New Vocus Survey: Path to Influence – An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media

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Statistically Valid Survey of 400 SMB Decision Makers Shows SMBs Spend on Average $845 a Month on Social Media, Use 3 Different Tools, and Accounts for 25% or More of Marketing Efforts

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SMBs chosen path to influence

More and more is there's finally this acceptance that social media not only isn't going away it's an essential element of the marketing mix

Vocus (NASDAQ: VOCS), a leading provider of cloud marketing software announced today the results of a new survey of 400 decision makers at small- and medium-sized businesses (SMB) and their use of social media. Vocus teamed with Duct Tape Marketing to analyze the data and produce a report on the results -- Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media -- which shows among other things, that SMB spending is set to rise. The survey is freely available online.

“Overall sentiment in this study is right on target and it’s a very positive message,” says John Jantsch, marketing consultant, bestselling author, speaker, and creator of Duct Tape Marketing. “What I've been noticing more and more is there's finally this acceptance that social media not only isn't going away, it's an essential element of the marketing mix and the real challenge now is to figure out how to integrate it into the total online and offline marketing presence.”

Thirty-six percent of SMBs spend a median amount of $845 a month on software tools for social media management – but 32% of that group also spends a $1,000 or more per month. Separately, another 22% of SMBs use consultants to aid with their efforts, though many SMBs have simply added social media to the list of existing duties of marketing employees. The median number of tools used is three and social media accounts for 25% or more in terms of overall marketing efforts for the vast majority of SMBs.

Frustration but also value
Analysis of the data indicates that SMBs are finding value in social media – yet it also demonstrates divergent philosophies on the best path to finding that value. SMBs are acutely aware of the challenges with marketing through social media and though no single barrier stands out, many smaller nuisances add up to overall frustration. Overcoming the perception that social media is “free” was a frequently cited challenge.

Referral traffic the top measurement metric
While this study clearly demonstrates that SMBs are focused on tangible business outcomes, SMBs are also capturing a myriad of metrics to measure the results of their social media efforts. The measurement of increased traffic to a web site was the most commonly cited metric with 76% of SMBs measuring referral traffic from social platforms.

Facebook is king, but Google+ not far behind
Facebook ranked as the top social site currently used by SMBs, but ranked second to last, leading only MySpace, on future intent suggesting near saturation. Google+ proved to be the dark horse with 44% of SMBs saying they currently use Google’s social network, however it topped the list in terms of future plans – tied with Instagram at 14%.

Other key findings include:

o    Social media is helpful: 87% of SMBs say social media has been somewhat helpful or helped a great deal; 10% said it had no effect.

o    Perception of influence varies: 40% of SMBs prefer a smaller but highly engaged audience; 27% would prefer a huge following with little engagement.

o    Healthy share of marketing efforts: 77% of SMBs indicate social media makes up 25% or more of their total marketing efforts.

o    Sharing is common use: The most common use of social media is to share information 91%; only 46% see social media as a place to handle customer service issues.

o    Doubling up on duties: 73% of SMBs have added social media to the existing duties of a marketing person.

o    Spending set to rise: 84% of SMBs plan to increase their use of social media at least a little in the future.

The report is freely available to anyone interested in reviewing the study by downloading a copy from the Vocus blog:

The survey was conducted by an independent research firm from July 18-28, 2012. The survey looked at organizations with annual revenue between $5 and $50 million. No organization had more than 1,000 employees.

About Vocus
Vocus is a leading provider of cloud marketing software that helps businesses reach and influence buyers across social networks, online and through media. Vocus provides an integrated suite that combines social marketing, search marketing, email marketing and publicity into a comprehensive solution to help businesses attract, engage and retain customers. Vocus software is used by more than 120,000 organizations worldwide and is available in seven languages. Vocus is based in Beltsville, MD with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. For further information, please visit or call (800) 345-5572.

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