November 12 ,2014 | by Hari Srinivasan
Social media remains a powerful tool for SMEs, says report
Using social media effectively can be a boon for SMEs if they have the skills to do it.
Small businesses know that to make the most of their limited resources, they have to use every tool at their disposal. As a new infographic from Sage demonstrates, that means more and more are turning to social media as a means of engaging with their target markets, but there are still gaps that need to be filled.
Social media marketing can be a great way for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) to engage with their audiences and position themselves to attract the right attention.
Two-thirds think social media is a worthwhile use of their business’ time. In fact, just over a quarter of SMEs now spend an hour or more every day on social media, which indicates that businesses consider connecting with their audiences in this way to be a valuable use of their time.
However, the infographic demonstrates that there’s far more work to do to enable SMEs to harness social media – as many as 47 per cent are still not using the networks. That could mean they are missing out on a huge number of opportunities and failing to reach a significant section of their target market. Investing a little time in developing social media profiles could be the first step towards entirely new streams of revenue.
This infographic was produced by Sage UK
Nearly seven out of ten firms use social media to increase brand awareness, while half increase the knowledge of users in their networks by providing product and service information. Another 41 per cent market their campaigns via social media.
By far the most commonly used social network is Facebook, cited by 35 per cent of SMEs are the site they use the most for business purposes. However, they were also seeing the benefits of Twitter – 28 per cent said that this was their top social network.
Whether this is related to the type of business, the nature of the audience or other factors is not clear, but it does appear that companies are enjoying the range of social sites available to them.
Interestingly, some 29 per cent were also using LinkedIn, even though as a network aimed at professionals it does have a smaller membership than the Facebooks and Twitters of the world.
For professional services companies and recruitment firms, that may well be an important element of what they do – how they build their reputations and form relationships with other businesses as well as talent from other organisations.
Equally, it could indicate that small businesses and entrepreneurs are using the network to share their experiences and best practice, gain valuable contacts and benefit from a wide range of opportunities on the professional social network. Some 31 per cent of small firms use social media to engage with other businesses and service providers.
On the other hand, just seven per cent of SMEs have their own blog – even though it’s a valuable asset that can improve the firm’s website’s standing in organic search results and provide a valuable asset to link back to from social media posts. That represents a wasted opportunity that could be costing firms heavily.
Hari is the LSBF Blog's News Editor. He manages the editorial content on the blog and writes about current affairs, SME, entrepreneurship, energy, education and emerging market news.
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