Poll: 26% of Small Firms Use Social Media for Workers’ Comp Information

March 31, 2010

The majority of small businesses (52 percent) believe having a social media presence is important for companies, according to a poll commissioned by Employers, a small business workers’ compensation insurer.

The poll also discovered that about 7.7 million small businesses, or 26 percent, say they are likely to use social media channels to find information on workers’ compensation insurance.

The 7.7 million small businesses represent a “significant business opportunity for insurance providers to engage small businesses on social media platforms,” the company said.

The national poll also reveals that although there are nearly 5 million small businesses leveraging social media, that figure only accounts for 16 percent of the 29.7 million small businesses in the United States based on figures from the Small Business Administration.

Social media experts extol the benefits of social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and their own Web sites and blogs. As the Internet, e-mail and mobile communications have become widespread, the small business poll indicates that a relatively low percentage of small businesses are effectively tapping these opportunities.

However, the total still represents a significant critical mass of small businesses at 4.75 million.

Of the businesses polled:

  • 52 percent believe having a social media presence is important for a company
  • 59 percent of small businesses with social media presence say it has provided value to their business
  • 16 percent of all polled have a business account (representing 4.75 million based on SBA data)
  • 49 percent say that their social media presence has produced advocates for their business
  • 65 percent with a social media presence say they actively use it to promote their businesses

Social Media Tips

Eight important tips to consider when using social media channels:

  1. Be a Good Listener: Once you sift through the social media noise and find the kinds of people with whom you wish to engage, take the time to hear what’s being said before jumping in.
  2. Think of Social Media as a Conversation Rather than a Marketing Vehicle: In many respects, social media is like a giant room with millions of people in it, talking about thousands of subjects. Your task is to locate the part of the conversation that matters to you and find a way to participate. And, just like a conversation in the real world, if you bully your way in and try to dominate, people will just turn away.
  3. Consider your Objectives: Whether you want to improve awareness of your brand, listen for customer comments about your business, or track what your competitors are up to, it’s important to establish your objectives and focus on them. Social media can be incredibly time consuming if you approach it randomly.
  4. Join the Conversation: You may as well participate, the conversation goes on whether you choose to take part or not. By participating, you get to tell your part of the story.
  5. Inform Rather than “Me-form”: When you encounter a post, or series of posts, that you can add value to, do it. But you will do well to think in terms of contributing to the conversation rather than making a blunt sales pitch.
  6. Understand Your Target Audiences: Knowing the needs and engagement-style of the people you want to connect with will give you a much better chance of having a positive experience with the conversations you join.
  7. Practice Makes Perfect: Refining your social media efforts by testing different ways to improve your engagement with agents and small business owners is a smart approach. Social media is definitely not a one-size-fits-all environment. Find what works best for you.
  8. Work Smart: By using free tools like HootSuite and Google Alerts, you can set up a fairly sophisticated Internet listening program at virtually no cost.

The survey commissioned by Employers sampled 500 owners or managers of small businesses with one to 99 employees last November. The sample includes firms in manufacturing/construction, transportation/ communication, wholesale/retail, financial services, or personal/professional services businesses. The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corp.

Employers Holdings Inc. is a holding company with subsidiaries that are specialty providers of workers’ compensation insurance.

Learn more from Insurance Journal’s Social Media Webcast.

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