Social media marketing replaces traditional ads for small businesses.

The majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are looking to improve their social media presence in 2013, a survey shows.

Groupon, which carried out the poll, found that 58% have plans to expand their brand on social media with the overriding aim of enhancing business activity.

A further 28% of SMEs want to improve e-commerce processes this year, while 17% intend to better support social media channels.

In order to achieve a bigger social media presence, businesses are willing to reduce spend on other traditional marketing methods.

For instance, some 26% plan to cut back on local directory inclusions and 24% will reduce local advertising activity including billboards and posters.

A further 20% propose a reduction in sponsorship in favor of digital channels including m-commerce and email marketing.

Overall, just 8% of SMEs will reduce spend in m-commerce and email marketing this year.

“Social media has changed the relationship between the consumer and brands. It’s more about interacting with the consumer, instant access and trust rather than just offering a service or product.” commented Adam Rock, managing director at social media marketing specialists, TAN Media.

“Treating the consumer as an individual and not as part of an audience is increasingly important to a good social media presence.”

He added that SMEs must get the right balance between marketing and communication requirements if they want to survive and remain competitive.

Deciding when to interact in person or use alternative channels is also a decisive factor.

The survey reveals that 24% of SMEs want to engage with consumers more regularly in order to keep their custom, while 28% regard targeting promotions via these newer channels as an important way of keeping customers on side.

However one in seven SMEs is missing out on the benefits of social media channels as they admit that they are currently unable to structure these promotions accordingly.

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