Small and medium-sized businesses are doubling down on digital marketing platforms as a way to reach new audiences and grow their businesses, according to a new Hello Alice Research Report on digital marketing trends in 2022.
Hello Alice surveyed a sample of the more than 800,000 small business owners on its platform. Our goal? To learn more about how small businesses are leveraging digital platforms for growth. The research focused on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat as the primary digital marketing platforms used by small businesses.
Among the SMBs surveyed, the majority of those currently leveraging digital marketing platforms have been in operation for less than five years. Additionally, most are businesses that sell products, particularly in the beauty and self-care industries, and are more likely to pursue digital marketing. Finally, most SMBs report using multiple platforms to reach their digital marketing goals.
When evaluating the underlying motivations of SMB digital marketing efforts, three key trends emerged.
Key Trend #1: Affordability Is a Top Concern for Small Business Owners Choosing a Platform
First, the majority of SMBs leveraging digital marketing platforms are new or emerging businesses that value affordability above all else.
Facebook came first in terms of SMBs’ perceived value for their marketing dollar. That said, 45% of SMBs who use digital platforms don’t engage in any paid marketing, relying solely on organic efforts.
In sum, SMBs said they find the most effective organic reach on:
- Facebook (68%)
- Instagram (66%)
- TikTok (51%)
Key Trend #2: Creative Storytelling Is Key for Small Businesses
Of course, storytelling is a highly effective marketing tool. However, this is especially true for small businesses seeking to forge a connection between consumers and their brand.
In response, digital marketers are looking for easy-to-use features that enable dynamic storytelling in a variety of formats. Approximately two-thirds of small business owners said that TikTok helps them tell stories in a creative way (67%), outpacing established competitors including Instagram (65%), YouTube (58%), Facebook (55%), and Snapchat (51%).
Key Trend #3: Platform Sentiments Are Shifting
To date, small businesses see Facebook and Instagram as their go-to marketing platforms.
In fact, a majority of SMBs credit their success on these platforms and growth in the form of:
- hiring new employees
- opening new locations
- reaching new audiences
However, this is changing as Facebook usage declines and TikTok usage dramatically grows. Business owners are taking note. In turn, they are shifting their platform strategies to meet customers where they are.
Unsurprisingly, word of mouth recommendations are driving this shift significantly. For example, 43% of small business owners are now likely to join TikTok because they’ve heard reports of efficacy from fellow business owners. By contrast, only 23% said the same about Facebook.
These peer recommendations correspond with digital platforms that allow SMBs to introduce their brands and engage their audiences in more dynamic ways.
Of the five major platforms, SMBs indicated that they are most excited about their growth potential on Instagram (72%) and TikTok (67%).
How to Explain the Growing Popularity of TikTok
Despite being the newest platform, TikTok overwhelmingly stands out as an emerging key player. SMBs said it was the platform they were most excited to use in the future. Among SMBs already on TikTok, 78% said they plan to increase their investment in the platform — the highest rate of all platforms surveyed.
The survey asked SMBs what qualities and features they valued in various digital platforms. Key factors that set TikTok apart from competitors include:
Ease of Use
Of SMBs using TikTok, 81% said it was easy to use, and 73% said it was fun to use.
Audience Reach & Engagement
Interstingly, when ranking the most valuable aspects of using TikTok to promote their businesses, “reaching new audiences” came out on top, followed by the “ability to get discovered” and “reaching the right audience for the business.”
Notably, while 58% of SMBs using TikTok have been on the platform for less than six months, they’re generating fast results. For instance, fifty-nine percent said TikTok helped grow revenue. Meanwhile, 42% said TikTok helped them safeguard their business against the impact of the pandemic. Finally, 32% said TikTok helped them raise capital.
Interestingly, the most common reasons SMBs said they were not on TikTok were that it seems too complicated and that the platform has a narrow, youth-focused audience. This indicates a clear need for TikTok to better educate small businesses about its creative tools, ease of use, and broad audience reach.
More Resources & Context
About This Digital Marketing Trends 2022 Report & Surveys
Hello Alice conducted three surveys to better understand how Hello Alice SMBs use digital platforms to market their businesses.
The first survey compared five platforms:
We covered three broad categories:
- Platform Use
- Impact and Value
- Business Objectives
Data was collected about personal and business demographics as well. The second and third surveys focused more specifically on these three broad categories as related to users’ experiences with TikTok.
About Hello Alice
Hello Alice is a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. With a community of more than 750,000 business owners in all 50 states, Hello Alice is building the largest network of owners in the country. Further, Hello Alice tracks data and trends to increase the success rate for entrepreneurs.
Our partners include enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve small and medium business owners to ensure increased revenues and promote scale.
A Latina- owned company founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, we believe in business for all by providing access to all owners, including: women, people of color, military-connected individuals, the LGBTQ+ community, persons with disabilities, and every American with an entrepreneurial spirit.