Almost Half of Small Businesses Find Customers in Social Networks

In social media, is there truth to the proverb, “seek and ye shall find?”

As our experience in new media matures, learning what it is we wish to seek and also accomplish is at the forefront of rapid evolution. Converting questions into objectives is how we grow and succeed. While the opportunities within social media in general are sweeping, one such possibility that’s largely untapped in business social networking is the ability to find customers and prospects as well as learn what inspires them to make decisions and share experiences.

Customers and those who influence their decisions take to social media to learn, discover and share. As a result, social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn as well as hyper-local networks including Yelp and Foursquare are evolving into potent touchpoints for customer acquisition and retention.

Social Networks in Customer Acquisition

Regus, a provider of workplace solutions with over 1,100 business centers in 85 countries, recently published a study that explored the role of social media in customer acquisition. Based on input from senior managers and business owners around the world, the study found that almost one-half of small businesses are successfully connecting with prospects through social networks. On the other side of the spectrum, only 28% of large firms reported finding new customers in social networks. Medium-sized businesses landed appropriately in the middle at 36%.

A Global Perspective

The worldwide survey also ranked countries who found success in customer acquisition in social networks. With 14 countries reporting, an average of 40% reported that social networks were indeed ripe for converting prospects into customers. At the very top of the list, 52% of businesses in India reported success followed by Mexico, Spain, The Netherlands and China with 50%, 50%, 28%, and 22% respectively. The US ranked 7th with 35%.

1. India – 52%
2. Mexico – 50%
2. Spain – 50%
3. Netherlands – 48%
4. China – 44%
5. South Africa – 43%
6. Germany – 41%
6. Australia – 41%
7. US – 35%
8. Canada – 34%
9. France – 33%
9. UK – 33%
10. Japan – 30%
11. Belgium – 27%

combination of search and focused keywords

This is Just the Beginning

Leading metrics firm, comScore, released its Q1 U.S E-Commerce Spending Report and found that Facebook and Twitter visitors spend more money online than average Internet users. And, as social networks usage increases, so does the propensity to spend online.

These numbers will only continue to grow. Everything begins with search, and for those businesses who master the art and science of transforming basic search queries into lead generation in social networks will find an entirely new landscape of opportunities.  The question is, what are you going to do about it? And once you’ve converted prospects into customers, how will social media factor into your retention and advocacy strategies?

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog,, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

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