Visual Objects, a firm that helps businesses find marketing agencies, recently released the results of a survey which found that most small businesses that use social media expect their revenue to grow this year.
Slightly over half of U.S. small businesses polled engage in social media every week, and project revenue growth this year despite continued COVID-related business limitations.
Not surprisingly, Facebook is the most popular platform, with 78 percent using it. In second place is Instagram (also part of the Facebook ecosystem), with 52 percent using that. In third place is YouTube, at 50 percent.
YouTube’s share of the pie is likely to increase as more and more businesses recognize its potential. “YouTube is the new television. There’s a large stream of revenue with the platform, which makes it viable and sustainable even if the pandemic hits back again,” says Visual Objects’ marketing specialist John Stevenson. Forty-eight percent of small businesses plan to use YouTube more this year, according to the survey’s findings.
TikTok has become increasingly popular, especially among younger people, but so far small businesses have largely shied away from using it for marketing purposes. Visual Objects chalks this up to TikTok’s younger demographic.
The report doesn’t offer much commentary on Twitter or LinkedIn usage, but these platforms shouldn’t be ignored as they can also be valuable. LinkedIn is especially useful for B2B (business to business) marketing outreach, not to mention as a recruitment tool.
Thirty percent of small businesses consider engagement metrics—such as likes, comments, and shares—the most important measure of success on social media, despite their inability to directly inform on changes in revenue. As the report points out, businesses are using these metrics as indicators that their content is reaching the right audience, but it is wise to keep the focus on revenue, regardless of what the metrics suggest.
The survey also found that social media software use is rare among the small business community. Only about 30 percent reported using software such as Hootsuite, Buffer and others to facilitate social media posts and activity.
Social media has been an increasingly important aspect of small business marketing for years, but never has this been clearer than over the past year. Arguably, online presence often took the place of physical presence in the midst of the pandemic. We can expect a growing number of businesses to continue to increase social media use and engagement.