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80% of small businesses ‘turning to social media’ for leads

Sunday February 23 2014

Of the 81% of small- and medium-size businesses that use social media, 94% use it for marketing purposes, according to a new study.

The report, from LinkedIn indicates that among the fastest-growing of those companies, 91% said that a social media presence helped increase brand awareness and 82% said the platforms drew leads.

Not surprisingly, social media was found to be a key driver of growth for SMB firms — not only through marketing strategies but through listening strategies to help discern the interests of both customers and prospects.

"We know that for SMBs the greatest challenge is attracting and retaining customers," says Lana Khavinson, a senior product manager at LinkedIn who oversees the company's SMB initiatives. "Here is a really clear indicator of the value that social media is providing to companies that are rapidly growing."
The data is important to LinkedIn, which has "millions" of members who are small business entrepreneurs, says Khavinson. LinkedIn also announced a new website dedicated to helping SMBs better utilize LinkedIn for growth and marketing purposes.

Twitter expanded its self-serve advertising platform overseas last quarter to try and entice SMBs in Canada, the UK and Ireland. The expansion was further evidence that the company sees value in reaching smaller advertisers.

LinkedIn partnered with market research firm TNS for its study, which gathered information from 998 SMBs in the United States and Canada. Not all those surveyed were LinkedIn users, according to a company spokesperson. The report defines a "small business" as having revenue between $1 million and $9.9 million; a "medium business" has revenues between $10 million and $49.9 million.