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Second Quarter 2012

Opinion Poll: Is Social Media Part of Your Plan?

Once each quarter KCSourceLink and MOSourceLink invite area small business owners to share their opinions and expectations on small business issues.  This quarter we compare their thoughts with those from July of 2011.  We also asked panelists about their usage of social media.

Panelists responding to the survey are entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to Office Depot. This quarter’s winner is Kristen McLain.

Questions or Comments?  Please contact us at 816-235-6500.

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Use of Social Media

Just over 60% of panel use social media for their businesses. Facebook is the dominant platform of choice, however many panelists currently use more than one social media platform.  The breakdown mirrors social media useage  for the general population.  Facebook is one of the oldest platforms and therefore has a larger audience.  Pinterest and Meetup are newer and still evolving.

It's interesting to note that, while the majority of businesses said social media has benefited their company, nearly a third have not noticed any outcomes.  This leads to a couple of questions:

  1. What’s the strategy? Remember how your favorite childhood super heroes had their own unique combination of strengths? Superman could fly, Spiderman shot webs out of his wrists to leap around town, and Wonder Woman had her own invisible glass jet.

    The varied super hero strengths were at the root of many playground arguments; which hero was the strongest? Social media platforms may not provide super hero strength, however they all have their own unique strengths for small business marketing strategies. To get the most out of any social media platform you must first have a clear picture of how each platform engages current and potential customers. What is more important for your business, engaging current customers, listening to the needs of potential clients, or creating general brand awareness?  For more information on the superhero powers of different social media platforms:
  2. How should a business owner measure the effectiveness of social media initiatives? As our panel shows, metrics for tracking increased exposure are somewhat straight forward (increased website traffic, growth in social media friends or followers, etc.). Tracking increases in sales and lead generation may be a bit more challenging. Here are a few resources to shed more light on the subject:

Growth Expectations

It is generally accepted that entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic people.  Why would someone venture out on their own unless they felt they could conquer the world?  Survey Panelists continue to hold an overall optimistic view of the economy, and are even more optimistic about their own business ventures.

90-Day Growth Expectations:  More Hiring, Less Growth

Expectations for growth in the next 90 days were down when compared to expectations in July 2011.  Nearly 70% of panelists expect to see a sales increase in the upcoming quarter, down from 79% in July of last year.  About a third of panelists expect to see sales stay the same, up from 23% this time last year.  A small percentage (6%) expect to see a decline in sales during this quarter, whereas none of the panelists anticipated a decline last summer.

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In contrast to sales growth expectations, more companies are likely to hire in the upcoming quarter (39%) than they were last summer (35%).  The trend to keep employees continues, as none of the business panelists felt likely to lay off employees in the near future.  

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Business expansion plans remained virtually unchanged from last summer.

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Outlook for the Current Year and Next Year

When asked to compare expectations for the current year to the previous year, panelists felt the current year will be better for both their business as well as for the small business community in general.

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Panelists were also asked if they expect 2013 to be better than 2012, for both their business and the small business community in general.  The panel was significantly more optimistic about their business outlook than they were this time last summer.

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