There has been lots of talk of social networking penetrating the enterprise, but what about the little guys?
According to research from AMI-Partners and analyst Nikki Lambda, the uptake of social networking by small businesses is set to double over the next year. In fact, research shows that 600,000 small businesses, (companies up to 99 employees) plan to deeply integrate social networking services in the next 12 months. That number is up from 300,000, which is approximately five percent of the total number of small businesses (SBs) in the United States. Lambda’s research on social networking is part of a larger AMI-Partners report entitled “U.S. Small Business Overview and Comprehensive Market Opportunity Assessment.”
Lambda writes, “SBs form an emerging audience for social networking services. While the proliferation of these services among the general public has been extraordinary, SBs remain a largely untapped opportunity – what could amount to a small boon for those willing to seek them out during these troubled times.”
Social networking opportunities for small businesses come in several forms. For one, social networking services such as LinkedIn are beginning to cater to small businesses and entrepreneurs by creating network branches for small organizations. The designated social networks allow small business owners and employees to communicate, share knowledge, and collaborate on projects. A second opportunity for small business involvement in social networking rests in advertising. In fact, Lambda’s research states that over the next 12 months, about 500,000 SBs will use social networking as a marketing resource and brand differentiator.
Interestingly, IDC Research recently issued a survey indicating that social networking users are not as apt to respond to marketing on social networks as they are on other Web sites. Lambda says, however, social network advertising still could be an area of opportunity for small businesses. “Although social networking as a resource for advertising and promotional activity is growing slower than people expect, it’s still experiencing growth and will be an area to keep track of as social networking platforms evolve, and more specialized services emerge for SB owners,” she says.
Given the state of the economy, Lambda writes that social networking is a relatively low cost solution that could help in fostering, “steady communication with existing partners, and clients as well as incubating new relationships” — a function both desired by consumers networking with friends and with employees in the workplace. The aforementioned IDC social networking survey, in fact, indicates that the majority of social networking users list communication as their number one reason for usage of such sites.
Small Businesses Want to Get Social, Too
by Jim Berkowitz on December 18, 2008
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