In the business world, social media is emerging as the great equalizer, especially for small businesses who are flocking to it like . . . well . . . social butterflies. According to the just-released j2 Global® Small Business Survey, networks like Facebook and LinkedIn often give small businesses a louder mouthpiece and more of an opportunity to efficiently engage with customers.
More than one in three businesses (39 percent) that responded to the survey indicated that a quarter of their marketing strategy now focuses on social media; 26 percent say it accounts for more than half their strategy.
Delving deeper, 37 percent of the respondents pegged Facebook as the most important social media platform for their business. LinkedIn and Google+ ranked second and third at 24 and 18 percent respectively.
It's interesting to note that the popularity of social media networks varied widely by industry. According to the survey, Facebook ranks highest with restaurants, consultants prefer LinkedIn, medical professionals have gone gaga over Google+, e-commerce businesses rely on Twitter and YouTube is the top choice of technology firms. Sadly for the fans of the social sharing site Pinterest, it registered as barely a blip in the most valuable business platform competition, garnering support from only 1 percent of the respondents (perhaps because it's the newbie in the social media milieu).
In addition to social media savvy of small businesses, the survey also indicates that mobile is on the move within this demographic as their owners embrace mobile technology to reach new markets and operate more efficiently. Focusing on small business use of mobile apps and the iPad, the survey found that:
- 38 percent of users currently leverage five or more mobile apps to run their business
- iPads are used for email, web browsing, document management, product demonstrations and sales, phone and video communications, and online fax
- The food service sector is driving particularly high adoption of POS and fax applications, which is attributed to taking and processing pick-up and delivery orders.
"Small businesses have always been a driver of economic growth," says Mike Pugh, a marketing vice president at j2 Global. "Seeing their continued optimism, as well as their adoption of mobile technologies and social media, is a promising sign.