SMB Digital 2012: Making Social Work For SMBs

To kick off the afternoon of Day 2 of SMB Digital Marketing, a duo of social media experts explicated the fluid dynamics of delivering social media to SMBs.

Mike Nabasny, Director of Midwest Sales, Wildfire
Pamela Springer, CEO, Manta

Moderator Jed Williams Kicked off the session with some BIA/Kelsey data indicating that Facebook pages are used more widely (52%) than all other local marketing options. This outstrips search, display, print, broadcast, and others (though it should be noted that FB Pages are free).

Digging deeper, new customer acquisition is the leading reason for businesses to establish a Facebook at 42 % of LCM survey respondents. Next on the list is building awareness (31%), building community (19%) or retaining customers (5%).

Wildfire’s Mike Nabasny chalks this up to the cultural saturation of Facebook. But more important is its influence he says, citing his company’s data that 81% of users indicate that posts by friends directly influence purchase decisions.  This is difficult to emulate in  paid advertising he claims.

In that respect, a sweet spot exists at the intersection of earned, owned and paid media (Wildfire emphasizes the “earned” part). This is driving Facebook’s monetization where paid ads can get extra distribution through social sharing (and vice versa in the case of Sponsored Stories).

Other takeaways include the fact that people on Facebook want to stay on Facebook. In other words, ads that link out to a website don’t perform well.  So engaging users within Facebook to drive activity back to a website requires a different way of thinking and creative incentives.

One example is Wildfire’s practice of running variable rate coupons, redeemable only upon conversion on an advertiser’s site. The inherent serendipity and game mechanics drive appeal in that some users receive large rewards, while most received a modest discount.

“This strategy converts very well,” says Nabasny.

Manta’s Pam Springer supported many of these points using data from a recent study her company produced. Among other notable takeaways, more than 50 percent of SMBs are now spending their networking time with digital media, going up to 64 percent next year.

And like the aformentioned LCM data, the Manta study showed that the top priority for digital SMBs is new customer acquisition.  This is supportive of the need for services to help businesses be more effective with their social media marketing.

Though Facebook pages are free, such tools to help SMBs achieve these customer acquisition goals represent good monetization opportunities for third parties. For this and many other reasons, we’ll continue to see this market grow.

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