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More than three in 10 (32%) small-business advertisers plan to include social media in their marketing mix in the next 12 months by using a page on a social networking site such as Facebook, Linkedin or MySpace, according to the latest wave of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor study.

The study also explored other forms of Web 2.0 marketing and found that 39% of SMBs plan to include customer ratings or reviews on their websites, 23% plan to incorporate video on their websites, and 31% plan to include links or ads placed on social sites or blogs.


Current Use Remains Low

Despite the significant number reporting plans to use social media, far fewer SMBs appear to be putting it into practice today.? For example, only 9% of SMBs report using Twitter to market their business in the past 12 months. Similarly, only 23% have used social sites in the past 12 months, only 16% have incorporated video into their website and 29% have included customer ratings and reviews.

Fewer Established SMBs Tweet

The study also revealed that the adoption of social media – including Twitter – by SMBs is more prevalent among younger businesses. While 16% of businesses that are three years old or younger say they use Twitter, only 2% of those in business 11+ years report doing so:


The same phenomenon is true for plans to use pages on social sites. While 44% of businesses that are three years old or younger say they plan to market this way, only 22% of those in business 11+ years say they will.


BIA/Kelsey’s research is the latest in a string of unaffiliated surveys with different methodologies that have attempted to gauge social media use among SMBs. Recent research from Citibank about how small businesses market themselves seems to support BIA/Kelsey’s findings that many SMBs are not currently using social media. However, another survey by Internet2Go and MerchantCircle? discovered? a growing segment of online small-business owners who are aggressively promoting their businesses with social media, especially on Facebook and Twitter.

About the study: Study results come from the latest wave of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor, the firm’s annual tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses, conducted with research partner ConStat since 1999. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs, which include first- and second-tier markets. Local Commerce Monitor Wave XIII was conducted in August 2009 via an online survey of 1,092 SMBs, comprising a core sample of 302 SMBs, plus SMBs from three ‘super vertical’ categories: home/trade services, professional services and financial services.

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