SMBs are increasingly using social media for business purposes, but not necessarily as part of a planned corporate strategy. As demonstrated by a recent study from specialty research firm The SMB Group, the SMB market is in need of qualified assistance to help it reach the full potential offered by social media technology.
The SMB Group study reveals that overall use of social media among SMBs is up from 44 percent in 2011 to 53 percent this year among small businesses (1-99 employees), and up from 52 percent to 63 percent among medium businesses (100-999 employees). In addition, in 2012, 35 percent of SMBs using social media indicate that they have replaced and/or displaced other tools with social media. The tools that SMBs are most likely to have replaced with social media include direct mail, newspapers/business trade journals/magazines, yellow pages, and email marketing.
Rising SMB Social Media Adoption Doesn’t Equal Rising MasteryHowever, despite this double-digit rise in adoption, the gap is widening between SMBs that are using social media in an informal, ad hoc manner and those taking a more planned, strategic approach. SMB Group findings suggest that more SMBs are using social media, but they frequently lack the solutions, expertise and guidance to integrate them with other business processes and use them more effectively in their businesses.
For example, the top challenges SMBs cite to using social media more strategically are lack of time; inability to measure value, difficulty integrating social media and lack of budget. And while SMB adoption of social media has been on the rise during the past year, median spending for both small and medium companies has remained the same as in 2011.
These findings indicate that most SMBs recognize the value social media provides as a business tool, but do not have the internal IT or human resources to strategically leverage social media and also lack the financial resources to develop them in-house. Naturally, MSPs are in an ideal position to provide the technology and human expertise needed to turn social media into a strategic business tool that is fully integrated with the larger corporate IT and business strategy, rather than an ad hoc novelty with vague ROI.
Social media is new enough that many MSPs may not yet have a fully developed social media practice, but now is the time to develop one. Floundering SMBs are too tempting a prospect to remain adrift in the social media seas for long – if you can’t help them, one of your competitors surely can!
MSPs should also note that SMB Group research shows the vast majority of SMBs use social media for sales and marketing functions, with only a small percentage leveraging social media for tasks related to functions such as human resources, customer service or product development.