Increased use of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn

Small businesses are continuing to increase their use of social media marketing, and now nearly half are using it to find new customers, according to one survey.

The spring 2011 edition of the American Express OPEN “Small Business Monitor” found the use of social media for marketing was up over previous years. More than a third (35%) of US small businesses reported using online social networking for marketing, up from 15% in fall 2009. In addition, 12% of respondents were using blogs as a social tactic, nearly double the figure from fall 2009.

Online Marketing Tactics Currently Used by US Small Businesses, 2007-2011 (% of respondents)

The leading reason for using social media, according to the September 2010 edition of the survey, was to increase the exposure of the business, and American Express OPEN found that more small businesses were turning to social media for customer acquisition. By spring 2011, 44% were using social media to help their businesses, up from 39% in September 2010. They were focusing on the top social networking sites for those efforts.

Usage of Facebook for customer acquisition was up 8 percentage points, while LinkedIn was up 6 points. Twitter usage also increased, holding third place. At the same time, usage of “other” social media was cut in half, suggesting that small businesses are not experimenting with sites out of the social media mainstream.

Social Media Tools Used by US Small Businesses to Attract New Customers, 2010 & 2011 (% of respondents)

The small businesses surveyed expressed a need for social media expertise. Asked what new hire would most help their business, 9% said a social media expert, making it the second most popular choice after bookkeeper.

SOURCE eMarketer