Survey Says: Is Social Media a Valuable Tool or Total Waste of Time?
More business owners are using Facebook and Twitter to connect with customers -- but plenty remain skeptical about how effective social media marketing really is.
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Your mother might be on Facebook, but some small business owners still aren't buying the effectiveness of social media. Hiring is finally on the rise, just not where you might expect it. And all those new business tech tools -- are they heaven-sent, or the devil's playground? Here's a closer look at some of the latest small-business surveys.
While thousands of Americans convert to social media every day, small businesses are still leery of its marketing value, says a survey from RatePoint, which provides customer reviews, testimonials and online reputation management services. Here's what the business owners say:
- "My customers want to hear from me on social networks" -- 25 percent agreed, 36 percent disagreed and 20 percent were undecided.
- "My customers spend time on social networking sites" -- 36 percent agreed, 20 percent disagreed and 27 percent were undecided.
- "Social media is a quick way to connect with prospective customers" -- 35 percent agreed, 28 percent disagreed and 22 percent were undecided.
We recently reported similar statistics from American Express OPEN as representing growth among entrepreneurs' use of social media, compared to the 10 percent who used it a year ago. To me, both sets of figures show surprisingly low levels of adoption among small-business owners given how big social media has become in the past year. Taking part in social media has paid off for my company (in several good-sized contracts) -- and I know many entrepreneurs whose businesses have gotten huge boosts from their participation. If you're not willing to take the social media plunge, at least dip your toes in the water.
While unemployment remained steady (and high) in September, the hiring of independent contractors is growing. So says the latest employment data from oDesk, an online platform enabling contractors and small businesses to find each other.
From September 2009 to September 2010, the number of jobs posted on oDesk grew by a whopping 130 percent, contractors' earnings grew by 92 percent and hours worked grew by 116 percent.
This is good news for the contractors (often freelancers) and entrepreneurs. Hiring independent contractors is a great way to staff up for projects and seasonal needs. My company, GrowBiz Media, uses them all the time. Thinking about hiring a contractor? There are plenty available -- the number of contractors on oDesk increased by 115 percent.
Hold on, I'm Playing Farmville
Are your employees' tech tools making them more productive -- or less? It could be a toss-up. In a new survey by Workplace Options, more than half (53 percent) of employees say distractions in the workplace affect their productivity. "Other employees" are their top distraction (24 percent), but technology comes in close behind at 23 percent.
While 58 percent of employees report having a handheld device increases their productivity, 35 percent say it increases distractions. Surprisingly (to me, anyway), 55 percent of employees say having access to social media at the office is either a "somewhat" or "significant" distraction.
Speaking as someone with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and three separate handheld devices, I can attest to their power as both productivity tools and major time-sucks.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and visit SmallBizDaily.com to sign up for her free TrendCast reports.