Friday, October 23, 2009

Social networks coming up small for small businesses

Are you using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your small business? If not, apparently you’re not as far behind the curve as the so-called social media gurus would have you believe.

At least not according to the results of a new Citibank/GfK Roper survey. The owners of 500 businesses with 100 or fewer employees were interviewed regarding their use of social media, and the results were anything but a glowing endorsement. In fact, three-quarters of those interviewed said they haven’t found social media helpful for generating new business leads or expanding their businesses, and 86 percent said they haven’t used social networking sites for information or business advice.

That’s a pretty stark contrast to what we’re hearing in the media, where we’re often led to believe if you’re not taking advantage of social networking you’re hopelessly behind the times.

One point of speculation regarding the lack of success with social networking sites is that the small businesses may not have the manpower or the time to take advantage of them. Maybe. But it could also be that that’s not where their customers are.

Like any other form of advertising, social networking sites are tools. You have to use them intelligently in order for them to work. You don’t see a lot of ads for laundry detergent during football games, and you don’t see a lot of beer commercials on Lifetime.

So what has your experience been with social networks? Are you using Twitter, Facebook, etc.? And have they helped you either generate new business or increase business with current customers?

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