $5,000 per year with the 44% spending “less than $1,000” annually on advertising and marketing
  • 80% of respondents have four or fewer employees
  • Asked about their "biggest complaint" regarding online marketing the top two were "too costly" (26%) and "there's not enough time to do it well and still run a business" (15.9%)
  • 75% said they monitor online reviews of their business. The most common method was by visiting specific review websites (47%) and by searching on their business name (44%)
  • Despite its popularity social media showed the biggest gap between SMB adoption and perceived effectiveness as a marketing platform.

“We believe the behavior exhibited by these small business owners is a pre-cursor of things to come – that small business owners will increasingly forgo expensive advertising options and embrace publishing their unique content across various social media outlets,” said Darren Waddell vice president and MerchantCircle. “While MerchantCircle typically focuses on helping businesses get online for the first time, we are excited to be an important part of the social media strategies employed by this new segment of merchants.”

About the Survey:

The survey was fielded online, between September 8 – 18, 2009, and sent to MerchantCircle's active member base. An incentive was offered to complete the survey (additional services from MerchantCircle worth approximately $50). There were 2,591 total survey responses, with 2,403 qualifying as "small business" defined as having fewer than 100 employees. Active MerchantCircle members are those that have done one or more of the following: created an enhanced profile, uploaded pictures, created a blog, coupons and newsletters and/or connected with other merchants through the MerchantCircle website.

About Internet2Go

Internet2Go is an Opus Research Advisory Service that tracks the growth and development of the Mobile Internet, and related consumer and advertiser behavior, business models and infrastructure to support it. Opus Research, founded in 1986, is an authority on conversational access technologies and markets. Senior Analyst Greg Sterling is also founder of Sterling Market Intelligence, focusing on the Internet’s impact on local consumer and advertiser behavior. www.internet2go.net.

About MerchantCircle

Founded in 2005, MerchantCircle is the largest network of local business owners in the nation, combining social networking features with a customizable web listing that allows local merchants to attract new customers. More than 15 million MerchantCircle business listings across the country are easily accessed on major search engines. Currently, over 925,000 merchants on the MerchantCircle network upload pictures, blog, create coupons and newsletters, and connect with other merchants.

MerchantCircle is located on Main St. in downtown Los Altos, Calif., and is funded by Rustic Canyon Partners, Scale Venture Partners, Disney’s Steamboat Ventures, and IAC. Learn more at www.MerchantCircle.com.

Contacts

Internet2Go
Pete Headrick, 415-904-7666
pheadrick@opusresearch.net
or
MerchantCircle
Kevin Leu, 858-361-4407
Kevin@MerchantCircle.com

Contacts

Internet2Go
Pete Headrick, 415-904-7666
pheadrick@opusresearch.net
or
MerchantCircle
Kevin Leu, 858-361-4407
Kevin@MerchantCircle.com