Social media pays off for small, midsize businesses, study says

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that use social media are 56 percent more likely to increase their revenue, according to a recent report by research analysts at several organizations.

Around 28 percent of SMEs that were using social media promotions reported a revenue increase, compared to 18 percent of all businesses, according to the MYOB Business Monitor, released by the market research firm MYOB.

A recent report by Deloitte Access Economies, Connected Small Businesses, also recently found small businesses that actively use digital technologies such as social media and online marketing could see an average annual revenue increase of $350,000 a year. (See also "9 social media mistakes your business must avoid.")

Research found 20 percent of SMEs use social media for business purposes, with Gen Y the most prolific users (22 percent), followed by Gen X (22 percent), Baby Boomers (18 percent) and 65-plus (9 percent).

"One in five business owners now wear an additional hat—social media manager. Those who embrace that role are reaping rewards beyond building closer relationships with customers, suppliers, partners and others. The financial benefits are clear," Tim Reed, CEO at MYOB, said in a statement. "Many of these social tools, like Facebook or a blog, don't need an investment of money to raise a business' profile, communicate with its target audiences and generate leads; although they do require time."

Reed said only one fifth of businesses use social media platforms, despite nearly half of SME owners using one or more smartphones for business.

He said the researched suggested this was because businesses did not have the confidence to deploy social media.

"More than half our respondents said they would vote for the political party that proposed providing free government-funded training to all small businesses on how to use the Internet to enhance and grow their business," Reed said.

Other favorite tech tools

Other findings from the report reveal 10 percent of SMEs use Skype or VoIP to make business calls, 9 percent used a company blog to communicate news and 16 percent use Facebook, YouTube or Google+ to connect with customers.

It also found just 32 percent of businesses have a website and 21 percent of SMEs have staff who telecommute.

The MYOB Business Monitor report surveyed 1005 small and medium enterprises in January and February 2013.

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