The third wave of the Small Business Success Index, by Network Solutions and the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, reports social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year. Small businesses are increasingly investing in applications including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
Small Business Social Media Sources and Usage
Social Media Exposure
% of Small Businesses Using
Company page on social networking site
Post status updates and/or articles of interest on social networking sites
Build network through sites like LinkedIn
Monitor positive/negative feedback about own organization on social networks
Have blog on areas of expertise
Tweet about area of expertise
Use Twitter as customer service channel
Source: SBSI/NetSolutions, February 2010
Key social media usage highlights (% of respondents)
Dr. Alan Glazier, CEO and Founder of an eye and vision care center, said "... I was forced to consider alternative options to keep my business visible... with a very small investment in social media marketing, I was able to generate new business opportunities... (and) most importantly, my marketing budget has been reduced by more than 80%... "
61% of the respondents use social media to identify new customers. The biggest expectation small business owners have from social media is expanding external marketing and engagement including identifying and attracting new customers, building brand awareness and staying engaged with customers.
50% of small business social media users say it takes more time than expected. While social media adoption has doubled in the last year, there are still some roadblocks to small businesses fully exploiting its potential. Another 17% feel that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet. Related to this, only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it.
Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland, says that "Social media levels the playing field for small businesses... "
Other key findings from the December 2009 Small Business Success Index:
Small businesses experience positive effects from the economic downturn:
Building online presence continues to be key focus for small businesses:
Customer service the biggest strength of small business owners:
Connie Steele, Director at Network Solutions, concludes that "... social media can be the best friend for small business owners who constantly seek new ways to maximize productivity while keeping costs low... "
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