Small businesses use social media extensively, suggest the results of a recent Clutch survey of 351 United States firms with fewer than 500 employees.
Overall, 71 percent of the respondents used social media for business purposes, and those affiliated with firms owned by women reported heavier use.
- 86 percent of the respondents using social media posted to Facebook;
- 48 percent used Instagram;
- 12 percent used Facebook exclusively;
- 74 percent of businesses owned by women used social media;
- 66 percent of businesses owned by men used social media;
- 79 percent of millennial businesses owners used social media;
- 65 percent of business owners older than 35 do so;
- 52 percent of small businesses post to social media at least once a day;
- 54 percent of businesses post images or infographics to their social media pages because people process images better than text; and
- 13 percent of companies have no plans to use social media in the future.
The indication that businesses owned by women use social media more “identifies a known personality difference between men and women,” observed Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.
“By nature, women tend to be more social,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
Survey Participant Stats
Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents, numbering 191, were women. The remaining 46 percent, numbering 160, were men.
However, that did not skew the survey’s findings, said Kristen Herhold, a marketer at Clutch.
“The difference was only 31 people, and we find that difference to be statistically insignificant,” she told the E-Commerce Times.
Also, women outnumbered men in the 2010 U.S. population census, Herhold pointed out. (The difference was 1.6 percent of the population, or about 5 million people.)
Age also was a factor that correlated with business use of social media. Older businesspeople were less likely to use it, the survey found.
- 40 percent of respondents were aged 18-34;
- 40 percent were aged 35-54;
- 19 percent were 55 and older;
- 79 percent of millennial business owners used social media; and
- 65 percent of Generation X and baby boomer business users, combined, used social media.
Millennial businesspeople used social media more because they were more familiar with it, Clutch suggested, while older businesspeople lived and worked before the advent of social networking and were less likely to see the need for them.
Leading Social Media Platforms
The vast majority of business social media users posted on Facebook, the survey found. Ninety percent of Generation X and baby boomers used Facebook, as did 82 percent of millennials.
Instagram drew 56 percent of millennials and 40 percent of Generation X and baby boomers, while Snapchat pulled 32 percent of millennials and 20 percent of the older businesspeople.
Millennial business owners were inclined to use Instagram and Snapchat more heavily than their older counterparts because they used them more heavily for personal connections and thus were more familiar with them, Clutch said.
More than half the businesses that used social media shared content or engaged with followers at least once daily, the survey found.
Show Me the Money
“No matter how many employees a company has, businesses can succeed on social media to reach potential customers in ways not possible before the Internet,” Clutch’s Herhold noted.
The survey’s findings raise the question of whether businesses owned by men would profit from greater social media usage.
“The findings really only talk to usage,” Enderle told the E-Commerce Times. “To answer the question, we’d need something on effectiveness.”
There aren’t any definitive statistics to show whether time on social media is wasted, as some think, Enderle pointed out. “All we can tell is that women use it more, but we also know that men dominate business.”
Surviving the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Mess
Small businesses using social media might be hurt by the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica issue. Facebook recently has drawn fire for not doing enough to stop Cambridge Analytica from illegally mining data on as many as 50 million of its subscribers.
As a consequence, people might “not be as willing to interact with a company on Facebook or click on an advertisement,” Herhold noted. “It will be interesting to see how this scandal changes how companies use Facebook.”