Archive for May, 2010

Business leaders are embracing social media and that’s a good thing.

May 31, 2010

One in five small businesses indicated they are utilizing some form of social media to attract or up-sell clients or customers.
In addition, 13% of respondents said they were actively considering such programs.
Among the benefits of the social media efforts reported by respondents were:
Increased sales from existing customers
Feedback on programs and efforts offered by the company
Uptick in new clients, consumers
Faster identification of problems or opportunities in new product introduction
Heighten awareness of firm in the marketplace
But the positives, according to respondents, also came with some drawbacks. They include:
Commitment of resources usually heavier than expected
Reluctance on the part of staff to utilize information gleaned from the efforts
Utilization by unauthorized or malicious users
Negative comments
The survey, conducted by a company I chair, Information Strategies, Inc., covered 1019 firms ranging from 3 to 100 employees during April and May 2010.
Fully 84% of respondents said they were happy with efforts to date.
What I saw in our survey is a surge in utilization of social media in just one year from our last polling in early 2009.
But it is not an easy tactic to embrace. While many companies said they were pleased with the results, they indicated that a learning curve was necessary but that once in place and operating, it was a very positive experience.
Many respondents reported usage and feedback built gradually over the first two months but grew rapidly thereafter.
As leading media guru and strategist Bob Heyman says, “Patience with social media is a key ingredient to success.”
“We tested the waters with our customers,” said one Midwestern sporting goods store owner. “Once we worked out the kinks, we spread the program and started to see a pick-up in orders from new customers outside of our immediate sales area.”
Finding the right tools was an important consideration for many companies, with a majority (56%) saying they spent 90 days or more before making a final decision and implementation took about the same period.
Positive employee satisfaction with the feedback was reported by 76% of respondents but the demands of providing information and material sometimes resulted in some dislocation, according to respondents.
A slight majority (52%) of respondents said they used an internal person to monitor and manage the social media process while 36% said it was done totally as an external process, The remainder said it was a combination of internal and external resources,
Amongst companies with fewer than 25 employees, management was almost totally utilizing external resources.
What this means to businesses utilizing social media to market and sell to small businesses is that your audience has become more savvy through their own online experiences and a more educated buyer.

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