Research : Very few Hispanic SMB’s engage their customers through Facebook

What: A YaSabe study reveals  that Spanish-Speaking U.S. Small Businesses are 25% more likely to have a Facebook page. But only 12% of these businesses have active Facebook pages.
Why it matters: Despite all the talk about social networks like Facebook being critical for small businesses, the study shows that few Hispanic businesses see heightened interaction with their customers through Facebook and fewer still are successful using social media to attract new customers.

As consumers spend an increasingly large amount of time engaging on social media, there is a consensus in the local advertising industry that social networks -like Facebook- are a critical tool for small businesses. However, a new study by YaSabe reveals that relatively few small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) see heightened interaction with their customers through Facebook and fewer still are successful using social media to attract new customers.

YaSabe undertook a study to understand how SMBs leverage social media to reach and engage their consumers, and especially how Spanish-speaking SMB’s compared to others. The study analyzed over 500 SMBs in five major US markets. Fifty percent of SMB’s selected have Spanish-speaking owners/staff.

Facebook Presence

YaSabe’s study revealed that only 27% of all small businesses sampled had a Facebook page; when analyzing Spanish-speaking businesses and merchants, these SMBs were 25% more likely to have a Facebook page compared with non- Spanish-speaking businesses (34% vs. an overall average of 27%).

Engagement, Activity, and Likes

The study also focused on the level of engagement the SMBs had on their Facebook pages. YaSabe analyzed activity, such as comments and updates, and Facebook ‘likes’ to measure social following. The study revealed that less than 1 in 4 businesses had ever made a post to their Facebook page, and fewer than half had shown any activity whatsoever within the last 30 days. Only 12% of all businesses sampled had actively used their Facebook pages to engage with customers within the last month. Spanish-speaking businesses were even less likely to have shown activity within 30 days (only 40% vs. an overall average of 46%) despite US Latinos over indexing in their use of social media .

Even though engagement with the social media site continues to grow, especially among Hispanic consumers, fewer than half of SMBs with Facebook pages had accumulated more than 100 “likes”, the token by which Facebook decides whom it will notify when a business uses its page to broadcast a post. For businesses with small followings, these pages are of little value.

This is not to say that small businesses aren’t using Facebook. Rather, the study shows that the small numbers of SMBs that do utilize social media do so with little success. In order for social networking to become a major channel for small businesses to engage with existing customers and acquire new ones, SMBs must commit to actively increasing likes and posting information and special offers continuously. Since small business owners are busy running their businesses, this is unlikely to happen. So while Facebook claims that 16 million businesses have a Facebook page, the reality at present is that few SMBs are active on Facebook.

When asked by Portada whether Facebook is a relevant business networking site as opposed to be more of a consumer social network, a YaSabe spokesperson said that ” I agree that Twitter and LinkedIn are good social networking tools. Their focus thus has primarily been on B2B and for business networking. However, Facebook remains, at least for local advertising, the consumer-oriented social media. At the moment, Facebook is considered the dominant B2C social media platform.”