Small businesses are initially finding no great boon in social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, according to a report released Friday by Citigroup Inc.
"Our survey suggests that small-business owners are still feeling their way into social media, particularly when it comes to using these tools to grow their businesses," said Maria Veltre, the executive vice president of the New York banking company's small-business segment. "While social media can provide additional channels to network and help grow a business, many small businesses may not have the manpower or the time required take advantage of them."
Among the findings in the survey of 500 small-business executives, which GFK Roper did for Citi Small Business by telephone in August:
- 76% said they had not found social networking sites helpful in generating business leads or for expanding their business during the past year.
- 86% said they have not used social networking sites to get business advice or information.
- 61% relied on general search engine sites such as Google and Yahoo to find information, trumping small-business-focused sites or WSJ.com.
- 42% increased their use of their company's own Web site in the past year to generate business leads and sales. (Of the larger small businesses, with 20 to 99 employees, 57% made greater use of their Web sites.)
- 28% are using e-mail marketing, and 25% are using online advertising to generate business leads and sales.