Small businesses are turning to certain social media tools in increasing numbers, finds AT&T in March 2012 survey results. Facebook was the most popular tool among small businesses in 2011, up 7.3% year-over-year to 44% of respondents, followed by LinkedIn, which was used by 31%, up 24% from 25% a year earlier. And while those using Twitter dropped marginally from 19% to 18%, the use of location-based services almost doubled from 5% to 9%. Indeed, one-quarter of those using location-based services said the application is important for sales generation, a dramatic rise from just 2% in 2010. Just 4% reported using daily deal sites.
A November 2011 report from Constant Contact found much more widespread usage of social media among small businesses: according to those survey results, 81% of the small business respondents were using social media, with Facebook and Twitter the most common tools of choice, at 96% and 76% of social media users, respectively.
Meanwhile, the AT&T survey finds that websites remain the most widespread online marketing tool among small businesses, used by about three-quarters in 2011, roughly the same as a year earlier. About 3 in 10 said they have a mobile website. Interestingly, although male owners are about 12% more likely than female owners to rely on their company website for marketing (65% vs. 58%), female owners are 41% more likely than their male counterparts to rely on social media (48% vs. 34%).
Overall, 3 in 5 small business owners surveyed plan to spend either as much or more on online marketing this year as compared to 2011.
Data from the “Small Business Technology Poll 2012″ indicates that 2 in 3 small businesses use tablets, representing 17.5% growth from 57% a year earlier. Most are not making tablets the heart of their operations, though: only roughly one-quarter say they use their devices to manage their businesses. By contrast, three-quarters use their tablets to check email, while 3 in 5 do so to surf the internet. Other tablet uses are much less common, including for social media (25%), online banking/finance (24%), web/video conferences (19%), or as a cell phone (18%).
About the Data: The AT&T results are based on an online survey conducted in November 2011 of 1,232 small business owners and/or employees responsible for Information Technology. Small businesses were defined as having between 2 and 100 employees.
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