Engaging SMBs with Social Media

As a marketer to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), your company is very likely using social media to drive awareness and engagement, enhance your brand, nurture prospects and even close sales. If so, you’re probably facing a key challenge of social media marketing: developing impactful content to generate bottom-line results.

To find out how you can boost SMB engagement with your social media, we recently surveyed 386 U.S. SMB principals.

Why do SMBs visit vendor social media?

In general, SMBs are most likely to visit your social media presence – for example on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and elsewhere – to learn about your offerings. That’s true of VSBs (SMBs with fewer than 20 employees), as well as larger SMBs (100 to 500 employees). Mid-size SMBs (20-99 employees) are most likely to visit your social media presence for news on their industry.

SMBs typically visit vendor social media to browse; only one in three have a specific task in mind. The drivers of their visits vary by company size; VSBs mostly visit social media based on a prompt like an email newsletter, while mid-size and larger SMBs are most likely to have bookmarked one or a few “favorite” vendor social media sites.

How often to SMBs visit vendor social media?

SMBs have not yet made visiting their vendor’s social media sites part of their daily routine. For even the most popular industry – social media companies themselves – only 11% of SMBs visit their feeds daily. If they visit a given vendor’s social media presence at all, they are most likely to visit it a few times a month or quarter. After social media companies, SMBs are most likely to engage with the social media presence of hotels, Internet access providers and cellphone service providers.

That said, when SMBs do visit vendor social media, they can spend significant time there. 49% of VSBs spend at least five minutes per visit, compared to 80% of mid-sized SMBs and fully 85% of the largest SMBs. In fact, 40% of mid-sized and larger SMBs spend 10 to 30 minutes per visit – a significant opportunity for you to build engagement with your brand and offerings.

During that visit, SMBs are most likely to engage with two or three pieces of content, such as a blog post, interactive element or video. The takeaway? Make it easy for them to link from piece to piece.

What do SMBs want in social media?

VSBs are most interested in industry news. If you prioritize a few key verticals, providing them with industry updates can be a great way to foster engagement. Midsize SMBs are equally interested in industry news and learning about technology, while larger SMBs are most interested in technology.

Qualitatively, SMBs most want content that is relevant, high quality and easy to understand. You can ensure relevance by posting information aligned with your brand – for example, banks should focus on financial management topics. You should also check your analytics, of course, to see which topics and formats get the best traction.

How useful is vendor social media to SMBs?

SMB perception of vendor social media varies starkly by company size. 23% of VSBs rate it useful or very useful, compared to 70% of midsize SMBs and 74% of larger SMBs.

That said, the payback of investing in social media to engage SMBs can be high. 34% of VSBs have made a purchase based on a vendor’s social media content; 53% of mid-sized SMBs and fully 71% of larger SMBs have.

…and the winner is: Facebook

Appropriately enough, SMBs rate Facebook as having the most useful social media presence – 40% rate it somewhat to very useful. The runners-up are Google (35%), PayPal (33%), Microsoft (30%) and UPS (29%).

About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.