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11/3/2010
12:39 PM
Michele Warren
Michele Warren
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SMBs Set Sights On Social Media Marketing

When I hear "online advertising," I think about those annoying pop-up ads that get in my way whenever I'm trying to read something on the Web. But that's probably because I spend most of my time online searching for information and jumping from site to site. For the social networkers of the world, visiting the Internet is probably a different story, right?

When I hear "online advertising," I think about those annoying pop-up ads that get in my way whenever I'm trying to read something on the Web. But that's probably because I spend most of my time online searching for information and jumping from site to site. For the social networkers of the world, visiting the Internet is probably a different story, right?They log on to, say, Facebook, chat with Aunt Nilda (who lives halfway around the country, or the world), check in with a few friends, maybe find out what cousin Sue thinks of her new iPad, and then do a little virtual shopping. Their online experience is the equivalent of a buggy ride into town on "Little House on the Prairie" (Is anybody out there old enough to remember that show?): They talk it up with the neighbors and stop into the general store for some flour, tea, and peppermint sticks.

So, it's no wonder that SMBs are planning to ante up more resources for online marketing in the coming year. Imagine signposts along the Ingalls' route advertising a brand new kind of jawbreaker that lasts for two hours or a deep discount on oats for the horses. OK, maybe I'm taking the analogy too far. But maybe not.

A study by Zoomerang and GrowBiz Media revealed that small and midsize businesses expect to spend more on both print and online advertising, with a special focus on the latter. The biggest increases? Website, e-mail, and social media marketing. According to the study, 17% of respondents expect to increase their website marketing budgets; 15% plan to spend more on e-mail ads; and 13% expect to allocate more money to marketing on social networking sites.

Already, 34% of the 750 businesses surveyed said they use social media as part of their marketing efforts. The three networking sites they use most are Facebook (cited by 80%), LinkedIn (37%), and Twitter (27%).

"This area of marketing is poised to see an incredible uptick in the next year," says Alex Terry, general manager of Zoomerang, a Web-based survey tool. "It's remarkable to see the new ways that small and midsize businesses are adapting different technologies to make the most effective and creative use of their budgets."

Of the businesses surveyed, 89% employed 1 to 25 people; 11 states were represented across the country, including New York, Florida, Ohio, Texas, and California; and 84% of respondents were the decision makers at their respective companies when it comes to marketing.

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