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SMEs question value of social media, says FPB

Published: 15 October 2010
More than half of Britain's small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) now use social media, according to a new survey from the Forum of Private Business (FPB).
SMEs question value of social media, says FPB
In its latest Referendum ballot of 5,800 business owners, the FPB found 52% of its members use websites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but more than half of those doubted their value.

21% described them as 'not useful', with 6% labelling them 'useless'. Only 7% of respondents described social media as 'very useful' for their businesses.

According to the survey, 19% of SMEs across the UK still do not have a website, with almost a fifth of small firms only communicating with customers and suppliers through traditional means such as via telephone, face-to-face or through the post.

Of the Forum members who do have websites, 76% said they used them to list contact details, 74% used their sites to provide product information and 35% found their websites useful for generating sales leads.

When asked what the drawbacks are to increased use of technology, 71% listed time spent in dealing with unwanted emails, 61% listed electronic fraud and 51% named the costs involved in keeping up to date with software and hardware.

Commenting on the findings, Forum spokesman Phil McCabe said: "It's clear that, while a lot of our members are certainly trying out social media for their businesses, many remain unconvinced of its benefits.

"We believe that social media does hold a great deal of potential for many SMEs. Its conversational, real-time nature makes it ideal for entrepreneurs and small, dynamic firms which often have much more relaxed attitudes towards public relations than big corporations. Also, sites like Twitter can provide valuable and cost-free feedback on customer and client satisfaction.

"However, small businesses are a diverse bunch and what works for one company may well not be suitable for another, so it's likely that our figures reflect the business owners whose firms aren't suited to social media because of the sector or market they're in."

Comments

Published prior to March 2014
By Andy Vaughan - Credence
This is an interesting article and shows what opportunities are available to us all! Like any form of marketing, we have to be creative in the use of social media, be consistent with the message we want to give and remember they are first and foremost 'social' networks! They can enhance and help build businesses but how many of us have a social media strategy as part of our overall marketing mix? Perhaps it is the 7% who describe the medium as being 'very useful' for their business?

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