Small Businesses Adopting Social Media Technology

A University of Maryland Smith School of Business study found that small
businesses have doubled their adoption of social media technology in the past
year from 12% to 24%. The data is based on a December 2009 telephone survey of
500 small businesses. That data was then compared to a study conducted in
December 2008.

social media websites Facebook and LinkedIn were the most
popular sites used by small businesses, the study found. Dave Peck, social
media strategist for LSF Interactive, explained to O&P Business
how companies have taken advantage of the wealth of analytic data
that social media websites provide. Facebook claims it has 400 million active

“You can monitor the data, you can see who likes you and dislikes
you and you can see where they are located,” Peck explained.

  Five hundred companies weighed in on about social media use through a telephone survey conducted by the University of Maryland Smith School of Business.
  Five hundred companies weighed in
on about social media use through a telephone survey conducted by the
University of Maryland Smith School of Business.
  Source: University of Maryland
Smith School of Business

The study found that 75% of the small businesses who adopted social
media technology have a company page on social networking sites such as
Facebook or LinkedIn. Sixty-nine percent of small businesses are posting status
updates or articles of interest on social networking sites and 54% are
monitoring positive and negative feedback.

While more small businesses are taking advantage of the free exposure
social media websites offer, companies are still weary of allowing their
employees to access the sites at work. According to a study commissioned by
Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing company, 54% of companies ban their
employees from using social media networking sites at work. Companies cited
decreased productivity, which can hurt a business’ bottom line, as the
main reason for the ban. Peck looks at the statistics from a different

“When we say ‘on Facebook’ are we indicating that they
are playing Farmville all day long?” Peck asked. “Then you have a
problem. Or are they talking and initiating communication with customers and

Yet another study, conducted by Challenger, Gray and Christmas, an
outplacement consulting firm, found that 8% of companies surveyed encourage
their employers to use social media websites. These companies believe they are
gaining a recruiting edge with young employees by integrating their companies
to social networking sites.

“There are companies that build a whole business model out of
this,” Peck said.

Companies are keenly aware of social media websites, indicated by the
numerous amounts of studies, surveys and statistics on the subject. Many times
statistics regarding worker productivity are contradictory. Peck believes
companies should try it out and see what happens. Companies have created social
networking policies for their employees indicating and limiting an
employee’s use of the sites.

“You could come up to me and say here are 100 different companies
that have a zero tolerance for social media and I could come back and show you
100 different companies that have a policy in place,” Peck said. “It
is still a grey area.” — by Anthony Calabro

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Social media is a quick, inexpensive and effective means of
communication between organizations and their customers. Applications like
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs can do a wonderful job at building
stronger relationships when actively and properly used. On the front end,
social media is virtually free. But it takes time to write content, respond to
comments and nurture those relationships. If you are not going to update your
information at least a couple times per week, social media simply will not work
for you. Outdated pages do not help anyone, so if you do not have time to
connect with people online, focus on the more traditional marketing

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to encourage all employees to
start tweeting and updating their Facebook profiles with company-sponsored
content, it is good to have a few employees in charge of building and
maintaining their online presence. A little networking can go a long way.

— Jason Pawelsky
Sales and marketing
manager, Tamarack Habilitation Technologies Inc.

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