Skeptical Businesses Slow to Adopt Social Media

Small and medium-size businesses are split on the prospects of social media. A new eMarketer report found that just 24 percent of small businesses and 33 percent of medium-size businesses have integrated social media in a structured way for their businesses.

In addition to the nearly one-quarter of small businesses that use social media in a structured way, 20 percent use social media in an informal way. An additional 25 percent of small business owners said they have plans to use social media in the next year, while 31 percent said they have no plans to integrate social media in the next year.

[Social Marketing Takes Hold, But Traditional Marketing Still Thrives]

Previous research explains the reason for small business skepticism of social media. That research, conducted by Constant Contact in May 2012 and reported in the eMarketer report, found that a majority of small businesses were looking to keep their marketing budgets the same in the coming year. More important, though, that research also pointed out that 49 percent of small businesses found social media marketing effective.

Medium-size businesses were slightly more engaged on social media. In addition to the one in three business owners who currently use social media in a structured way, another 19 percent said  they use social media in an informal way. Twenty-two percent said they plan to integrate social media marketing in the next year and 26 percent said they have no plans to use social media in the next year.

"Integration of social media within company processes is one of the latest trends, as larger companies work to incorporate social beyond marketing and into customer service, sales and research and development," the eMarketer report said. "Small and medium-size businesses are also working to do so, but still have a ways to go."

Facebook was the most popular social media platform for small and medium-size businesses. In particular, businesses used Facebook to post information and content to group pages. Fourteen percent of small businesses used LinkedIn and Twitter, while 21 percent and 19 percent of medium- size businesses used the same channels.  Fewer than 10 percent of small businesses used services such as YouTube, company blogs and coupon services to market themselves on social media.

The eMarketer report was based on a study by SMB Group and Constant Contact. For the purposes of the reports, small businesses had between 20 and 99 employees while medium- sized businesse had between 100 and 999 employees.

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