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Small Business Social Media Adoption Doubles Since 2009

In a recent article from an article by Steven Fisher from Network Solutions shares some great data.

Small Business Social Media Adoption Doubles Since 2009

February 16th, 2010 :: Steven FishercloseAuthor: Steven Fisher Email: steve.fisher@networksolutions.com
Site: http://www.networksolutions.com

It seems that small business are mainly using social media to identify and attract new customers. That is that big take away from the most recent edition of the Small Business Success Index™ (SBSI). This third wave of the report, sponsored by Network Solutions® and the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business reports social media adoption by small businesses has doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent in the last year.

From the press release, “American small businesses are pushing the limits on new ways to improve efficiency in the prolonged downturn, including a steady increase in social media adoption.”

It goes on to quote Connie Steele, Director at Network Solutions, “Tough market conditions mandate small businesses to think and act creatively to sustain themselves”. “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.”

Also from the report, the SBSI found that nearly one out of five small business owners are actively using social media in their business. Small businesses are increasingly investing in social media applications, including blogs, Facebook® and LinkedIn® profiles. 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.  Sixty-one percent of the respondents indicated that they use social media to identify and attract new customers. Listen to a podcast on how small businesses are leveraging social media for customer engagement at http://bit.ly/JayEhret

“In order to meet the growing challenges of a tough market last year, I was forced to consider alternative options to keep my business visible,” says small business owner, Dr. Alan Glazier, CEO and Founder, Shady Grove Eye and Vision Care. “With a very small investment in social media marketing, I was able to generate new business opportunities. Our Google® ranking is consistently number one for many of the phrases people use to search for eye doctors in and around my city, and we have received a “bump” in terms of new visitors to the site.  My blog has been picked up by different news sources and led to media interviews. I am now recognized as a thought leader in social networking within my profession and lastly but most importantly, my marketing budget has been reduced by more than 80 percent.”

Small business owners use social media to attract new customers:

  • 75% surveyed have a company page on a social networking site
  • 61% use social media for identifying and attracting new customers
  • 57% have built a network through a site like LinkedIn
  • 45% expect social media to be profitable in the next twelve months

Small business owners still have concerns with social media:

  • 50% of small business social media users say it takes more time than expected
  • 17% express that social media gives people a chance to criticize their business on the Internet
  • Only 6% feel that social media use has hurt the image of the business more than helped it

“Social media levels the playing field for small businesses by helping them deliver customer service,” says Janet Wagner, director of the Center for Excellence in Service at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. “Time spent on Twitter®, Facebook® and blogs is an investment in making it easier for small businesses to compete.”

In addition to tracking how small business owners use technology, the SBSI Index measures how they are doing in six key areas of business: capital access, marketing and innovation, workforce, customer service, computer technology and compliance.  Other key findings from the December 2009 Small Business Success Index include:

Small businesses experience positive effects from the economic downturn:

  • 72%  have found ways to operate more efficiently (up significantly from 66% in June)
  • 47% have been led to find new products and services that benefit customers
  • 43% have become better teams as hard times force people to work together

Building online presence continues to be key focus for small businesses:

  • Company Web sites are a top technology investment in the next two years, with small businesses either adding new features/functionality to their existing Web sites or building one from scratch.
  • The ability to showcase their products and services online to attract new customers is second in the hierarchy of technology investments small business owners plan to make in the next two years.
  • Social media investments rank third in small business investments to be made in the next two years.

We have some additional ideas and insights to share about what to consider when evaluating what kind of investment you’re considering making in Social Media.

Investing in a Social Networking Strategy

Managing your online identity in the social media until now has been overwhelming and challenging, not only because there are already hundreds of social communities, but also because multiple social networks are launched on virtually a weekly basis.  We all suffer from networking social overload, the information overload of being involved in a social network, not just one network social, but numerous social networking sites.  How many online id, social identities or social user accounts do you have?  Are we being consumed with social definition and is brand management being redefined in our newly social society?  Until now you were limited to the manual, tedious and boring task of physically managing multiple social networking accounts which is very expensive from both a time and money perspective.  In order to evaluate how best to invest in your own social network marketing strategy, you have to determine whether that social marketing plan can 1) save you time, 2) save you money, or 3) make you money. If your social marketing plan doesn’t hit at least one of those three elements, then you’re just wasting resources and you should invest elsewhere.

Social Networking Issues

The social web, what WorldClass has coined as the SocialSphere™, is chock full of social website issues for social issue management, the most personal of which is reputation management.  Personal brand management in the SocialSphere™ is all about protecting your personal reputation.  Similar issues apply to corporate brand management and also extend to product brand management or service brand management.  Social networks can be a powerful tool in protecting, defending and promoting your personal brand or business brand, but as with any technology the tools are not good or bad, rather it’s how you use them that determine the desired outcome

Lack of having a social network strategy can be worse than the proverbial ostrich sticking the head in the ground, and doing nothing is a recipe for potential social networking disaster.  Do you know whether someone Googled you today?  If so, do you know how many times your name was Googled?  Do you know what shows up when someone Googles your name?  Do you know how to change the results if something negative shows up on your Google name search?

When you are doing social analysis of what your social identity looks like to the outside world the use of social networking software inside the social network is a total necessity.  You have already learned, or will come to learn, the logistic challenge of trying to manually protect and defend your personal brand or business brand in the social networking arena.  Just managing the top 5 social networking sites is a daunting task, requiring the investment of time and money which you can easily estimate is thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.  So how do you keep up with all this social networking without losing your sanity?

Social Networking Strategy

In case you are still trying to figure out whether having a personal brand management plan is important or not, read the following article, “10 Reasons You Have To Manage Your Personal Brand” [http://worldclassid.ning.com/page/personal-brand-managemnt]

If your believe your social marketing branding and online reputation, online identity and brand development require involvement in social networking websites, the question then becomes where do you focus your limited time and limited money?  If one site like Facebook makes sense, should you also participate in MySpace or Bebo?  If one social network is good, are ten social websites better and is participation in one hundred or more social networking sites the best?  If participating in every possible social network is the best, how do I physically do that?

The logic of just the time required to create and manage just one social network would make you believe that you don’t want to join every social network because the only way you think it’s possible to do that isn’t scalable.  You just don’t have enough hours in a day to manage more than just a few accounts.  You could hire someone on a full time basis, but even that strategy has limitations that make in unscalable.

List of Social Networking Websites

So if you have limited time and limited money to invest in a social networking strategy, where do you go?  We have compiled an ever growing list of social websites, so please go to the following links to see the entire list with URL links:

The challenge is the idea that you can limit your social marketing strategy in any way.  Even if you decide to limit your strategy to just the Top 10 websites in each of the 9 categories listed above (remember, there are over 350+ in total) that means you’re looking at 90 social memberships!  If you believe that having a strategic social networking plan is a valuable investment, then you should also understand that having a presence in ALL the social websites is important.  Why? Because there are potential customers, potential eyeballs who are in social networks other than the Top 10 who you’re not going to reach if you don’t show up in the other social networks.

Social Networking Software Service (SnsS) – an obvious solution

The old adage of work smarter not harder seems obvious.  The only way to work smarter and have a reasonable solution to managing hundreds of social networks is through an automated software solution.  That is the essence of what WorldClassID is and does.  It is a technology solution which takes the manual and highly complicated process out of the equation and creates a repeatable, scalable solution for dealing with hundreds of social networking sites.

About WorldClass Brand Management and WorldClassID

Brand HyperDistribution: a social network distribution channel. WorldClassID utilizes a variety of peer-to-peer technologies which are even more efficient at reaching a target social network audience than any single method of channel distribution such as print, email, video, social networking, direct mail, network and online broadcasting.

WorldClassID provides a unique methodology to most widely distribute your brand message.  Whether you want more clients, are looking to sell more product or want to reinvent yourself…the WorldClassID Social Networking Software Service is the solution.  WorldClassID is a proven alternative to traditional marketing solutions and the only personal branding solution on the market today that can validate the distribution of content through HyperDistribution.

For more information about becoming a WORLDCLASSID CUSTOMER visit http://WorldClassID.ning.com or to schedule an interview with Mr. Kendell Lang, please contact by email at Kendell.Lang@worldclass.com or by phone at 760.445.3315.

“Are you overwhelmed by Social Networking?  Are you confused by hundreds of social networking sites? Are you hiring a social network coordinator to manage your MySpace, Facebook or Twitter accounts? WorldClassID Service is the answer.  This revolutionary new social networking software service gives you the answer to managing your personal brand in the SocialSphere without being totally frustrated.  WorldClassID is what can help you harness the power of the SocialSphere without driving you crazy. WorldClassID (http://www.WorldClassID.ning.com) is all about providing answers to the question, “do you have a consolidated social content management and social network channel publication system that allows you to WRITE ONCE and then PUBLISH GLOBALLY?” WorldClassID is “Simplifying the SocialSphere™” and making sense out of a chaotic jumble of hundreds of social networking sites.”

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