Small businesses go social to stay engaged with customers

A few days ago I bookmarked and tweeted a press release via Delicious, that said social media adoption by U.S. small businesses doubled since 2009.

The findings come from the so-called Small Business Success Index, that’s sponsored by Network Solutions and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business (quite a mouthful).

The key finding of the SBSI is that social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12% to 24% in the last year.

In the press release, Connie Steele, who is a director at Network Solutions (as you probably know a provider of online solutions for small businesses) said that “Social media can be the best friend for small business owners who constantly seek new ways to attract new customers and retain the ones they have at a relatively low cost.” 

That’s the introduction, let’s take a closer look now.

First some data, as the SBSI reported them, I’ll keep it short (and simply quote).

1) Nearly one out of five small business owners are actively using social media in their business.
2) 61% of the respondents indicated that they use social media to identify and attract new customers.
3) 75% of the surveyed small business owners have a company page on a social networking site
4) 61% use social media for identifying and attracting new customers
5) 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
6) 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months

According to the SBSI “ small businesses are increasingly investing in social media applications, including blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles”.

Social media are great for smart small businesses

Great, more data for the number crunchers among us. More importantly, however, is why small businesses use social media and if it results in value for both themselves and their (potential) customers.

Before elaborating on this a small personal thought: I think social media are great for smart small businesses. If they are creative and approach social media from the customer viewpoint. An amazing number of small businesses has done great things with social media.

If you’re a member of, read Shel Israel’s Twitterville or read some posts and interviews on this blog (and much more), you’ll see that it’s certainly not the Dell’s of this world alone that achieved amazing results using social media (and of course many small businesses do amazing things without social media too, social media marketing is not some kind of holy grail, it’s marketing).

Now the interesting part from the Small Business Success Index.

What do small businesses expect from social media? The answer: “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”. 

Customer engagement, I like that.

More data here.

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