New Study Highlights Small Business Digital Marketing Trends – JCK

A new study by Hello Alice, a multichannel platform for small businesses (SMBs), dives into how SMBs are leveraging digital platforms to grow their businesses. The report, which surveyed SMBs across the country, identified three key trends for how they’re using digital marketing for growth: affordability, creative storytelling, and alternative platforms.

The report’s look into demographics turned up some interesting, though perhaps not surprising, findings. To start, most of the SMBs leaning on digital marketing are young—roughly between 2 and 5 years old—indicating that many older businesses aren’t utilizing social media platforms as much or as often. Businesses selling goods (particularly in the beauty and self-care industries) are reportedly also more likely to use the platforms than businesses selling services.

Of the SMBs using digital marketing platforms, most are said to be using more than one, with Facebook and Instagram being the most common, but YouTube and TikTok are coming up fast from behind. (It should be noted that Twitter does not appear anywhere in this report, though it doesn’t seem to have been listed as an option on any of the study’s inquiries, which is in its own way quite telling).

Of the businesses surveyed, 87% say they use Facebook; 75% are on Instagram; 28% and 26% are on YouTube and TikTok, respectively; while just 7% say they use Snapchat.

Of the three key trends found in the report, affordability takes top priority: As the majority of the SMBs polled are relatively new or emerging companies, perceived value for their marketing dollar was ranked the No. 1 concern. Top value goes to Facebook, according to 59% of those surveyed, while Instagram followed closely behind with 53%, when asked to agree with the statement that “this platform has paid advertising options that are affordable and effective for my business.”

A reported 45% of SMBs using digital platforms don’t use paid marketing at all, meaning they rely only on organic results. Of those, 68% agree that they find the best results organically via Instagram, followed by 66% on Facebook, and 52% on TikTok.

The report suggests that if affordability is a concern for businesses, it would be most prudent to discover which apps offer the best chances of organic success before considering paid advertising, and then assessing the ad solutions and pricing of different platforms to determine which can meet both their goals and budget.

The second key trend found by the report for SMBs was wanting the ability to tell their stories in creative ways, in an effort to connect with consumers. They’re looking for easy-to-use features that enable this storytelling in a variety of formats.

When asked to agree with the statement “This platform helps me tell my small business story in a creative way”: 67% said yes to TikTok; 65%, Instagram; YouTube, 58%; Facebook, 55%; and Snapchat, 51%. While all of those are fairly high numbers, it’s relative newcomer TikTok that’s generating the most interest, giving SMBs unique opportunities (though Instagram is a good competitor) to connect and engage with their customers and potential customers online.

Finally, the report’s third key trend found that platform sentiments are shifting, as SMBs seek new ways to demonstrate their digital presence. While Facebook and Instagram have been the go-to marketing platforms for most SMBs to date, Facebook usage has decreased dramatically according to a recent survey (down 33%), while TikTok has seen major growth (a 105% user growth rate over the past two years was reported).

According to the report, while Facebook and Instagram are still perceived to have more tools, features, effective paid advertising initiatives, and integrations with other services compared to other platforms, SMBs see them as having helped them establish their digital presences. (Facebook and Instagram, at 57% and 56%, respectively, were cited as the most successful platforms for establishing businesses in some way, whether that be hiring employees, opening new locations, reaching new audiences, etc.) Now, however, SMBs seek to grow their reach and revenue—for that, they look to future use of marketing platforms. Many business owners cited word-of- mouth recommendations for their plans to use TikTok, coming out on top with 43% of those surveyed saying they’re likely to join the platform due to reports of efficacy from fellow business owners.

TikTok was the overwhelming common thread throughout the report, generating the most perceived interest among businesses surveyed. When asked which digital marketing platform they were most excited to use for business, TikTok won out with 30% (followed closely by 28% for Facebook and 26% for Instagram). When asked about future plans to use each of the platforms for business, 78% of business owners currently using TikTok said they plan to increase their investment (Instagram came in second, with 67%).

The report dives further into TikTok, with some insight that might be relevant for business owners looking to join the platform—and it’s certainly compelling! View the report in its entirety here.

Photo via Hello Alice

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