'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

    2 small business social media surveys: dramatically different results. McCabe Marketing analyzes why

    VerticalResponse shared its survey results today, yes literally on Halloween!

    By Maureen McCabe

    NOTES: I wrote this blog based on VerticalResponse’s October 30th blog and infographic.  I did not see their Press Release posted late on Oct 31st PST.

    This blog was updated in late 2014, after I saw their second survey with metrics which includes a link to the new infographic. The text in red highlights the later survey.

    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.

    NOTE: I have neither been compensated by SMB Group or anyone to write this blog. 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 2012 is to be more vigilant on LinkedIn. 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 (402) 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.

    A small business in the U.S. is defined as less than 500 employees versus 100 employees in Canada.  – Sources: SBA.gov for U.S. and Statistics Canada, July 2012 

    The majority of my clients have less than 20 employees. As a marketing consultant, I work exclusively with privately held small business owners and a few startups.

    Before hanging out my marketing shingle, I had worked at Gallup Consulting (not in the polling division) and combined with my political background, the importance of methodology is critical.

    The exact question and sequencing of each one 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 personally active on it? (This would indicate their perceived activity.) Do you believe it’s important? Each question elicits a different response.

    I like to draw the analogy to the following type of ‘leading’ questions:

    1. Do you believe in the death penalty?

    2. Did you know a young disabled girl, in a wheelchair while in her backyard playing “Barbie dolls” with a friend – was brutally murdered by a killer on parole?

    Followed by this question:

    3. 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. An aside, 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 and colour coded as follows:

    • VerticalResponse 2012 Survey (As per above, 93% have 100 or fewer employees),
    • Vertical Response 2013 Survey (It’s interesting that surprising how all of the numbers dropped slightly!)
    • SMB Group: (24-99 employees)
    • SMB Group: (100-999 employees)

    Perhaps someone will create a nifty infographic for me!

    Facebook: 90% 88% vs. 25%  38%
    Twitter: 69% 67% vs.12% 19%
    LinkedIn: 50% 45% vs. 14% 21%
    Pinterest: 29% 35%
    Google Plus: 32%  31%
    Company Blog: 55% 50% vs. 9% 17%
    YouTube: 2012 unspecified 35% vs.  9%  19%
    Yelp: 12%
    Average weekly social media usage: 43% 39% for six hours or more! Unspecified by SMB.

    VerticalResponse Small Business Survey Reveals Social Media Trends.

    Enjoy reading the following colourful (which is the correct Canadian spelling for our American friends) and easy-to-understand infographics. Bravo VerticalResponse! (See, I can say something great about them.)

    2013 Survey Infographic  – published March 2014.


    2012 Survey Infographic – published Oct 30, 2012.

    The bottom-line:

    Some bloggers or VerticalResponse folks 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 the 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, educate and remind small business owners that they need a plan – a Marketing Action Roadmap™

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


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