Small businesses are set to increase the time and effort they spend on social media marketing, but research on its effectiveness has been mixed. In a survey from Citibank, for example, the majority of small-business executives found social networks no good for expanding their business.
But according to the “Small Business Marketing Forecast 2010” from Ad-ology, lead generation is the biggest benefit of social networking for US small businesses, cited by one-half of respondents. Social networks were also considered a good way to keep up with the industry and monitor online chatter about the business.
Small businesses rated Facebook the most beneficial social networking site, with one-third of respondents reporting it was at least somewhat helpful. It was also the social network most likely to be used. Use of LinkedIn was less common, but the business-oriented site was claimed as beneficial by 21% of small businesses, compared with 19% that said the same of Twitter.
While awareness of social media is high among small businesses, education is still needed. Nearly one-half of respondents wished they knew more about the channel, and some of the biggest obstacles to doing more with social networking included a lack of knowledge.
The No 1. roadblock, however, was the perception that “our customers do not use social networks,” claimed by 31% of small businesses. Nearly as many complained that they did not have the time or staff available to do a good job with social network marketing.
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