A quarter of UK small businesses (24%) use Facebook to market their organisations, but more than a third of them (37%) say they don’t think it has helped their business in any way.

The survey of 1,000 small business decision makers by Constant Contact also found that just 21% of respondents believe they are doing a good job using Facebook to market their business.

However 22% of businesses that use Facebook said that they found new customers through the social network, while 12% credited it with generating repeat sales. Furthermore, one third (31%) say they have seen value in spreading the word about special offers or new products.

Constant Contact’s figures are slightly lower than those included in a survey by Basekit in May. It found that 36% of UK businesses now use Facebook to attract new customers.

Looking at how SMEs market themselves on Facebook:

  • 42% are engaging with fans by responding to posts on their Facebook Timeline.
  • 59% use Facebook to post updates about products and services on their Facebook Timeline.
  • 15% ask people to ‘like’ their page to get vouchers and offers.
  • 14% answer customer service issues.
  • 9% conduct polls or ask questions.

One of the main reasons that SMEs are dissatisfied with their social media marketing is a problem with analytics.

Two-thirds (66%) of those whose businesses use Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics either because they don’t have time or it’s too complicated and hard to understand.

Among the 26% of respondents that are measuring results and success, 40% are looking for better ways to do so.

The news that small businesses use social networks for marketing and customer acquisition will come as good news to Facebook and Twitter as they have both been making efforts to lure SMEs to their ad platforms.

In January Facebook announced that it would be giving away £4.2m of free advertising to SMEs across Europe as part of its Ad Boost programme. Then in March, Twitter launched a self-serve ad platform for SMEs in partnership with American Express.

The aim for both networks is to convince SMEs to pay for advertising rather than relying on free brand pages.

David Moth

Published 3 August, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (8)

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garry clinton

What was the measurement criteria, that the survey based their findings on. What was the Key Performance Indicators used (if any) to support the findings?

about 6 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

I'd be interested to know how long these business owners have been using Facebook and how much work they've really put in to it. Too often business owners give up on social media marketing before it becomes truly useful. It's a long term process.

about 6 years ago



Totally agree with you Nick Stamoulis, building a presence on SM takes time and effort and posting occasionally messages or pictures is not enough. Indeed it'd be interesting to know what kind of action those SME undertook before answering the survey.

about 6 years ago


Michelle Carvill

Having trained over 1200 SMEs in the past 12 months around social media for business. The businesses that come to these training courses with Facebook Pages set up mostly don't know what they're doing with them. They've never heard of 'Edgerank' and so the information they put out is usually driven by their traditional marketing methods - so they simply push traditional messages into a 'conversational' channel.

We've got a lot of educating and learning to do before we fully understand how to leverage the social platforms. I think what this study illuminates is that most that are doing it, aren't doing it well enough right now.

about 6 years ago


Simon Quance

Completely agree with you both (Nick and Michelle) - but it's also a fact that Facebook just isn't the right network for all SME's (or indeed brands). That doesn't imply they can't develop a meaningful social presence in a better suited space - but it does mean that social media professionals need to make the right recommendations for clients. That includes going against what their client says they "want" (if insights say so) - and not just recommending what the agency or consultant can sell & deliver. Lots of learning - all the time for everyone!

about 6 years ago

Tamsin Fox-Davies

Tamsin Fox-Davies, Small Business Marketing Mentor at Constant Contact

Hi Garry, Nick – appreciate your comments. In this particular round of YouGov research, the length of time that small business owners had been using Facebook was not specified. As you rightly point out it's a long term process that involves some trial and error to discover what works. It's disappointing that many SMEs get disheartened when they don't instantly have hundreds of followers –that is something we tried to get across in our infographic: small businesses overestimate what is needed for success. When it comes to social media marketing, small efforts really can make a big impact in driving engagement that leads to new and repeat customers. In fact, in my experience working with small businesses, most are doing way better than they think!

Garry I think your question is bang on and gets to the crux of the problem – what is the measurement criteria for being successful on Facebook? Fans, comments, engagement, sales leads? Really, the answer is that it varies. When I work with small businesses, I encourage them to identify the one or two key performance indicators that are most important to them and then to map an action plan against them. Over time, their metrics and tactics may change, but focusing on a critical few at the onset helps keeps it all manageable – a really important consideration for busy small businesses that have many responsibilities besides marketing. If you want to see more of our comments on the research you can see them here:


about 6 years ago


Primary Position

Epic. We've been saying this for years. Too much noise and 'free' advertising on Facebook wears users down. Advertising and direct marketing is tyring - people prefer pull marketing over push.

about 6 years ago


Kris Neelamraju

"Two-thirds (66%) of those whose businesses use Facebook admit to not using any form of analytics either because they don’t have time or it’s too complicated and hard to understand."

Bingo! That's the root cause of all inaction. SMBs need a simple tool that measures their strengths and weaknesses, and helps them correct course in a matter of ..... 60 seconds!!

That's right. 60 seconds. Any analytics dashboard that demands more time from a Facebook Page owner is just wasting time. SMB owners feel they are better off selling stuff directly than wasting time on Facebook insights. Any tool that presents a visual score card and points to area of improvement in minutes will surely help this TG.

almost 6 years ago

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