In a global report of 15,000 businesses, workspace solutions provider Regus revealed that 44 per cent of SMEs have acquired new customers using networking sites, compared to 28 per cent of large companies.While many businesses have been slow to fully embrace social media, there are now 700,000 small businesses with fan pages on Facebook. Even more surprisingly, over one quarter of SMEs are dedicating marketing budget to social media, as tangible return on investment becomes visible. “This survey indicates that organisations that have not yet ventured into the world of social networking may be missing a sizeable business opportunity,” comments Mark Dixon, the founder and CEO of Regus. “Whilst the most popular function of these networks remains that of keeping in touch with contacts, small businesses are also successfully acquiring new customers, supporting their retention efforts and interacting with customer groups. Social networking has finally become an effective business tool, and SMEs are leading the way in this.” Unsurprisingly, companies in the media and marketing sector are best at using social media for lead generation, the research showed. As with all statistics, we have to remain slightly cynical, however. While many large consumer businesses who are present on social networking sites may not have reported direct sales, the benefits they’ve accrued in brand recognition and PR are probably quite big. Over eight million people “like” Coca-Cola on Facebook, for example. No small fry!
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