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More And More And More Small Businesses Jumping Online

small business jumping online with social media, ecommerce

78% of small business owners gained at least a quarter of their new customers through online or social media channels. On the flip side, 58% of respondents indicated they struggled to find value using Facebook to promote their business or don’t have a page at all. That’s according to new data released by Manta, the largest online community dedicated entirely to small business.

As part of the survey, Manta polled 614 small businesses across the nation to gather perspectives about their use of online and social channels. The results are not surprising—more and more owners are putting an increased emphasis on establishing and promoting themselves online to network and increase their customer base.

Which social media channels drive the most business?

According to the data, websites are still tops accounting for 24% of traffic. Facebook came in second at 19% followed by LinkedIn (12%), Google+ (10%), Twitter (5%), Pinterest (1%) and Groupon (less than 1%).

From everything I’ve been hearing and seeing with Google+ and how hard it is to drive customer engagement, I have to say I was more than a little surprised that it accounted for 10% of business and that it outperformed Twitter among respondents. Along those same lines, I also thought it was very interesting that Pinterest and Groupon both came in around 1% (or less)—at one point in time they were both considered two of the absolutely hottest platforms for small businesses on the planet.

Measuring social media ROI

The $24 question. The white elephant in the room. Whatever you want to call it, with 35% of respondents indicating they have a Facebook page for their business but don’t see the value, it’s clear there’s still a lot of work to be done around ROI. Although there are a growing number of tools out there to help small businesses measure the effectiveness of their efforts, it’s still an area that’s continuing to evolve. 

Here’s the thing--just because it’s free and relatively easy to create a social media profile doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You need to be able to clearly articulate your goals before you start building an online presence for your small business and then continue to reevaluate those goals on a regular basis to make sure they’re still adding value.

Which online/social media channels are you using to attract new customers?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.


[Image: Flickr user Christian Guthier]

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