Recently, Internet2Go analyst Greg Sterling conducted a survey of over 2,400 small business owners about the subject of social media such as Twitter and Facebook. The survey was aimed at members of the business social network MerchantCircle, who publish content frequently. His findings were that 45% of small companies, with less than 100 employees, confirmed that they do use Twitter and Facebook to promote their businesses, but Sterling also found that many businesses were not sure how effective their online promotions were due to their lack of knowledge of how to measure the effectiveness.
In an interview with eWeek.com, Sterling said he was surprised at the high percentage, considering many of the companies surveyed do not have the money or resources to spend on sophisticated marketing plans, "For these guys, costs was a big factor. They either need to hire a dedicated person or need more resources and don't have it."
80% of businesses surveyed had four or fewer employees, while 79% had annual marketing budgets of less than $5,000. 44% of the businesses said they actually spend less than $1,000 on advertising. 26% of participants said online marketing simply costs too much and another 16% said they just don't have the time to partake in it. Facebook and Twitter are both free and setting up an account is simple and not at all time-consuming.
So what does this mean? Sterling seems to think that in the future, more and more small businesses will fore go traditional, more competitive forms of advertising such as search engine marketing to focus on social media. "We are going to see more and more of this behavior from other small businesses because it's free and you don't have to have expertise to set up these pages," he told eWeek.
The downside to using Twitter or Facebook is the lack of ability to measure how many visits your account page is getting, but if the social media phenomenon holds up, it's almost certain some sort of social media marketing measurement tool will become available.