Small Business Stuck in Neutral on Social Media [INFOGRAPHIC]

While small businesses use social media personally and believe it affects their businesses, the majority of don’t know how to use the new networks to build their companies. Additionally, most don’t plan on investing online until they understand the practices and payoffs. That’s the headline finding in a new study we just released with small business community - OfficeArrow.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of our member community of small business owners said they access social networks on smartphones or other mobile devices, yet 67% are holding back investing in social media because they don’t know where to begin. What’s holding them back is a sense of overload, in particular fear of the resources required to meet the expectations of social media users. Specifically, 51% fear sharing sensitive information; 50% say there’s too much social media to manage; and 44% fear “information overload.” The study engaged 343 small business executives, predominantly from companies with fewer than 10 employees, via email and website surveys. All are members of the OfficeArrow network.

The reality is that small businesses need a playbook to proceed in social media.  Entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of the American economy. Preparing them to capitalize on the business opportunities social media should be a top priority.

The solution is to treat social media as a platform for listening, not talking.  Among the 41% of small businesses taking any social media action, the focus is solidly on promoting to increase brand awareness. However, 60% say they do want to use social media as an information source; they just don’t know how.  Here are three initial steps small businesses need to take:

 Find your customers online. There’s a world beyond Facebook and Twitter online, where people bare their feelings instantaneously. Identify the places where customers are commenting, linking and sharing content.

  1. Set up to listen. Establish feeds to extract relevant insights continually. Everything tells you something about what really matters to the people a business intends to serve.
  2. Emphasize customer service. It’s possible do more for less through online customer service. Catalog what people like, trust, dislike, and distrust, about your company, competitors and category. Pinpoint the key dissatisfactions and consider ways to automate tasks for customers.

The most important resource is a specialist in monitoring social media.  Your business needs to focus resources on customer action, and monitoring professionals combine the technology and analysis.

social media small business infographic


  1. I love the data. But I still don’t understand the rage of the long-long infographic. I have to break it into printable pages or powerpoint slides if I want to share it. Is the concept that people would rather scroll than hit NEXT? Again, good data, about to Tweet it. @jmacofearth

  2. J. Brandon says:

    Good information; thank you. Curious about the methodology; could not find it in the report. How many people did you survey?

  3. Pixelsmiths says:

    I can’t imagine that people still cant see the importance of having an online presence via social media. Wake up people and invest!

  4. Heather says:

    Interested in sharing this information as a feature on our weekly Tuesday Toolkit tomorrow on the SavvyB2Bmarketing blog but I don’t see a definition of “small business” and interested in your sample size for the survey. Do you mind sharing either here in comments or you can email me directly.


  5. Yes, small business owners are having a difficult time using Social Media effectively due to not knowing how to use the network and not creating a clear strategy for marketing.

    I work with many business owners who just don’t have the budget to hire a Social Media company to create and implement a clear and concise strategy. I created the Easy Social Media Learning specifically to help business owners who want to manage their own Social Media but have no idea how. Those that are members are able to easily understand exactly how they can use whatever network they want to fulfill their marketing expectation.

  6. Phil Doyle says:

    Yes. Agree. Our clients have discovered that mobile marketing brings customers back in with their friends while social media works best for listening to customers and learning from them, as you have said. PHIL

  7. I like the graphic but am curious about the research method and size of sample. We work with over 100,000 small businesses in B2B social (which should be the worst adoption rates) and we don’t see these numbers for lack of investment. 90% of our clients are increasing their social media marketing budgets by over 30% in 2012. One possible explanation is that our customers are invariably tied to a larger entity that provides significant resources for knowledge and training. It would be interesting to compare notes and report on where the delta occurs and why. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Janay says:

    Now I feel stuipd. That’s cleared it up for me

  9. Ilona says:

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