2009 SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Survey results: Revealing how retailers view, use social media

As we announced in Part 1, we are now releasing the full results from the SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Survey, complete with expanded and detailed analysis available to our All Access SNEWS subscribers. This week, in Part 5, a large number of retailers revealed they’re beginning to find value in social media sites, but there are still those who are on the fence or completely opposed to using Facebook and Twitter.

In Part 5 of the 2009 SNEWS® Outdoor Retailer Survey — where outdoor specialty retailers get to speak their minds and offer industry observations and commentary on what is great, good, not so good and desperately needs improvement in the industry — this installment focuses on retail acceptance and use of social media tools. The full survey results, complete with expanded and detailed analysis of each category’s results, have been presented in sections to our All Access SNEWS subscribers over the last few weeks. If you missed Part 4, click here to read the survey summary “2009 Annual SNEWS Specialty Outdoor Retail Survey: Looking at trade show attendance.”

Curious as to how outdoor specialty retailers were utilizing social media and social networking sites, we queried them about it at the end of the 2009 survey. We wondered if retailers were using social media and social networking websites, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, for their businesses, and if so, which ones. We also asked them how beneficial social media was to their businesses and, if they were not yet using social media, why not.

Nearly 53 percent of our respondents told us they were using Facebook — making it the clear winner in terms of preferred social media applications for retail business. Twitter was a very distant second with 18 percent. LinkedIn was being utilized by 5 percent, and MySpace managed a paltry 4 percent showing. As for those who spurned social media, 36 percent told us they found little or no use. They either were not currently active but might consider it in the future, or were not now active and never would be.

Below, we’ve selected a number of comments from the many we received that best summarizes the use of social media by the outdoor retail community:

The “yes’s” have it, but it’s clear many retailers are still trying to find their way. And, they are deciding whether or not Facebook and other social media sites are worth the effort and cost in terms of time. However, of those who do see clear value, capturing the attention of youth and pulling them into the storefront seems to be a focus.

Over one-third of our survey respondents reported they are saying “no” to social media. Why? Some feel their own website provides sufficient exposure. Others see social media as a resource and time suck. Only two of the nays indicated they might start exploring social media in the future.

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