When it comes to social media, a lot of small businesses seem to think that it's not worth their time and effort. But as a recent article on the Media Post notes, there's currently a big disconnect between what consumers and clients say they want on social media and what many businesses are delivering.
According to a recent YouGov survey, on behalf of Enplug, consumers are very keen for small businesses to have a social media presence; despite this, however, large numbers of small businesses are failing to meet expectations.
The survey, which questioned 506 small businesses and 1,155 consumers, found that the majority of social media users on Facebook (63%) and Instagram (76%) would view a small business more favourably if they read a positive review on one of their social media pages.
However, more than a third of business owners said they didn't allow users to comment on their business on their social media platforms and a similar proportion thought there was simply no value in having a social media presence.
This seems short-sighted given the huge - and still growing - role social media plays in our lives. As CEO of Enplug Nanxi Liu explains: "It's now a consumer expectation that not only can they learn about a business on social media, but that they can talk with the business - whether it's to troubleshoot a problem or simply give praise."
A similar report carried out last year by Endurance found that the majority of business owners have no social media strategy in place, with 76% commenting that they publish content only when they have time, and 72% saying "we have no plan, we just publish when we feel like it."
While the above findings relate to the B2C sector, the same high client expectations for social media face B2B businesses too. The increasing impact social platforms are having on the B2B buyer's journey highlighted by new insights revealed in the recent B2B Buyers Survey Report, published by Demand Gen.
The comprehensive poll, which accrued data from 173 marketing, sales and IT executives, found that buyers are increasingly looking to social media to connect with industry authorities when it comes to researching buying decisions - the crucial first step in the buying process.
In fact, 75% agreed that social media was used in some capacity when conducting this crucial research into business purchases. It is thought that this increase comes, in part, due to more millennials landing key decision-making positions and looking to follow the template of their own personal buying processes in the B2B buying arena.
B2B buyers are also beginning to mirror consumer buying patterns with 91% agreeing that online reviews are a top factor when choosing between selected vendors; 75% studied conversations and discussion groups on social media to further their knowledge whilst 81% reached out to either third-party authorities to request recommendations or other users for more general suggestions.
The findings of Demand Gen highlight not only the increasing importance of social media in B2B marketing but the demand amongst buyers for impartial information that can be trusted.
The bottom line for both B2C and B2B companies is that it's no longer a question of whether or not to embrace social media, given that customers, clients and buyers are have such a strong preference for companies that do so.
The real question now is whether businesses are prepared to invest the necessary time and and effort into fully professionalising their social media marketing activities. If not, they should seriously consider outsourcing their SMM activities to ensure they have access to the necessary skills and knowledge to meet the expectations of their ever-more demanding target audiences.