BLOG How Your Small Business Social Media Can Compete

Published: Oct 10, 2017 7 min read
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Want your small business social media to stand out and yield measurable results?

You still can although it may take longer to achieve your objectives.

The reality is social media still works for small businesses if you consistently publish, curate and engage with your followers on topics core to your offering.

Don’t take my word for it—check Social Media Examiner’s 2017 social media research. (BTW–Here’s 2016 Social Media Examiner Research results analyzed.)

61% of Social Media Examiner respondents have 10 or less employees, the definition of small business. Specifically 22% of respondents are solopreneurs and 39% of respondents have 2 to 10 employees. These small businesses are active on a variety of social media platforms. (Here’s how the Inc 500 use social media in 2017.)

Let’s look at the research results to see how you can apply them to your small business without breaking the bank.

2017 Top Social Media Platforms

Small business social media research findings

Social media usage by platform has remained relatively stable based on 2017 Social Media Examiner Research. Instagram usage continues to grow largely attributable to its focus on photos and video.

  • 94% of respondents use Facebook
  • 68% of respondents use Twitter
  • 56% of respondents use LinkedIn
  • 54% of respondents use Instagram (usage jumped 10 percentage points since 2016)
  • 45% of respondents use YouTube
  • 30% of respondents use Pinterest (usage dropped 10 percentage points since 2016)
  • 7% of respondents use Snapchat

Most commonly used social media platforms by small businesses – 2017-Chart

As marketers gain social media experience, they expand the number of platforms they use and the amount of time they spend per network.

Note: Social Media Examiner doesn’t consider blogs as a social media platform in its research. I disagree with this classification.

Facebook Remains Social Media’s 800 Pound Gorilla


62% of respondents consider Facebook to be their most important social media platform.

This isn’t a surprise. Facebook reached top media status with ad agencies at the end of 2016.

Based on its reach and user numbers, businesses of any size need to be on Facebook.

Yet Facebook marketing remains a mystery to many respondents:

  • 42% of respondents believe their Facebook marketing is effective.
  • 40% of respondents don’t know if their Facebook marketing is effective.

Facebook Effectiveness For Small Businesses – Chart

Facebook News Feed Exposure


While officially Facebook has stated they’ve decreased newsfeed visibility, roughly 2 out of 5 respondents were unsure of their newsfeed exposure.

  • 53% of respondents saw Facebook newsfeed visibility decline.
  • 42% of respondents were unsure of their Facebook newsfeed visibility.

Facebook Newsfeed Exposure as reported by small businesses -Chart

Despite Facebook newsfeed decline, marketers are posting the same or more on the platform. This is consistent with other research, namely Buffer.

Want to learn more about Facebook? (Of course you do—just admit it!)

  • Follow Mari Smith, Jon Loomer, Amy Porterfield and Andrea Vahl.

As a point of comparison, here’s Inbound Marketing Research results stacked up.


Top 5 Small Business Social Media Pain Points Based on 2017 Social Media Examiner Research


To understand what it takes to get your small business recognized on social media, understand these 5 challenges.

1. Top 5 social media questions

Respondents’ top 5 social media questions were:

  1. What social tactics are most effective?
  2. What’s the best way to engage with my audience?
  3. How do I measure return on social media marketing?
  4. What’s the best way to use paid social?
  5. How do I find my audience on social?

These small business folks want to act. They’re not thinking about their long-term strategy or integrating social media into a larger plan.

The reality is most small businesses don’t have the time or resources to create a marketing strategy integrating content, social media and other forms.

While not a full-fledged strategy, these 3 questions will get you on track quickly:

  1. Why are you in business? How can we help our customers in ways that no one else can? Define what will you do for your customer that’s different from my other choices or close substitutes
  2. Who are you doing this for? Define your core audience so you can find them on digital media, offline media and in real life. Create a marketing persona.
  3. What do you want to be known for (Hat tip: Mark Schaefer)? Limit yourself to 3 key topics. Don’t be everything to everyone. What is your defendable niche?

After you’ve answered these questions, determine how you’ll measure success. Joe Pulizzi focuses on email addresses.

2. Social media hours per week

For small businesses, time is their scarcest resource. Therefore time spent on social media is a proxy for budget.

  • 3% of respondents don’t spend any time on social media (Note: While a rounding error, it’s strange there wasn’t a screening question to eliminate non-users.)
  • 56% of respondents spend 10 or less hours on social media
  • 21% of respondents spend 11 to 20 hours on social media
  • 9% of respondents spend 21 to 30 hours on social media
  • 5% of respondents spend 31 to 40 hours on social media
  • 6% of respondents spend over 41 hours on social media (Note: Based on the respondent analysis, these respondents may be social media consultants, etc.)

Time Small Businesses Spend on Social Media -Chart

  • Newbies spend 10 or less hours on social media
  • Those with 5+ years of experience spend 20+ hours per week

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Article Compliments Of:

Heidi Cohen