Wave 18 of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor study of new SMBs – those who identified themselves as just getting started – for small and medium businesses found that social media has its place in reaching and communicating with customers. While these new SMBs rely on digital and social channels for their advertising and promotion efforts, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter were the top social media channels for connecting with customers. In contrast, email marketing and company websites are the most popular digital channels for customer contact.

Survey respondents reported that their top overall channels for reaching out to customers were:

  • Facebook Page – 59.5%
  • LinkedIn – 40.3%
  • Email Marketing – 32.5%

While some channels are more heavily relied on for advertising purposes, new SMBs use social media a bit differently. In addition to promotional posts and advertisements, respondents may utilize customer lists for greater engagement while tracking likes on their Facebook Page as a way to judge the overall engagement of customers. Social media has also become an important way to increase brand recognition and attract new customers in a way that email marketing and a static website simply cannot do.

When asked how involved these new SMBs wanted to be with the online advertising they purchased, the survey found that the vast majority wanted to take care of it themselves, while more than 38% wanted some form of assistance. More specifically:

  • 5% took the DIY approach
  • 7% opted for paid “do it with me” assistance
  • 1% wanted it done for them

Based on these findings, companies offering managed social media products have an opportunity to work with new SMBs on their future social media campaigns.

The survey also found that mobile channels have the highest perceived ROI among respondents, even though they use social and digital channels most frequently. Despite their low percentage of the overall marketing budget, mobile marketing applications could be an area of opportunity for SMBs to investigate in the coming months.

What the survey made abundantly clear is that these new SMBs are happy to expand digital advertising operations while continuing to explore and embrace social media solutions for customer acquisition, engagement and retention.


Ackley, Suzanne. New SMBs Choose Social Media to Advertise, Retain and Acquire Customers; BIA Kelsey. February 13, 2015.