Will You Be One of the Few Small Businesses to Master Social Media?

In the fall of 2009, Citibank commissioned a Small Business Survey with the topic of social media. The result was a surprising answer to the question, “do you find social media helpful in generating leads or expanding your business?” A whopping 76% of the 500 small business owners with less than 100 employees said that social media was not at all helpful in promoting their business or gaining more customers.

More survey results showed that small business owners don’t seem to focus on social media at all. 86% said they do not use social media sites for information or business advice.

But what if they’re not doing it right?

Compare these results to the results of the Small Business Success Index conducted by Grow Smart Business. This poll showed that although 75% of small businesses had a web page on a social networking site like Facebook or Twitter, only about one in five actively used social media in their business promotion.

Only 20%? It’s no wonder that so many small business owners find Twitter or Facebook not at all helpful. The ones who do find it helpful are the ones actively building a network of followers and potential customers. Although the success results from 2009 are low, 45% of small business owners do expect social media to be profitable in the next 12 months.

So who are the businesses that make social media work? It’s small firms like The Grilled Cheese Truck in Los Angeles, for instance. You wouldn’t think that a simple grilled cheese is anything to follow on Twitter, but the buzz about the LA sandwiches has exploded and demand is extreme. But what’s the problem? The truck stops at a different location every day. Only the followers on Twitter know where the truck will be. The Grilled Cheese Truck as reached “legendary” status in all of LA, and residents from all parts of the city clamor to get to the truck when it arrives.

That is the bread social media promotions were made of, no pun intended. If you have a social media page for your business, the key is to not let it sit stagnant, hoping customers will find you. You must be creative and use social media as a way to generate buzz and acquire a following. Will your small business be profitable through social media in 2010?


  1. I have found that depending on the type of clientele I am looking to connect with will depend upon how much time and energy I spend on social media venues. Social media also is FREE, except of course for the cost of my time. I enjoy seeing who is following me and starting a discussion with them. I am able to see the spike in my blog viewings depending on the information that I put up on twitter. So I can immediately change my course of action.

  2. I’m over 40, and totally lost to this generation of twittering and Facebooking. I’ve hired someone who is 30, and tech-savvy, to help me. It takes her 30 seconds to do what would have taken me 4 hours! I’m still not sure this isn’t just a fad….person-to-person sales are still King in my book. But I’ll relent to the peer-pressure and maintain a Facebook and Twitter account 🙂

    • Kelly, thanks for your thoughts. I’m over 40, too. I didn’t jump on the Twitter/Facebook bandwagon early. I did eventually get on it and I am not nearly as active as some. I just can’t find the time to post as frequently as others do. At this point, I don’t think it’s a fad. I’m seeing lots of people use it for business purposes as well as for keeping in touch with friends.

      You are right: there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. You can see the landscape changing when you go to a networking event and watch half the people whip out their mobile phones to check email instead of talking 🙂

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