There are around 27 million small businesses in the USA. One frequently hears that they are less likely to be involved in online business activities than their large counterparts. I have found this impression to be hard to verify.
Now there is some evidence. Warrilow & Co. has reported that 28% of small businesses had at least registered with one social networking site. The most interesting statistic reported was that fast-growth companies, defined as having 20% or greater increase annual revenues, are more likely to be participants in social networking. Warrilow & Co. seem to be holding the details of the study close to their chest so there are a lot of unanswered questions.
There is, however, some food for thought.
At minimum, the social media active small businesses seem to be creating profiles in sites like Linkedin.com and Facebook.com. Others are creating profiles in business directories.
Now why might this contribute to greater growth? Well, more and more customers are vetting people, companies and products online before they do business with them. Profiles on social networking sites and listings in directories are searchable and highly indexed by search engines. This give the company online visibility and it is free.
This visibility might be a good start. However, in our work with both customers and clients, online credibility is becoming essential.
Customers want to know about the kind of experience they can expect when they deal with a company. They want to know about the buying process but they are especially interested in the experience they can expect when they use or consume the company’s products or services. And, they want to know whether the company and its employees will help them gain the maximum experiential value with the least amount of frustration.
Companies that do not have a visible and credible social media presence lose out. A traditional website is not enough.