'Witch' social media small business survey do you believe?
  • 2 small business social media surveys: dramatically different results. McCabe Marketing analyzes why

    November 01, 2012

    Social-Media-Surveys-Small-Business-McCabe-Marketing

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

    By Maureen McCabe

    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 that spends six hours per week on social media, present company included! They reported that 43% of small businesses surveyed spent 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:

    • It was a random sample of small and medium businesses across 18 different industries and non-profits.
    • Business size: 350 very small businesses (1-19 employees), 200 small businesses (20-99 employees), and 200 medium businesses (100-999 employees).
    • The survey was in field in June 2012.
    • An analysis will be done on the weighted sample to represent actual employee distribution in the 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 choose 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 them is critical. Unlike SMB Group’s transparency, they did not release the fundamental data and questions, for example. Do you have a Facebook page? How often do you use it? Are you active on it? (This would indicate their perceived activity.) Do you believe it’s important? All of which are different questions. I like to draw the analogy to this type of ‘leading’ questioning:

    • Do you believe in the death penalty?
    • Did you know a young disabled girl, in a wheelchair whilst in her backyard playing Barbie dolls with a friend – was brutally murdered by a killer on parole? Followed by the following question: Do you believe in the death penalty? 

    Need I say more?

    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.

    Results are shown in the following order: VerticalResponse: (93% under 100 employees), SMB Group: (24-99 employees), and SMB: (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: Unspecified, 9% vs. 19%
    Average weekly social media usage: 43% for six hours or more! Unspecified by SMB.

    Enjoy reading the following colourful (which is the correct Canadian spelling for our American friends) and easy-to-understand infographic. Bravo VerticalResponse! (See, I can say something good about them.) They released their scary results on Halloween.

    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 discussion of social media usage among small business owners of which 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, it will educate and remind small business owners that they need a plan – a road map.

    Please don’t dive into the social media pool without knowing its depth or your business may face irreparable damage!

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