Social Media: How Does Your Small Business Stack Up?

Social media offers small businesses an inexpensive, relatively friction-free way to accomplish different business functions, from generating new leads to getting input for new product development. Consequently, it’s not surprising that small businesses are rapidly moving to take advantage of it.

How far along the social media curve is your business compared to your peers? We’ve picked some key data points from our recent joint SMB Group-CRM Essentials “2011 Small and Medium Business Social Business Study” to put together a quick quiz to help you benchmark your social media prowess.

Take the Quiz

1. Which of the following best describes your company’s use and/or planned use of social media to engage with your customers or prospects?  (Check one)

a.    We currently use social media in a strategic and structured way to interact with customers and/or prospects: 4 points

b.    We currently use social media in an ad hoc, informal way to interact with customers and/or prospects: 2 points

c.     We don’t currently use social media to interact with customers and/or prospects, but plan to do so within the next 12 months: 1 points

d.    We do not currently use social media and have no plans do so in the next 12 months: 0 points

Although social media is a relatively recent phenomena, 44% of small businesses are using social media, and about 31% are planning to use it. Among those currently using social media, 24% say they’re using it in a structured and strategic way, while 20% are using it in an informal, ad hoc manner. Give yourself extra points for being a strategic user, because the study also reveals that small businesses that take a more formal and structured social media approach are 2 to 3 times more likely to be satisfied or very satisfied with outcomes from their efforts than those using it in an informal, ad hoc way.

Figure 1: Small Business Use/Plans for Social Media

2. Which of the following ways are you using or planning to use social media for your business?  (Check all that apply)

a.    Sales and marketing related activities: generate new leads, improve market awareness, generate more web site traffic, enhance company reputation, etc: 3 points

b.    Market and competitive research activities: get input for product development, analyze market trends, gather competitive intelligence, etc: 3 points

c.     Customer service activities: improved service/support, create more/better customer interactions, etc: 3 points

d.    Internal activities: improve internal collaboration, aid new employee recruitment, etc: 3 points

Today, most small businesses use social media primarily to help market their businesses. 22% use it to generate new leads, and 21% use it to boost market awareness for the company. In comparison, just 10% use it to gather competitive intelligence, and 7% use it to get new ideas for product development. But, small businesses often find that they get more value from social media for these kinds of “listening functions” than for the megaphone-type marketing activities.

3. Which of the following social media channels does your company proactively use or plan to use to help you engage and interact with customers and prospects?  

Score 1 point for each of these that your business uses: a) Company Facebook page; b) post content to others’ relevant Facebook groups; c) social bookmarking sites; d) LinkedIn, e) YouTube; f) industry-specific communities; g) user review sites; h) geo location services; i) coupon services; j) company blog; k)posting on relevant blogs and forums.

Facebook accounts for the lion’s share of current SMB social media use. 26% of small businesses have a Facebook page, and 20% engage in and/or post content to relevant Facebook groups. In contrast, 9% use YouTube, 9% have a company blog, and 5% use coupon services such as Groupon or LivingSocial. However, small businesses are often more satisfied with the results they achieve from some of these less-utilized social media channels than from Facebook.

4. Does your company use or plan to use any free and/or paid tools to monitor and manage social media?

a.    Currently use either free and/or paid tools: 6 points

b.    Plan to use in the next 12 months: 2 points

c.      No plans to use: 0 points

Only a very tiny minority of small businesses use free tools to monitor and manage social media—and an even smaller group use paid tools. Without the ability to monitor and measure the results of your social media efforts, you risk wasting time engaging in activities that are not creating advantages for your business, or worse yet, doing things that could actually be damaging it.

Figure 2: Small Businesses’ Use of Free and Paid Tools to Monitor and Manage Social Media

How Did You Score?

28-33 points: Social Media Black Diamond: Congratulations, you are in the elite group of small businesses that are pushing the social media envelope. You’re eager to explore new ways to create value for your business with social media, and understand the value of social media as a 2-way communication channel. Through diligent listening and social media monitoring, you continuously recalibrate your efforts to optimize results.

20-27 points: Social Media Intermediate: Your knowledge of and comfort level for social media are growing. You’re likely to already have a plan. By putting more thought into the results you want to get, formulating metrics for success, and implementing more effective social media monitoring, you can expand your use of social media in a way that will produce significant results. Team up with partners, relevant industry groups and other simpatico organizations to help echo and reinforce each other.

13-20 points: Social Media Novice: You’re using social media, but in a fairly limited way, and you may not be sure it’s worth the effort. Remember that social media is a two-way street, and to listen to customers, prospects and others in your community, and not just trumpet your own messages. Take time to learn more about the different ways you can use social media in your business, how to use different social media channels for different types of business activities and start developing a strategy to use social media to help your business in one or two very specific ways.

0-12: Social Media Bunny: Everyone has to start somewhere, so congratulations even if you are just beginning to think about whether or not social media is for you. You don’t have to jump in with a company Facebook page of your own. Try starting by listening to and then joining relevant conversations, groups and forums that others have started to get a better feel for the dialogue and how people are responding to it. By listening and participating before you go all out establishing company blogs, YouTube channels, Facebook pages, etc. you can avoid many of the traps–such as shameless self-promotion–that a bunny might ordinarily fall into.

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