EMPLOYERS® national poll finds more than half of small businesses believe social media presence is important, but only 16 percent tap its power

Fifty-nine percent of small businesses currently leveraging social media say it provides value to their business

Reno, Nev. – March 31, 2010 – The majority of small businesses (52 percent) believe having a social media presence is important for companies, according to the Small Business Opinion Poll commissioned by EMPLOYERS®, America’s small business insurance specialist®. The national poll also reveals that although there are nearly five 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.

A quick online search of how small businesses can generate value by integrating social media strategies to help grow their businesses yields page after page of useful tips, insights and advice for those looking to boost their marketing and customer-engagement efforts. Social media experts extol the business development 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 in modern society, EMPLOYERS’ small business poll indicates that a relatively low percentage of small businesses are effectively tapping these opportunities. The total still represents a significant critical mass of small businesses at 4.75 million.

Small Business Opinion Poll Snapshot:

EMPLOYERS’ 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. And while the percentage figure is relatively low today, 7.7 million small businesses represent a significant business opportunity for insurance providers to engage small businesses on social media platforms. It also illustrates that even though the majority of small businesses believe that having a social media presence is important, many are unaware of the valuable information available to them via social media channels as it relates to business insurance and other subjects relevant to running efficient, successful businesses.

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.

About the Small Business Opinion Poll

The survey commissioned by EMPLOYERS sampled 500 owners or managers of small businesses with 1-99 employees. Data was collected through telephone interviews during the period November 6 – 17, 2009 at the 95% confidence level. The sample is stratified across business size and industry grouping, including manufacturing/construction, transportation/ communication, wholesale/retail, financial services, or personal/professional services businesses. The survey was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation.

Contact Information

Media Contact: Lauren Meckstroth, The Abbi Agency
(775) 446-4678 or lauren@theabbiagency.com

Company Contact: Mike Paquette
(775) 327-2562 or mpaquette@employers.com

Investor Relations Contact: Adam Prior, The Equity Group, Inc.
(212) 836-9606 or aprior@equityny.com

About Employers Holdings, Inc.

EMPLOYERS® and America’s small business insurance specialist® are registered trademarks of EIG Services, Inc. Employers Holdings, Inc. is a holding company with subsidiaries that are specialty providers of workers’ compensation insurance and services focused on select, small businesses engaged in low-to-medium hazard industries. The Company operates throughout the United States, with the exception of four states that are served exclusively by their state funds. Insurance is offered through Employers Insurance Company of Nevada, Employers Compensation Insurance Company, Employers Preferred Insurance Company, Employers Assurance Company and Cerity Insurance Company, all rated A- (Excellent) by the A.M. Best Company. Not all companies do business in all jurisdictions. See employersstage.wpengine.com and www.cerity.com for coverage availability.