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Social Networking Usage Doubles

(3/2/2010)

A new University of Maryland survey shows social media usage among small businesses increased to 24% in 2009, up from 12% in 2008. Further, three out of four respondents reported use of a company social networking Web page, tied to a site like Facebook or LinkedIn. An additional 40% of respondents say they have created a blog, where they post entries related to their areas of expertise. About 26% of those surveyed send Tweets about their business field, while 16% use Twitter as a customer service tool. “Social media levels the playing field for small businesses by helping them deliver customer service,” said Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service. “Time spent on Twitter, Facebook and blogs is an investment in making it easier for small businesses to compete.”

Besides demonstrating usage, the survey also compared expectations to results, showing social networking wasn’t quite as effective in attracting new customers as had been hoped. Roughly 73% of respondents expected social networking to help customer acquisition, while only 61% of surveyed businesses could identify an uptick. However, 46% of respondents believe social media helped their businesses stay engaged with customers, falling in line with expectations.

Maybe most notably of all, 22% of those surveyed feel social networking is already helping them turn a profit, with 46% believing the marketing tool will help them make money within the next year. This new optimism among business executives is an attitude reversal from prior studies, including one conducted by Citibank last August. In that study, 75% of respondents did not find social networking to be helpful for generating leads or expanding their businesses.



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