There is an ongoing shift toward social media marketing among SMEs according to TAN Media, following an analysis of a poll by Groupon comparing SME plans for social media marketing compared to traditional marketing methods. This article is copyright 2013 The Best Customer Guide.

The majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) are looking to improve their social media presence in 2013. In fact, 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 favour of digital channels including m-commerce and email marketing. Overall, only 8% of SMEs expected to reduce their spending on m-commerce and email marketing in 2013.

"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," said Adam Rock, managing director for social media marketing firm TAN Media. "Treating the consumer as an individual and not as part of an audience is increasingly important to a good social media presence."

The survey found 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. But, according to Rock, SMEs must get the right balance between marketing and communication requirements if they want to survive and remain competitive, and deciding when to interact in person or use alternative channels is a decisive factor.

However, one in seven SMEs was found to be missing out on the benefits of social media channels as they admitted that they are currently unable to structure these promotions properly.