In the six years that BIA/Kelsey has tracked social media as an advertising/marketing medium for SMBs, it’s developed from an experiment (blogs, email, and reviews) to a tsunami.
Last year, social media achieved a “double first” — It was the top media used by SMBs (72 percent) and also highest in dollar spend. The story is similar with the new Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) Wave 18, but with a few surprises.
Social media is now used by an unusually wide array of business categories, some unexpected (like bookkeeping). It also turns out that the most socially active SMBs are the oldest cohort (those in business 11 years or more).
Also evident in LCM, social media has developed into an ecosystem in its own right. The survey now tracks eleven different social media platforms used by SMBs. For example, Facebook is pervasive in a few different formats (pages, ads, etc.).
BIA/Kelsey also sees strength in social platforms targeted to specific audiences and interests, such as LinkedIn and Pinterest. In fact, we’re rapidly reaching a point where most SMB advertising and marketing will be “social” to some degree.
The dialog about social media for SMBs in the coming years will be more about how than if. It will be about how social connections work with SMB business models, rather than if they should do more with social.