Small Business Owners Adopting Social Media in 2010

A new survey of U.S. small business owners confirms what I’ve thought to be true: Social media is growing as a marketing tool. The “FedEx Office Signs of the Times Small Business Survey” polled 500 small biz owners across the country in early April. When asked how they plan to grow their businesses in 2010, social media was one of the few methods that gained when compared to the 2009 survey. Have a look:


Apologies for the image being so small; it’s how the survey was presented. If that’s a bit hard to read, it shows that 36% of respondents listed social media in their plans for business growth in 2010, compared to 24% in 2009. More small biz owners listed “create or improve your company’s web site” or “increase communication with existing or potential customers” as planned tactics for 2010, but both of those were down slightly from a year ago.

The survey asked a number of questions (as you’d expect) about the value of printed marketing tools … it’s what FedEx offers to business customers, after all. And, in fact, one of the questions asked what form of marketing is more effective: 61% said “traditional marketing and advertising” was more effective; the other 39% said “web-based marketing and advertising” was more effective.

That may not sound too promising, but it falls in line with some of the widely reported numbers that suggest no more than 50% of small businesses even have a web site.

If you want to look into these numbers some more, the news release is here and the study results can be downloaded here (in PDF format).

Comments (9)

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  1. Interesting to see which numbers are down Matt. I would think loyalty programs go hand and hand with social media. Also, would have expected that networking (but perhaps non traditional) would be up.

  2. Craig Mason says:

    It’s great that so many business are getting into social media, but how many of them are going to do it right?

    This seems like a great opportunity to educate small business owners on the idea that social media is about more than advertising.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Sandy says:

    Hello Matt, I am grateful to have found your site and more particularly that stat that 50% of small businesses do not have a website. I believe that may be a bit higher here in Australia. But there is another statistic which I would love verification of, which is of the 50% that have a website, what percentage are even indexed by Google, or found by anyone other than those looking up the actual business name to find a phone number or other detail? Is it right to assume that even today many of them would be merely static brochure-type sites?

    PS. Your site ranked number one for the keyword small business seo through the rank decoding engine which is how I found you.

    • Matt McGee says:

      I’ve never seen any concrete stats that try to address what percentage of SMB web sites are indexed, have done SEO, etc., Sandy. That would be an interesting stat to know, though. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s probably in the neighborhood of 50% are optimized. SEO is growing and many industries — law, real estate, restaurants, doctors, etc. — must have a high SEO adoption rate. But yes, as you say, in many other industries, the SMB web site is little more than an online brochure.

      Thanks for the kind words. Wish I had some stats on what you’re asking.

  4. Cindy Lavoie says:

    Wow – the jump from 2009 to 2010 in planned social media use is impressive. We’re working with lots of small businesses just starting out and getting quickly overwhelmed by the number of choices and the time commitment required. It’s really a radically new way of thinking for most of them.

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