Ongoing BIA/Kelsey Study Finds Social Media Spending Highest for SMBs

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    Small to midsize businesses (SMBs) are of course likely to target a more local customer when it comes to advertising. So it’s honestly not a surprise that the BIA/Kelsey Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) study shows that just over 55.1 percent of SMBs use Facebook to promote their businesses.

    Social media in general can reach local consumers quickly and effectively for most SMBs. In fact, of the 35 different media surveyed via 546 SMBs, 74.5 percent said they use social media for marketing. Steve Marshall, director of research for BIA/Kelsey, said in a release that the latest numbers show that the platform has taken on a major role in SMB marketing:

    “It’s evident from LCM 18 that social media has become a pivotal platform for SMBs. Social media is not only number one in terms of utilization by SMBs, it is also number one in share of SMB media spending.”

    One interesting blog post from BIA/Kelsey, though, poses the question of how efficient social media ads are for SMBs. The blog cites a recent Wall Street Journal post that reported how Facebook ads have become more costly for many small businesses. According to WSJ, Facebook recently announced that its average price per ad had gone up 123 percent compared to last year, while its ad impressions had gone down 25 percent. For SMBs with a more limited budget, it seems ads for the social media platform may not be the way to go. However, the LCM study found that 20 percent of those SMBs run Facebook ads or promote Facebook posts.

    The BIA/Kelsey blog post goes on to explain that even though the paid ad format for Facebook may not prove cost-effective for some SMBs, it appears to be working for others, and the company’s ad revenues are up nearly 67 percent.

    Social Media

    BIA/Kelsey’s LCM study involves ongoing research into the advertising and marketing usage of SMBs. The media usage surveyed includes the following categories:

    • Online, including display ads and blogs
    • Traditional, including newspaper ads and direct mail pieces
    • Mobile, including SMS and search ads
    • Local coupons, including both online and print
    • Social media, including Facebook and Twitter
    • Videos, including YouTube and website videos
    • Local directories, both online and in print
    • Broadcast
    • Local giveaway items
    • Community Sponsorships

    The survey has been performed in “waves,” and this segment included several new additions to the list: Pinterest, Instagram, streaming audio and promoted Tweets. According to TV Technology, other new questions included coverage of “social engagement, click fraud, agency relationships, use of mobile devices in-store, customer incentives and use of transaction data.”

    Kim Mays has been editing and writing about IT since 1999. She currently tackles the topics of small to midsize business technology and introducing new tools for IT. Follow Kim on Google+ at or Twitter @blumoonky.

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