In a new study, j2 Global took a look at small-business owners to find out more about their mobile habits, specifically the mobile technology they could and couldn't live without in the workplace, and whether they're actively pursuing mobile marketing strategies for their businesses.
Mobile Tech In The Workplace
The results show that when it comes to technological changes in the workplace, small businesses love their smartphones and tablets, and are ready to ditch their landlines (23 percent) and fax machines (27 percent), and replace them with cloud-based components, saving some companies $1,000 or more a year.
While these stats shed some light on where technology is going in the workplace, another part of the survey shows that small-business owners aren't approaching everything about mobile that aggressively. Turns out that small-business owners are much slower to adopt new mobile apps—especially when it comes to marketing.
Marketing Gets Social (Slowly)
How small-business marketers reach their customers is changing, but there are signs of caution when it comes to snapping up the next bright and shiny app. Only 14 percent of those polled said they planned to bring mobile marketing into sharper focus and seek out new best practices in 2014.
Meanwhile, almost half the owners in the poll (44 percent) said they planned to stick to tried-and-true email marketing techniques in the next year. By that they mean using a traditional email campaign and leveraging that audience to share a brand message on social networks. Nothing revolutionary there, and when it comes to those "social networks," most small businesses are referring to Facebook. Among the respondents, 70 percent cited a heavy emphasis on that social network's mobile app for business development. Twitter and YouTube weren’t far behind, coming in second and third in terms of apps for marketing, but others didn’t fare as well. Sixteen percent said they would use Instagram for building business in 2014, while 3 percent said Snapchat figured into their marketing plans.
Those smaller percentages suggest that small businesses are skewing away from decidedly youth-oriented platforms. “It's not surprising Snapchat has low adoption,” says Rebecca Lieb, digital advertising and media analyst for Altimeter Group. “The app is all about images ‘disappearing’—generally the last thing marketers would want. Frankly, I'm surprised the number is as high as 3 percent.”
As for Facebook and Instagram, the immediate future looks to be bright, or getting brighter. “Of course Facebook is the go-to tool,” Lieb says. “Adoption is so high, both on mobile and desktop platforms. Instagram will gain traction, in 2014, as the company builds out its marketing offerings.”
What About Pinterest?
The j2 Global survey answers didn't bring Pinterest into the mix, when it comes to social media platforms on the respondents' radar for 2014. But that doesn't mean it should be discounted.
A recent ShareThis report has pegged Pinterest as one area of growth when it comes to social networks. According to the study, shared content on Pinterest was up 19.2 percent in the past quarter, compared to a 14.7 percent increase for Facebook and a 7.6 percent drop for Twitter.
As you move your business into 2014, it's important to keep your eye on the trends so you don't get left behind. The cloud and mobile marketing are clearly on fellow small-business owners' minds.
James O'Brien, PhD, covers business, technology, travel, food, wine, home improvement, writing, and news. His new book on writing, The Indie Writer's Survival Guide, is available at Amazon.com.
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