Small Business and Social Media: Experience vs. Enthusiasm

Filed in Small Biz Marketing, Social Media, Statistics by Matt McGee on November 19, 2008 9 Comments

This is a fairly limited survey, but it has some interesting data: VerticalResponse, an email and direct mail marketing provider, surveyed small businesses in California about online marketing and social media. Responses were divided by how long the companies have been in business; start-ups are those in business 3 years or less, and established companies were those in business 10 year or more. Some results:

1.) 85% of startups use social media tools (including blogs, social networks, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more) compared to 75% of established businesses.

I think this speaks a bit to the mindset of newer small business owners and their willingness to get involved in social media and use these sites/tools that have only been around about as long as they’ve been in business. The established companies (10 years or older) are businesses that started long before the term “social media” even existed. Heck, those companies are even pre-Google.

2.) More than 50% of startups ranked lack of time or budget as the key roadblocks to online marketing, while less than 5% ranked either lack of technical skills or knowledge of the tools.

3.) For established businesses, lack of time also led with a full half of respondents, but 44% cited lack of technical skills and 37% lack of knowledge of what’s available as their leading road blocks.

This suggests that small businesses who are starting now begin with a high level of technical knowledge, while older companies consider that a roadblock. These results are practically cliché, but I’ve always said that things usually become cliché when they’re true. Newer small businesses enter the world with more enthusiasm and understanding of the online tools available to them, while more experienced companies are lagging behind in those areas.

You can read the full news release on MarketWatch.

Comments (9)

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  1. Barry Wise says:

    I certainly fall into the 50% that have a problem with lack of time … it’s hard to keep up with all the social media opportunities out there.

  2. I agree with number one because much of that is free to use and if you have the time you can really take advantage of those social platforms.

  3. Donace says:

    I have to agree…even for someone trying to keep afloat of all social media changes it is hard to keep track…The benefit though if done right is worth the pay off.

    Add in the fact if done right (even wrong sometimes) it has a major SEO benefit.

  4. Eric Brown says:

    Matt, Great Post
    After leaving Corporate America and starting a small boutique apartment management company, Urbane Apartments in 2003 to pursue my plans to create wealth, we have ceased traditional marketing efforts in exchange for an Urbane MySpace site, an Urbane Facebook site, an Urbane You Tube site and an Urbane flickr site. Urbane Apartments and Urbane employees twitter regularly. To further integrate we started a Social Network site the Urbane Lobby where residents can meet and greet, trade pictures and videos and socialize on line. We manage and power a blog aimed at our residents the Urbane Blog, all designed around our target demographic local brand recognition.

    Our Goal; To provide our residents with an experience and value with a high enough return to create enough Customer Evangelists within our core resident base that they self rent our apartments. We are working hard to lead our resident Influencers within our core resident base, and have transitioned most of our marketing budget inward, to further focus on our existing residents. Only good things have happened from this move. Resident retention has significantly improved, and we have created a forum and a field for the Influencers to participate. Along the path we hope to become Social Media experts based on our experience as to what works for multifamily and what doesn’t. We are learning as we go, but are seeing stellar results.

    Perhaps the greatest benefit for us by utilizing these tactics and strategies is that when a potential resident does a Google search for Royal Oak Apartments, Urbane Apartments pop up on page one, number four or five consistently, which then typically drives the prospect right to our web site, thus allowing us an opportunity to showcase our offering

  5. Frank Reed says:


    Social media is something that needs to be completely explored and analyzed by the smaller players since there are types of social media that may simply not have value in certain verticals / industries. It’s never good to do something just to say that you do it. Intention and planning with something as ‘wide open’ as social media is critical since time is resource that seems to be in short supply for a lot of folks.

  6. mike says:

    finances are limited when you are a start-up. i’m sure this has something to do with it… you’re in guerrilla marketing mode.

  7. In the beginning you will have a lot of enthusiasm and very little experience of what it really takes to market online which leads often to buying a lot of marketing material that really does not help you at all.

    Social media and basic article marketing are methods that are free and never goes out of fashion.

  8. Joe says:

    We are just now starting to get into the social media circle. I am finding it hard to figure out successful ways to make it work. I’ve seen success stories but you always have to remember that what works for one person may not work for you.

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