The jury still might be out regarding the value of social media to small businesses, but a new survey indicates that small firms are embracing Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as marketing tools.
In a survey conducted this past December by Constant Contact Inc., 80 percent of small businesses said they use social media for marketing.
Overwhelmingly, the firms said Facebook is the most effective social-media platform to promote their businesses.
Some 82 percent of respondents said Facebook delivers the best results for their social-media marketing efforts, followed by LinkedIn (29 percent), Twitter (25 percent) and YouTube (15 percent).
In a May 2012 survey, only 10 percent of respondents pointed to LinkedIn as the most effective social-media tool, while 7 percent cited Twitter.
"The sharp increase in effectiveness ratings for both LinkedIn and Twitter is significant," said Mark Schmulen, general manager, social media, for Waltham, Mass.-based Constant Contact.
"While Facebook remains the dominant platform, small businesses are successfully expanding their engagement to reach audiences across multiple networks. This indicates another positive step in the social-media adoption curve for SMBs."
While more small businesses are using social media as a marketing tool, the Constant Contact survey indicates that firms continue to lack confidence in their social-media skills.
More than half (54 percent) chose social-media marketing as the marketing activity with which they need the most help. The lack of confidence, according to Constant Contact, might explain why only 13 percent of survey respondents said they post to Twitter daily and 10 percent post to LinkedIn weekly.
"Twitter just celebrated its seventh birthday, but the reality is that social-media marketing is a relatively new practice for most small businesses," Schmulen said.
"While the majority of small businesses are 'experimenting' with social, those who have found success have learned that social-media marketing requires a commitment to engaging their audience on a consistent basis."