By Daryl Wilcox

Over a third of SMEs use social media on a daily basis to promote their businesses, new research has revealed.

A survey of 269 companies conducted by Daryl Willcox Publishing found that half (54%) used social media — and 35% of these said they posted updates every day to platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. A quarter of companies updated every few days, while 17% used social media platforms weekly.

Almost three quarters of the companies experimenting with social media claimed they used LinkedIn (73%) the most, compared to Facebook (64%) and Twitter (63%). Of those who did not reach customers via social media, more than a third (35%) blamed a lack of time, 31% said their customers didn’t use it while 24% didn’t understand it.

Multiple reasons businesses gave for using social media included networking (68%), attracting new customers (63%) and raising brand awareness (61%). The research also found that 14% admitted to using social media simply because others were doing it and 12% said they were engaged ‘just for the sake of gathering followers’.

In contrast to big brands using incentives such as money-off vouchers to develop and grow social media audiences, 83% of SMEs said they did not use such incentives to attract followers, friends and fans. Despite this, 60% said social media was having a positive impact on their business. 46% reported an increase in brand awareness and 36% said they had attracted new customers.

“The number of companies participating in social media on a daily basis shows the growing importance of this marketing channel,” said Daryl Willcox, founder of Daryl Willcox Publishing. “The fact that 60% have reported a positive impact on their businesses shows SMEs are becoming increasingly receptive to the benefits.”

The survey also found the use of social media by SMEs is still in its infancy, with more than two-thirds using it for less than a year.

Other forms of marketing still take precedence over social media — around half of the total sample carried out email marketing, search engine optimisation for their websites and direct mailing. More than a third (34%) used online press release wires to distribute their news.
The proportion of SMEs using social media has doubled since Daryl Willcox Publishing, which helps small businesses raise their profile in the media, last conducted research into SME use of social media in December last year.