Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true. Lester R. Bittel, The Nine Master Keys of Management
This seems to be especially true when it comes to getting business value out of social media. We recently wrapped up fielding for our joint SMB Group-CRM Essentials “2011 Small and Medium Business Social Business Study,” in which we surveyed 750 SMB (small business is 1-99 employees; medium business is 100-999 employees) decision-makers regarding their use, plans and perceptions about social media.
Although SMB interest and adoption of social media to assist with a variety of business functions—from generating leads to product devlopment—is sky-rocketing, the question remains of how and where SMBs are actually deriving business value remains. Our study took an in-depth look at the specific activities and functions that SMBs are using social media for.
While Laurie, Sanjeev and I are just beginning to immerse ourselves in this very rich gold mine of data, one thing is clear: SMBs that use social media in a “strategic and structured way” to interact with customers and prospects are much more likely to be deriving benefit from their social media investments than those who are using social media in an “ad hoc, informal” way.
Today, SMBs are most likely to be actively using social media to help with marketing and sales functions–including generating more web site traffic, generating more leads, connecting with people who aren’t yet customers, improving market awareness for their brand, reputation enhancement and creating more/better interaction with customers.
As shown on Figure 1, survey results show that those that have a more formal and structured strategy are more likely to be satisfied or very satisfied with the outcomes than those that are using social media in an informal, ad hoc way. For instance, among small businesses:
- 39% of respondents using social media are very satisfied/satisfied with the results of using social media to “create more/better interaction with customers/prospects,” as opposed 24% of those using it an ad hoc manner.
- 37% of structured users are very satisfied/satisfied with using social media to generate more web site traffic, compared to just 14% of ad hoc users.
- 37% of structured users are very satisfied/satisfied with using social media to improve market awareness for the company, in contrast to 16% of ad hoc users.
Figure 1: Comparison of Small Business Satisfaction with Social Media for Business Activities: Structured vs. Ad Hoc Users
While we have about 30 other questions and a seemingly endless array of cross-tabs to mull over in terms of the study, one thing is already crystal clear: To get the most business value from your social media investment, you need to pause and plan—in addition to playing with—social media activities.
For more information about this study, click here.
Co-authored by: Laurie McCabe and Sanjeev Aggarwal, SMB Group