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Higher-Spending SMB Marketers Really ‘Like’ Social Media

Oct 23, 2014

SMB ‘Plus Spenders’ plan to allocate significant time and 17.4% of marketing budgets to social media this year; Findings to be featured at LEADING IN LOCAL: Interactive Local Media, Dec. 3-5, San Francisco

CHANTILLY, Va. (Oct. 23, 2014) – The data coming out of the latest wave of BIA/Kelsey’s Local Commerce Monitor (LCM 18), an ongoing study of the advertising behaviors of small to medium-sized businesses, points to robust social media usage by higher-spending SMBs. According to the study, SMBs that spend more than $25,000 annually on advertising and promotion plan to allocate 17.4 percent of their marketing budgets to social media in the next 12 months, that’s up from 15.6 percent in 2013 and 10.5 percent in 2012—a dramatic increase in two years. These “Plus Spenders,” on average, spend nearly $79,000* annually on advertising and promotion.

Among SMB Plus Spenders, 81.3 percent use social media to promote their businesses (up from 76.6 percent in 2013), with 41.5 percent reporting they spend a minimum of 10 hours per week on social media and 17.5 percent reporting they invest at least 25 hours per week on social media.

“Plus Spenders represent a highly desirable segment of the SMB market for local media and marketing companies,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. “The data indicate they are diving into social media, demonstrating familiarity and courage in leveraging the channel to connect with their audiences. It’s particularly remarkable that usage of social media by Plus Spenders is consistently high across all SMB age cohorts—the oldest SMBs are using nearly as much social media as the newer SMBs. This usage pattern—consistent behavior across SMB age cohorts—is highly unusual.”

Driving the dramatic usage profile for social media is the enormous importance placed by SMB Plus Spenders on customer opinions. When asked to rate the “importance of customer opinions to your business” for 11 different social media platforms, Plus Spenders assigned high importance ratings to most of these platforms. Nearly two-thirds (62.6 percent) rated customer opinions on Facebook as “extremely important” or “very important.”

SMB Plus Spenders are using multiple social media, with impressive showings by Twitter’s promoted Tweets, and two newcomers to the survey, Pinterest and Instagram. Among the top social media platforms used by SMB Plus Spenders are:

  • Google (social or local) – used by 26.4 percent of Plus Spenders
  • Twitter (regular Tweets) – used by 26 percent of Plus Spenders
  • Twitter (promoted Tweets) – used by 20.3 percent of Plus Spenders
  • Instagram – used by 16.3 percent of Plus Spenders
  • Pinterest – used by 13 percent of Plus Spenders
  • Yahoo (social or local) – used by 12.6 percent of Plus Spenders

Adoption of social media by SMBs is among the digital marketing trends that will be highlighted at BIA/Kelsey’s upcoming LEADING IN LOCAL: Interactive Local Media conference, Dec. 3-5, in San Francisco. In a special social media keynote on Day 2, Pinterest’s Head of Partner Online Sales & Operations Joel Meek will address Pinterest’s role and interest in interactive local media, and insights into ways to deeply connect with local consumers.

The program also features keynotes by Randy Wootton, VP, Customer Success Products, Salesforce; Court Cunningham, CEO, Yodle; Allison Checchi, CMO, YP; and a dual keynote by Deseret Digital Media’s CEO Clark Gilbert and President Christopher Lee.

More information about the conference, including the complete agenda, list of speakers and online registration, is available online at:

About Local Commerce Monitor

Local Commerce Monitor (LCM) is BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses conducted online with research partner Ipsos. The survey measures where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving.

The survey covers 50 different media and platforms used by SMBs for advertising and promotion. These media fall into 10 top-level media categories: online (e.g., search, display ads, blogs); traditional (e.g., direct mail, newspapers); mobile (e.g., search, SMS, display); local coupons (print and online); social (e.g., Facebook, Twitter); video (e.g., website videos, YouTube); broadcast; local directories (print and online); giveaway items; and community sponsorships.

Updates to this wave of the survey questionnaire included additions to the list of media (such as Pinterest, Instagram, streaming audio and promoted Tweets), as well as additional questions to cover social engagement, click fraud, agency relationships, use of mobile devices in-store, customer incentives and use of transaction data.

For this study, SMB is defined as a business having from 1 to 99 employees. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs, primarily based on first- and second-tier markets. Local Commerce Monitor Wave 18 was conducted in July 2014 via an online survey of 546 SMBs. The sample consists of two sub-samples, a Core group (SMBs that spend under $25,000 annually on media) and a Plus Spenders group (SMBs that spend over $25,000 annually on media). In Wave 18, there were 300 in the Core group and 246 in the Plus Spenders group.


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About BIA/Kelsey

BIA/Kelsey advises companies in the local media space through consulting and valuation services, research and forecasts, Custom Advisory Services and conferences. Since 1983 BIA/Kelsey has been a resource to the media, mobile advertising, telecommunications, Yellow Pages and electronic directory markets, as well as to government agencies, law firms and investment companies looking to understand trends and revenue drivers. BIA/Kelsey’s annual conferences draw executives from across industries seeking expert guidance on how companies are finding innovative ways to grow. Additional information is available at, on the company’s Local Media Watch blog, Twitter ( and Facebook ( Stay connected by subscribing to the firm’s bi-monthly newsletter.

For more information contact:

Eileen Pacheco
For BIA/Kelsey
(508) 888-7478