Elaine Fogel

Most Small Businesses Use Facebook – But is the Research Valid?

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of small business owners and marketers are confused. Some studies claim that Facebook is ‘it’ for smaller businesses, while other studies show something different.

What should you believe?

It seems that many recent marketing studies may not have been developed by marketing research experts. This can easily lead to false results and misleading data. And, it is happening more and more.

Take the recent study by marketing software company, VerticalResponse, that indicates 90% of small businesses are on Facebook. Entitled, How Much Time, Money Do Small Businesses Spend on Social Media” the company offers a creative infographic that show its results. There’s only one problem. There’s information missing.

For starters, the study incorporates responses from 500 of its own small business customers. That makes sense considering it is an e-mail service provider.

But, what do we know about Vertical Response customers? Maybe, the company’s small business customers are mostly B2C businesses (business-to-consumer). If that’s the case, using Facebook (90%) and Twitter (nearly 70%) may be productive social media channels for them.

However, if these businesses are predominantly B2B (business-to-business), then Facebook may not be their first choice.

Recent studies are all over the map.

According to a 2012 study entitled, B2B Social Media Marketing: A Surge in Adoption by B2B Online and reported on MarketingProfs, LinkedIn is the number one social media network at 30%.

According to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, by Michael Stelzner at Social Media Examiner, 87% of B2B brands are using Facebook, followed right behind by LinkedIn at 86.6%. But, these studies include businesses of all sizes.

Then, there’s the Constant Contact Small Business Pulse that states, “Of those using social media, Facebook is far and away the most effective, even for B2Bs.”

But, when you look at who was involved in the study, you find that they surveyed over 1000 participants in the Constant Contact Small Biz Council – a research panel of U.S. small businesses and nonprofits recruited from the Constant Contact customer base. And, nonprofits are not synonymous with small businesses!

So, what should smaller business believe?

My advice? Try the social media networks where your target customers hang out. Develop a social media strategy and then test your results to see which are bringing in more leads or contributing to more sales.

Stick with the ones that work!

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