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WSJ Survey: Small Business Owners See Pros of Social Media for Growth

Wall Street Journal

A recent survey from the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International shows that small businesses find value in social media, but are digging in to see which channels are worth the most investment. The survey, which asked 835 business owners how they view each social network as it pertains to their company’s growth, found that six out of 10 owners see value in the medium.

Likely because it’s focused on business networking, LinkedIn was said to be the most valuable social media channel among those surveyed: 41% of business owners singled it out as the top growth driver. Twitter came in with the lowest rating among those surveyed, with only 3% seeing it as the most valuable.

Some business owners attributed the finding to lower engagement on Twitter as opposed to Facebook or LinkedIn. With Twitter’s post restriction of 140 characters, small business owners said it can be difficult to convey messages while including links to drive website clicks and direct buys. Twitter’s interface for comments and replies is also less smooth than on other social networks, making it less likely for a user to answer a question or give feedback.

However, small business owners’ perceived usefulness of each social network does not necessarily track with how businesses are actually using them. For example, Twitter usage far exceeds its perceived potential, according to the WSJ survey.

Use vs. Usefulness

Due to the overall popularity of social media, small businesses may feel the need to be present on all the major channels. My advice is to always weigh the usefulness of each marketing medium based on the needs and customer makeup of the specific business. Each channel may not yield results for all businesses, so owners must continually reevaluate and shift focus to those that do.

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