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Frank Reed at Marketing Pilgrim cites a survey by Citibank / GfK Roper in which 76% of the business owners surveyed (500 of them) said that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have not helped their businesses to grow in the last year.

Well, I wonder why not? Could it have anything to do with the economy?

You might think so, but according to the same survey, 42% of the business owners surveyed said they have made greater use of their own websites and search engines to increase leads and sales. That’s not surprising. Search engine optimization has always had a better response rate than social media. But that doesn’t mean social media doesn’t have value.

Frank Reed nails it on the head when he responds:

Small town folks may be using social media but they aren’t telling all of their cool friends in some urban center how they just crossed the street and are now successfully maneuvering down another block to do that again. They live where people are trying to get on with life in a difficult economic environment. As a result they are not interested in the latest and greatest social media trends. They are interested in getting what they need at the right price from someone they trust.

For many small business owners, social media engagement takes a lot of time. But it doesn’t have to. Of course, putting time and money into building one’s website up should be the first order of business for anyone attempting Internet marketing. But social media features can be added to your website to give you a more rounded social graph and encourage your site visitors to engage with you in more ways than one. The study cited above doesn’t give any indication about whether or not the small business owners surveyed approached social media in the right way. It’s just a survey. What would the next 500 businesses say?

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