Small Business Leaders Prefer 'Passive' Social Media, But Are Looking to Future

Once "Social Media" became the phrase-du-jour, small business owners have been quick to incorporate it as a daily source for information-gathering. However, many immediately realized that navigating the social media landscape often requires two things the average small business owner simply does not have: ample time and extra resources.

As a result, says a recent study, owners are leaning more towards "passive" methods of using social media. Last month, Ben Hanna of MediaPost delved a little deeper to explore which strategies were favored. Of over 1,700 small business owners currently applying social media efforts on a daily basis, here were the top five resources:

1) Webinars/Podcasts

Webinars and podcasts can inform small business leaders of industry trends, new products and services. They can also act as a source of continuing education by providing additional training — all without incurring the cost of time and travel to do so.

2) Ratings & Reviews

When it comes to the buying process, small business owners often read what others recommend, and factor those reviews into their purchasing decisions. This is why social media marketing has become such a big deal in the last few years.

3) Company/Brand Pages on Social Networking Websites

Vendors are flooding social networking sites like Facebook to give updated, timely information about their products, and small business owners are taking notice.

4) Company Blogs

Small business leaders love blogs to gain relevant insight into a company, assuming the entries are well-written, topical, and offer a glimpse into the character of the business.

5) Social Media Search

Because not all information can be found on typical search engines, small business owners are searching directly through Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. As the owner of a Houston Internet marketing company, I see this quite a bit among my friends and partners around town.

As you can see, these methods are performed through "passive" social media outlets — the company puts the information onto the web for others to discover. At the end of the day, I think it's pretty evident that small business leaders aren't all about the "social" aspect of social media, and rightfully so. They want information, and they want it fast. The number of Twitter followers a company has means nothing if they can't find the exact piece of information they are seeking.

However, it must be noted that the more "active" methods of using social media were not far behind the preferences above, according to MediaPost. Online forums and Q&A sites fell right after the top five. As instantly gratifying as the internet can be, it can't provide everything to everyone. Small business owners may find it more time-effective to go the "active" route, submitting questions to a company or forum and getting a personalized response in return. If companies begin to devote more social marketing resources toward actual interaction with their customer base, we may see the small business owner shift to a more "active" stance on social media.

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