The other day I wrote about how small and medium businesses were thinking of the internet in a way that made it less of a medium. Another day, another piece of research concerning SMB’s and digital. Today’s comes from BIA/Kelsey via the good folks at eMarketer and it talks about how 40% of small and midsized firms planned to increase their digital spending budget within the next 12 months. That’s not a big surprise but the fact that the SMB marketers (probably the owners too!) are thinking multi-channel. Smart, but also a little concerning:
Facebook has also emerged as a favored digital channel among these smaller businesses, likely due to its low-cost barriers and ease of use. In fact, 52% of SMBs said they used Facebook for advertising or promotional purposes, making it more popular for marketing than newspapers (31%), community sponsorships (27%) and email marketing (25%).
It’s the “ease of use” thing that has me worried. Sure, it’s easy as pie to post your latest offer or remind fans that you’re open on Sunday. However, as we’ve discussed repeatedly here on the screed, many of those “fans” aren’t interested in anything other than discounts and really won’t engage. Without an understanding of how Facebook works, Edge Rank, and the social graph, the results from Facebook are going to equal the price of entry: not much. More importantly I’m not sure the amount of daily support required is clear to these folks.
I also find it of interest that social media is compared with three other forms of customer engagement (above) that are completely different from one another and which should be used for very different purposes. Email should be a lot higher on SMB’s radar than it appears to be. However, it also requires a lot more support (and can be costlier) than what Facebook appears to be on the surface. Sponsorships are great ways to build your email list (or social followers) but if the emphasis isn’t on using email, the value of the sponsorship - and the mailing list access it should affords - lessens.
The study concludes with a note that despite all the attention paid to the “social, local, mobile” (SoLoMo) movement, SMBs are failing to recognize the benefits of linking mobile with local, an especially important element for small businesses. No surprise – that’s a very resource-intensive area to do properly. The key, as always, is to match the business objectives with the tools and the budgets. Just as every business is different, so too are the ways in which those factors – objectives, budgets, and tools – combine. As always, let me know if I can be helpful with that.