Manta released an online survey of 614 of its SMB users (who claimed their profiles). The survey was conducted in August and asked a number of questions about “online networking” (essentially the use of social networks) and associated perceptions of value.
Here are some of the questions and responses, and my commentary:
What is the most valuable benefit that you and your business gain from online networking activities?
- Being found by new customers — 35%
- Referrals — 21%
- Ability to target and engage with new prospects online — 14%
- Other information that helps you grow your business — 9%
- Connections with other business owners — 8%
- Ability to establish myself as an industry expert — 7%
- Business partnerships — 3%
Comment: SMBs always tend to value new business over other considerations. However customer retention/loyalty (arguably the true value of social networking) was not among the available responses here.
Over the past year, approximately what percentage of your customers found you through online or social media channels (website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Groupon, etc.)
- 100 percent — 5%
- 75 percent — 13%
- 50 percent — 18%
- 25 percent — 42%
- 0 percent — 22%
Comment: This response is based on perception and may thus be inaccurate. Because “website” is a choice, rather than purely “social media,” this result should really be seen as a response to “What percentage of your business is coming from the Internet?”
Does your business have a presence on Facebook?
- Yes, and I find it valuable — 42%
- Yes, but I don’t find it valuable — 30%
- I used to, but didn’t feel it was worth it — 5%
- No — 23%
Comment: 72% of these respondents said they had a presence on Facebook, though 41% of that group didn’t see any value in it. And roughly 58% of the total respondents to this question expressed what amounts to a negative attitude toward Facebook, either not seeing any value or not having a presence.
Which online/social channels are driving the most business for you? (top three requested)
- My company web site — 24%
- Facebook — 19%
- LinkedIn — 12%
- Google+ — 10%
- Manta — 9%
- Twitter — 5%
- Pinterest — 1%
- Groupon Less than — 1%
- My company mobile site/app — 2%
- Other online/mobile channel — 8%
Comment: Facebook was the most “effective” of the social networks in driving leads. However “my company website” trumped all other channels. The responses here may be highly unreliable because these SMBs may be overvaluing their websites as a lead source. They may also have an incorrect or incomplete perception of where leads are actually coming from.
These results cannot be seen as broadly representative of the total population of SMBs as a whole (there is no representative sample essentially). However they may be directionally representative in terms of attitudes and/or behavior. Manta puts a quite different spin on these results than I do.
What’s your take on these results? Anything particularly surprising or interesting? In my view the most interesting thing here is the generally negative attitude toward Facebook.