36% of SME use Facebook, 60% are digital dinosaurs

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Over one third of UK small businesses say that they now use Facebook to drum up new customers – more than local directories such as Yellow Pages and Thomson and substantially more than print or online advertising. That’s the findings of a survey by website builder BaseKit. They found that 36% of small businesses in Britain use the social network to market themselves, where just a quarter say they rely on local directories as a source of new customers.

It’s not really a surprise that the Yellow Pages and Thomson are less attractive to businesses these days. Any copies I receive along with BT’s telephone directory go straight into the recycling bin unopened. Why when I have a computer and a smartphone would I ever want to refer to a paper directory which only covers a tight geographical area? Most of the businesses I want to contact aren’t based in Thatcham where I live so the print directories are worse than useless and slower than a smart phone.

Small businesses are shifting their marketing to lower-cost media like Facebook and Twitter and away from legacy media like the directories. They tell us that one-to-one marketing is their most efficient and most successful way of generating new business – the fact that Facebook has become the number one source of new business within just a few years of its creation is remarkable.
Simon Best, founder of BaseKit

Whilst online retailers may struggle to figure out how to best use Facebook to generate sales, the same isn’t true for other forms of businesses. If you provide services, anything from Window Cleaning to Accounting, or have a business such as restaurants, hotels or holiday lets then you should be figuring out how to use Facebook and Twitter to work for you.

The report also highlights how many businesses are becoming “Digital Dinosaurs” with 60% of UK small businesses yet to get online. Of those that are online 11% say their websites use out of date technology and a further 11% describe their company’s online presence as either “poor” or “embarrassing”. That’s a pretty sad state of affairs for the country who’s consumers spend more online per head of population than anywhere else in the world!

16 Responses

  1. Service companies that benefit from word of mouth business and that do not actually sell physical goods online can very clearly benefit from social media.

    I struggle with the idea that social media benefits those who want to offer hard physical goods through these channels in return for a direct payment.

  2. I tried to explain to a Yell representative that their advertising was not good value anymore.

    I serve a large geographical area with our photography and videography business and to advertise in all of those on Yell is exorbitant…

    …Why?

    Because they keep insisting that I pay for every “city/town” I need to reach.

    I then explained that that was why I use Google Adwords instead…

    They have based their internet model on their old phonebook model…

    And it just does not work for a company that sources customers or stock over a large geographical area.

    So I would add the Yell website to the above, as a potential advertiser…

  3. Reading the above again 60% of UK small businesses are yet to get online therefore 40% are online. And of those around 36% use social networking which is around 14% of the total.

    Agree it is confusing but maybe it was deliberately reported that way by Basekit to make it appear that social networking is more popular than it actually is?

    It is a bit unfair to call businesses that are not online digital dinosaurs. There are a massive number of small businesses serving local communities for example that don’t need an online presence.

  4. we used to have a full page add in the yellow pages , we may now only have the linage entry that all receive , as I cant remember the last time we looked in a phone book of any description

  5. we used to have a full page add in the yellow pages , it was the ebay of the day, we may now only have the linage entry that all receive , as I cant remember the last time we looked in a phone book of any description

  6. which brings us back to the social media being effective debate, yellow pages really worked in its day and we could have place items in every spin off local directory newspapers magazines etc etc , and most of them would have been a waste of money, social media is no different one or two will be effective most will just be a waste of time

  7. General Motors are to stop advertising on Facebook as they have decided Facebook adverts have little impact with consumers. They will continue to have Facebook pages which cost nothing.

    It is claimed that around 60% of Facebook users in the USA are under 19 so a poor demographic for GM anyway.

    Also don’t you have to be of a certain age before you can buy online?

    It is all very well marketing on Facebook but what impact does this marketing have?

    How many new customers actually turn up and say “I saw your advert on Facebook so I will buy from you/use your services”?

    Daft as it may seem Yellow Pages and Thompson still offer some credibility as users believe that those who advertise within have at least been through some sort of vetting process or received a visit from a sales rep prior to the advert been placed. At the very least money has changed hands between the advertiser and the directory.

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