2 small business social media surveys: dramatically different results. McCabe Marketing analyzes why


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I worked at GALLUP as a marketer (not in the polling division) and learned about the importance of methodology.

Like me, you know that U.S. election polls conducted by the so-called ‘experts’ often get it wrong. In this case, VerticalResponse (which provides e-services such as email marketing, social media, and online surveys) released its small business social media usage survey today, – yes on Halloween! The results are scary, nothing short of incredulous. In fact, it may lead some business owners to believe that they must immediately jump into social media to ‘keep up’ with the competition. Please don’t – you need a marketing strategy and plan.

I’m a small business and start-up marketing consultant in Canada. I don’t know any small business owner who spends six hours per week on social media, present company included! They reported that 86% of businesses surveyed spend six hours or more weekly. Check-out the infographic towards the end of this blog. You can scan it in less than a minute to understand the results.

NOTE: I have neither been compensated by SMB Group or anyone to write this blog. As well, I understand the value of social media – I was ‘found on’ YouTube and interviewed by a journalist from Canada’s largest newspaper The Toronto Star. I blogged about the experience.

About once weekly, I tweet, post on Facebook and Google Plus, comment on LinkedIn – my goal in November is to be more vigilant on LI. I read blogs for personal growth. I spend approximately 18 hours monthly on social media of which 10 hours are spent churning out my educational and highly-read syndicated biweekly blog!

To quote the terse Sergeant Joe Friday from Dragnet, a police show I grew up watching in the 1960s, “Only the facts, ma’am.”

VerticalResponse’s press release indicated very little about its methodology, and in particular the delineation of the company size:

  • There were 462 respondents of which 93% had less than 100 employees.
  • Approximately 43% of respondents were CEOs/owners of their companies.
  • The survey was conducted between September 17 and October 5, 2012.

SMB Group’s 2012 Impact of Social Business in Small and Medium Business Study provided comprehensive details:

  • Random sample of small and medium businesses across 18 different industries and non-profits.
  • Business size: 350 very small business (1-19 employees), 200 small business (20-99 employees), and 200 medium business (100-999 employees).
  • The survey was ‘in field’ in June 2012.
  • Analysis will be done on the weighted sample to represent actual employee distribution in U.S. market

NOTE: In Canada over 75% of small businesses have less than 10 employees – Source: Statistics Canada, July 2012. The majority of my clients have less than 10 employees, as a marketing consultant I work with entrepreneurs, start-ups, and established small businesses.

How did VerticalResponse chose and qualify those surveyed? Were they customers (users of their e-marketing services and thus ‘heavy users’), prospects, or random business owners?

An aside, the exact question and sequencing of asking it is critical. Unlike SMB Group’s transparency, VerticalResponse did not release fundamental data and questions, for example. Do you have a Facebook page? How often do you use it? Are you active on it? Do you believe it’s important? All of which are different questions. I like to draw the analogy to this type of questioning:

  • Do you believe in the death penalty?
  • Did you know a young disabled child in a wheelchair was brutally murdered by a serial killer on parole? (Followed by) Do you believe in the death penalty?

If the respondents were VeriticalResponse’s customers and prospects, then the results are believable. Whereas the SMB Group used a random sample of small and medium business. (Note: both companies included non-profits). Read the dramatically different results and decide ‘witch’ you believe – based on the disclosure, methodology, and of course, your gut, what I refer to as the – believability factor.

VerticalResponse: 93% under 100 employees, SMG Group: 24-99 employees, SMB Group: 100-999 employees. (Perhaps someone will create a nifty infographic for me!)

Facebook: 90% vs. 25% vs. 38%
Twitter: 69% vs.12% vs.19%
LinkedIn: 50% vs. 14% vs. 21%
Company Blog: 55% vs. 9% vs.17%
YouTube: Not specified vs. 9% vs. 19%

Enjoy reading the following colourful (which is the correct spelling for our American friends) and easy-to-understand infographic. Bravo VerticalResponse (seem I can say something good about them!) who released their results today, on Halloween, October 31, 2012.

The bottom-line:

Some bloggers or VerticalResponse may comment or find fault with my assumptions, that is the nature of putting forth one’s analysis. I’m hopeful that this blog will:

  1. Stimulate the discussion of social media usage among small business owners of which over the overwhelming majority have less than 9 employees.
  2. Encourage VerticalResponse to reveal its methodology and delve into the actual number of employees in segments, such as 1-4, 5-9,. 10-19 etc.
  3. Most importantly, remind small business owners that they need a plan – a roadmap. Please don’t dive into the social media pool without knowing its depth or your business may face irreputable damage.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Maureen McCabe
Proven Team Delivers Results. Do you lack the time, resources, or key marketing knowledge and need a marketing strategy and marketing plan to increase sales leads and generate more profits? Since 2007 many established and new small business owners in the US and Canada have worked with McCabe Marketing. Led by Maureen McCabe, they provide affordable marketing strategies and programs by drawing upon an extensive team of professionals customized for each client situation.


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