I don’t know if you’ve heard, but social marketing is quite the hot ticket item these days. How hot? Super hot. In a study conducted by SMB social marketing startup Roost, local businesses now prefer social marketing to search.
Of the 200 small, local businesses polled, a full 71.4% said that social marketing is their preferred marketing channel, compared to 57.9% who prefer organic search marketing (search engine optimization), and a measly 15% who said their favorite marketing channel is paid search marketing. Some 10% claimed to prefer review sites like Yelp, while a surprising 20.7% said they typically turn to print advertising.
Additionally, 87.3% of businesses believe social marketing is either “very important” or “somewhat important.” And fully 84.1% said that Facebook is the most effective social marketing platform for their business, compared to just 8.3% who said LinkedIn is their preferred social marketing channel, and 7.6% who named Twitter as the most effective platform.
Is it really all that surprising that business prefer social marketing over search? At this point, everything is social, and the highest quality Web content is rising to the top through word-of-mouth via social media. The traditional search algorithm is no longer needed to weed out the good content from the bad.
But best of all—it’s free.
Indeed, when asked why they prefer social marketing to other forms of marketing, the most common answer (46.1%) among SMBs was: “saves me money.” You can’t beat free. Meanwhile, another 45% said that social marketing “keeps me top of mind,” and an equal number said “it’s a fun way to interact with people.” Some 40% said that it’s a great way to “build community around my brand,” and another 30% said “helps me communicate directly with my customers.” And a heartbreaking 27% said “My customers are there so I have to be.” Forcible social networking is sad.
“What we see with these results is that social media marketing is an incredibly valuable part of a local business’s arsenal for success,” said Alex Chang, CEO of Roost. “There’s a low barrier to entry because it’s free and easy to get started with it. It’s also fun and a great way to interact with customers, many of whom prefer social media to other marketing channels. And most importantly, it works. These are all very important factors to local businesses who often have little time and budget but who want to attract new customers and grow their businesses.”
The biggest challenge facing social marketing? It’s too hazy. To be specific, SMBs stated that their number one challenge in their social marketing efforts is their inability to accurately measure success. How do you quantify likes? The cold reality is that you can’t. You can only hope that those likes and fans translate into real-life customers.