Social Media Boosts Small Business Marketing Efforts

Social Media Boosts Small Business Marketing Efforts

By Mike Sachoff – Mon, 09/13/2010 – 5:11pm.

Social media increasing investments in websites

Only 37 percent of small businesses say they are highly successful at coming up with new ideas to grow their business compared to 47 percent last year, according to a new report from Network Solutions.

“Creative thinking and the determination to push the limits on innovation are the hallmark characteristics of entrepreneurs,” says Tim Kelly, CEO, Network Solutions, an advocate of small business success.

“Having a strong presence on the Web gives business owners a great launch pad to showcase their innovative spirit and build brand awareness for the products and services they offer.”

Small business owners who are highly successful at marketing and innovation differ from the majority:

*39% consider Internet technology to be important to their business

*26% use online advertising, more than other businesses (18%)

*72% expect to make a profit from using social media

“The ongoing recession has certainly pushed our limits on marketing and innovative thinking. It’s difficult to stay inspired and optimistic when the economy remains stagnant,” says Heidi Kallett, owner of The Dandelion Patch, a stationary and gift retail business.

“Technology is a huge ally for small businesses. I stay ahead of the curve by leveraging the Internet and social media to stay connected with my customer base and also maintain an online presence for Dandelion Patch. The internet has no doubt helped me to form personal relationships with my customers.”

More than two-thirds (67%) of small businesses have or are likely to have a website in two years. Instead of replacing website investments, social media is increasing them. Among small businesses that use social media, 30 percent are likely to increase their investment in their website because of social media, and another 60 percent do not plan to change their website investment in the next year.

While six months ago small businesses were focused on the goal of attracting leads with social media (71% vs. 73% in Dec 2009), they now look to social media simply to build awareness of their organizations (77% vs. 56% Dec 2009). They are also more likely to use social media to stay in touch with their current customers (62%) than six months ago (46%).

The number of companies conducting business globally has dropped from 19% to 14% since December 2009, but companies buying supplies from outside the country has seen an increase from 11% to 18% since December 2009. Also there is a positive correlation between small businesses using social media and the income they generate from multiple countries.

“Small business owners who hit roadblocks on marketing and innovation should turn to social media,” said Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the Smith School, at the University of Maryland.“

“Tools such as Twitter and Facebook have made it faster, cheaper, and easier for even the smallest business to communicate with its customers and get ideas for new products and services.  Technology-savvy small business owners who leverage the Internet will be in a strong position to compete going forward.” 

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