There has never been a better time for SMEs to grab the web by its digital horns and see how it could benefit their business. According to research* by specialist business insurer Hiscox entrepreneurs that have incorporated social media into their business models claim they use it to not only to increase brand awareness (27%) and boost sales (15%) but to also improve their customer service (11%).
When asked what types of social networks SMEs are using the most Facebook was the most popular at 18%. The social network Facebook also ranked higher than more than overtly business-orientated sites like LinkedIn (13%) and company-own blogs (13%).
Currently only a small number of the businesses involved in the research (12%) said they are taking advantage of the social media benefits and using web tools all the time, whereas a greater proportion (25%) reported they look at social media when they had the time.
There is significant opportunity in the digital space for entrepreneurs to drive business with only a small minority (7%) using social media to achieve a high level of search engine optimisation and natural search results or to generate sales (6% of small businesses and 21% of medium businesses).
Research** by the Booz & Company and Buddy Media found that digital technology is an increasingly important consideration in all business budgets. However, over the coming three years, it’s the budget allocated to social media that is expected to make the most significant increase.
Further research*** by The Neilsen Company found that with four in five active internet users visit social networks and blogs and just over half of all adults (53%) who engage in social networks being active followers of a brand. This demonstrates the potential rewards and quick wins of investing in social media, particularly in terms of brand exposure, could be great.
Businesses are starting to become alert to the potential for social media to build their brand and increase sales. The ever changing landscape of social media means that for SMEs to understand how they can benefit from these platforms they need to get involved. The time is ripe and the tools are there for more businesses to capitalise on social media to increase brand awareness and growth.
Hiscox insures more than 100,000 small businesses and has won Best Small Business Insurance [http://www.hiscox.co.uk/business-insurance ] Provider in the Start Your Business Awards for the last two years in a row
* Hiscox commissioned research with Opinium Research among 305 owners. Partners and senior decision makers from UK SMEs with 1 to 249 employees between May 18 and June 1, 2011
**Booz and Company/Buddy Media Campaigns to Capabilities Social Media & Marketing 2011 Survey results
***The Nielson Company
- Business insurance news: SMEs embracing social media (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Why You Need Social Media Followers Who Won’t Ever Buy (hubspot.com)