8 August 2023 – New research has found that social media is now the top sales generator for 28% of small businesses. It replaces other sales channels such as e-commerce and actual stores.
A study surveying 2,000 UK adults, 500 of which have their own business, has shown that social media generates more sales for small businesses than any other channel. The research was conducted by Opinium on behalf of BT.
The study showed that social media has overtaken other channels, such as e-commerce and physical stores, as the main sales generator for 28% of small UK businesses.
Facebook Primary Social Media Channel
Because social media now generates more sales than other channels, its popularity as marketing tool has grown compared to other tools. Using social media to market your business is now vital if a small business wants to thrive.
Some of today’s most successful businesses were built on social media. Over three quarters (76%) of today’s business owners rely on social media platforms or an online presence to drive sales. At a time when business owners face rising costs, social channels can offer small businesses a competitive advantage: helping them reach, and engage with, new audiences – and ultimately drive sales.Chris Sims, Managing Director of Small and Medium Enterprises at BT
BT’s study has shown that 25% of small businesses use organic/non-paid social media posts to increase their sales. 22% pay for social media posts to increase their sales income.
More traditional marketing strategies are even less used today by small businesses. Only 11% of small UK businesses use partnerships to generate sales and the same percentage produces and distributes leaflets.
But not all social media platforms are used equally. The study found that Meta-owned platforms are the biggest sales generators for small businesses. 30% said their main social media platform to generate sales is Facebook.
Instagram, also owned by Meta, is the second most used platform with 18% of small businesses using it to increase their sales. Twitter, now X, is used by 10% and TikTok by 9%.
It’s likely that there will be a shift away from Facebook and Instergram in future, as many young people don’t use these platforms as much. TikTok is very popular with young people, so it is likely that it will become more important as a sales generator over time.
But it does look like social media is destined to play a big part in marketing for big and small businesses. So any small business that wants to thrive will have to look into getting the right knowledge and skills to make it work for their business.
21% Of Small Businesses Feel Overwhelmed By Social Media
While it is clear that the use of social media has become inevitable for small businesses, 21% have said they feel “behind the times”. 16% even feel stressed, anxious or confused about how to use social media for their business.
Each social media platform has its own rules, guidelines and algorithms, which can leave small business owners overwhelmed. Advertising rules also change frequently, adding yet more complexity to using social media to generate sales.
Negotiating these various social media platforms can be daunting. So it’s no surprise that 58% of small business owners said that they would benefit from digital skills training. 60% said they wished these skills had been taught to them in school.
Digital marketing skills are now a ‘must-have’ for small business owners so that they can grow awareness and build stronger relationships with potential customers.Patricia Bright, Entrepreneur and Influencer
BT’s survey also asked what skills small business owners want training on most. 24% said that they struggle primarily with targeting the right audience online, and would like training for this issue.
Gaining an understanding of how social media works and how to create a brand online is what 21% would like support with. But it’s not just the actual use of social media to grow their businesses that the respondents want support.
19% want more advice on understanding cyber security. It is important for small business owners to understand the dangers and know how to protect their business.
Non-existent or wrongly implemented cyber security policies can have a huge impact on small businesses.
While it can be a challenge to learn how to use social media for business, it is definitely worth it for small businesses. Social media platforms can help small firms to reach new customers and engage with them.
It is also a great tool to build a brand image and reputation for small businesses that will help them grow and increase their income. Using social media as a sales generator is a must for small businesses today.