A recent study found that 52% of Britain’s small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) use social media. However, 27% of those polled in the Forum of Private Business study expressed doubts about the value of the popular networking sites—21% described them as “not useful” and 6% went even further, labelling them “useless.”
An article summarising the survey’s findings explained that it was “surprising” that so many people described social media as “not useful.” I, for one, don’t find that finding particularly bewildering.
I suspect that another reason some SMEs are hesitant to use social media is that they simply don’t understand what all the fuss is about. I for one, had a similar reaction when I first stumbled across Twitter a couple of years ago (I’ve come around now though. If you are interested, you can follow me at twitter.com/brian_buntz).
Returning to the the Forum of Private Business study: only 7% of respondents who use social media described it as “very useful” for their businesses; 18% were more reserved, agreeing that it was “useful.”
Forum Spokesman Phil McCabe explains: “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.”
Social media does have a lot going for it. For one thing, it’s free. And extremely easy to use. But how should a company use social media to best connect with its customers or build up a brand identity? That’s a question with no clear, single answer.
“Small businesses are a diverse bunch and what works for one company may well not be suitable for another,” McCabe says. “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.”Brian Buntz