Small Business Stuck in Neutral on Social Media

Study Finds Small Business Owners Use Social Media Personally, but Don’t Know How to Start Using It to Build Their Companies. The Solution is Listening for Simple Business Insights Online

Study finds most small businesses will not increase their investment in social media in 2012. See infographic for more details. (Graphic: Business Wire)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla.--()--While they use social media personally and believe it affects their businesses, the majority of small business owners don’t know how to use the new networks to build their companies. What’s more, most don’t plan on investing online until they understand the practices and payoffs. That’s the headline finding in a social media study of small businesses just released by Social Strategy1, which mines social media for business intelligence, and OfficeArrow an online information network of 350,000 small and mid-sized businesses.

Nearly three quarters (73%) of small business owners said they access social networks on smartphones or other mobile devices, yet 67% are holding back investing in social media because they don’t know where to begin. What’s holding them back is a sense of overload, in particular fear of the resources required to meet the expectations of social media users. Specifically, 51% fear sharing sensitive information; 50% say there’s too much social media to manage; and 44% fear “information overload.” The study engaged 343 small business executives, predominantly from companies with fewer than 10 employees, via email and website surveys. All are members of the OfficeArrow network.

“Small businesses need a playbook to proceed in social media,” said Steve Ennen, President and Chief Intelligence Officer for Social Strategy1. “Entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of the American economy. Preparing them to capitalize on the business opportunities social media can create should be a top priority.”

The solution, says Ennen, is to treat social media as a platform for listening, not talking. Among the 41% of small businesses taking any social media action, the focus is solidly on promoting to increase brand awareness. However, 60% say they do want to use social media as an information source; they just don’t know how. Ennen says small businesses need to take three initial steps:

1. Find your customers online. There’s a world beyond Facebook and Twitter online, where people bare their feelings instantaneously. Identify the places where customers are commenting, linking and sharing content.

2. Set up to listen. Establish feeds to extract relevant insights continually. Everything tells you something about what really matters to the people a business intends to serve.

3. Emphasize customer service. It’s possible do more for less through online customer service. Catalog what people like, trust, dislike, and distrust, about your company, competitors and category. Pinpoint the key dissatisfactions and consider ways to automate tasks for customers. Then, using that data, communicate with them in meaningful ways.

“The most important resource is a specialist in monitoring social media,” said Ennen. “Small businesses need to focus resources on customer action, and monitoring professionals combine the technology and analysis to show what actions are profitable.”

About Social Strategy1

Social Strategy1 is a new kind of business-intelligence Company. The Company translates real-time social media activity into a framework for improving the fundamental areas of business (Operations, Human Resources, Customer Service, Distribution, Finance, Legal). Social Strategy1 was developed in collaboration with The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where students and academics used the platform to focus on the more meaningful metrics and proofs of performance in a total media strategy. For more information, visit or follow “@sstrategy1” on Twitter.

About OfficeArrow

OfficeArrow is an online community of more than 350,000 small business owners, entrepreneurs, and office professionals that organizes content and easy-to-use tools to help small businesses capitalize on social media and succeed in the changing social media-driven world. For more information, visit and follow “@OfficeArrow” on Twitter.

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Social Strategy1
Ilona Olayan, 904-416-0717

Release Summary

Study finds small business will not increase social media investment in 2012, even though they know its impact is widening. Reason: they are overwhelmed by the complexity and uncertain where to begin.


Social Strategy1
Ilona Olayan, 904-416-0717