As a marketer to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), your company is probably using content marketing to drive awareness and engagement, enhance your brand, nurture prospects, close sales and retain customers. If so, you’re probably facing a key challenge of content marketing: getting SMBs to share content with their peers
To find out how you can get SMBs to share your content more, we recently surveyed 493 U.S. SMB principals on their content sharing habits.
Who shares content?
The bigger the company, the more likely its principal is to share marketing content. 75% of principals of companies with 100 to 500 employees share content at least a few times a month, compared to only 27% of their peers from companies with fewer than 20 employees. And bigger companies plan to share even more content in 2017 – 56% of 100-500 employee respondents will share content more this year than last, versus 35% of 20-99 and 31% of businesses with fewer than 20 employees.
Younger SMB principals are more likely to share content, as well. 59% of Millennials (ages 18-34) share content at least a few times a month, almost three times the rate of Boomers (ages 50+), at 22%.
What kinds of content do SMBs share?
SMBs are most likely to share information on their industry (49%) and research (48%). In terms of the topics, companies with up to 99 employees are most likely to share industry information, while SMBs with 100 to 500 employees are most likely to share information on operations.
The most-shared content formats are email newsletters, social media posts and articles – especially by the smallest SMBs. Larger SMBs are relatively more likely to share case studies, webcasts and analyst reports. Younger SMBs are relatively less likely to share an email newsletter, and more likely to share social media posts and interactive tools (such as quizzes, calculators or configurators).
In general, SMBs are most likely to share content from independent bloggers or experts (43%); followed by publications like Forbes or The New York Times (37%); suppliers like a CPA or an IT consultant (35%); or companies like American Express, Intuit, Office Depot, Verizon or Visa (32%). However mid-tier SMBs (those with 20-99 employees) are most likely to share content from marketers like you, while those with 100 to 500 employee are most likely to share content from colleges or universities.
SMBs are most motivated to share content that is easy to understand, provides valuable advice, and focuses on their industry. The vast majority (76%) read content fully before sharing it, to ensure it will reflect well on them.
How do SMBs share content?
SMBs – especially Boomers – are most likely to use email to share content (57%), followed closely by Facebook (55%), which is most used by Millennials and Gen Xers.
Who do SMBs share content with?
In general, SMBs are most likely to share content with their clients or customers (55%), prospects (40%), business partners (36%), co-workers (29%) and peers or colleagues (24%). However their content sharing habits vary; SMBs with fewer than 20 employees, and those who are 35+, share most with their clients or customers, while larger (and Millennial) SMBs share most with their business partners.
Why do SMBs share content?
SMBs are most likely to say they share content to strengthen relationships, followed by building their reputation, keeping staff informed and helping others.
…and the winner is: Microsoft
SMBs rate Microsoft the highest in terms of the value of its marketing content. 78% rate its content between somewhat to very useful or valuable. The runners-up are Google (also 78%), PayPal (77%), FaceBook (75%) and Visa (74%).