For the third consecutive year, social media was the top marketing channel used by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), according to 2016 survey of advertisers by BIA/Kelsey.


Among 1,000 SMBs surveyed, 77.6 percent (up from 73.2 percent last year) say they use social media to promote their businesses.

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“SMBs are sophisticated in their use of social media as a key way to target and continue conversations with customers. They have moved beyond social presence to social ads and video,” said Celine Matthiessen, VP of Analysis and Insights, BIA/Kelsey. “Video on social is becoming more popular and our SMBs see the highest ROI of social channels from Snapchat and Video on Facebook and Twitter.”

As social media has become its own ecosystem, BIA/Kelsey’s survey measures usage of 14 different social media platforms, including four within Facebook and three within Twitter. SMB Facebook pages continue to dominate as the most popular social channel. However newer social entrants are growing quickly, especially Snapchat.

Among SMBs surveyed:

  • 45% Have a Facebook Page
  • 25% Use Facebook Ads
  • 24.2% Use LinkedIn
  • 23.9% Use Twitter

Called the Local Commerce Monitor Survey, it is BIA/Kelsey’s ongoing tracking survey of small and medium-sized businesses. It is conducted online with research partner Henne Group. Since 1999, the survey has measured where SMBs are spending their advertising and promotional budgets and how their media usage and spending habits are evolving.

LCM Wave 20 (LCM20) tracked more than 55 different media and platforms used by SMBs for advertising, marketing and promotion. The media fall into 10 top-level categories: online, traditional, mobile, local coupons, social, video, broadcast, local directories, giveaway items and community sponsorships.

The 2016 survey was expanded to a larger sample size, diversified across categories, market types and age cohorts, and features more verticals, offering more granular findings. The questionnaire included new questions covering additional services (cloud services and automated marketing); more concise mapping of products to channels; tactical sales information (best days and day parts to make sales calls); reasons for preferring DIY models; and factors that determine advertising and marketing budget.

For this study, SMB is defined as a business having from 1 to 100 employees. Local Commerce Monitor draws its sample of business respondents from a mix of nationally scoped MSAs. LCM20 was conducted in July 2016 via an online survey of 1,000 SMBs. The findings were weighted to reflect the incidence of SMBs by size bracket, according to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. More details on the LCM survey can be found on the company’s website: