Social Media Offers Financial Benefits for Small Businesses

According to the LinkedIn survey, nearly half of small businesses use social media to learn, either from their own peers, experts, or partners.

Outside of the more traditional measures of using social media, small and midsize businesses (SMBs) have also turned to social media platforms to gather information to make better business decisions, according to a survey by LinkedIn.

The results found nearly half (49 percent) of small businesses surveyed use social media to learn, either from their own peers, experts or partners.

The study indicated when it comes to making decisions on financial products, social media doesn’t lose its influence--an impressive 37 percent of SMBs, who use social media in both the discovery and consideration phase, were driven to purchase a financial product.

More than two-thirds (68 percent) said they use social media for finance-related reasons. Following a brand page is the top social media touch point when choosing a financial institution, and SMBs are 21 percent more open to receive financial information on LinkedIn than on Facebook and Twitter.

After hearing or reading about a financial product on social media, SMB’s top actions are conducting additional research (24 percent) and actively learning about products, account types and companies (22 percent).

"SMBs will continue to be a driving force of the economy for years to come. If financial institutions want to play an active role in this growth story, they need to find new and effective ways of connecting with the financial decision makers at SMBs," the report said. "Social media provides a significant opportunity to provide useful content and information that differentiates."

Moreover, as SMBs look for information on products, companies and industry, there is a substantial gap (16-29 percent) between the information they expect and what they actually receive, thereby presenting an opportunity for financial institutions to provide the very content they seek, the survey indicated.

Social media is also helping to address SMB’s No. 1 challenge of attracting new customers, with 61 percent of SMBs surveyed finding social media useful in gaining new customers.

In addition, 81 percent of SMBs currently use social media to drive business growth, and 91 percent are planning to use it in the future. While 94 percent of SMB social media users leverage it for marketing, nearly half also use it for learning and deriving business insights.

With four in five SMBs currently using it, social media use spans more than 1 million SMBs in North America, impacting more than $4.5 trillion in revenue. Another 9 percent of SMBs intend to use social media in the near future, further expanding the share of revenue social media can impact.

A little under three-quarters (72 percent) of social media learners stated that it was effective, which they use not only to gain insights and information, but also to build credibility and source potential business partners and suppliers.