Social enterprises – that is, not-for-profit businesses set up to help the community or those at a disadvantage – are considerably more advanced in their use of tools such as Twitter and Facebook than other small and medium-sized organisations, which can mean a significant boost to their bottom line, suggests a new study by British telecom giant O2.
A survey of more than 500 of these enterprises revealed that almost two-thirds (64%) use social media in the daily running of their business, which compares with just one-in-ten traditional small businesses.
Some 85% of these social enterprises use Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn to promote their products and services.
- Facebook, LinkedIn (91%)
- Twitter (70%)
- Blogs (40%)
41% of those surveyed network online with other organisations and more than a third (38%) use these channels to liaise and develop ideas with other businesses. Two-fifths (42%) described social media as very important in the running of their business.
And it’s easy to see why – the research goes on to suggest that the use of social media could increase an SME’s bottom line by £200,000 ($325,000), and two-thirds of the enterprises polled say that they expect social media will boost their sales by 15% over the next 12 to 18 months.
There are an estimated 60,000 social enterprises in the UK alone.
“It’s perhaps not surprising to find so many social enterprises making effective use of social media given they don’t always enjoy the same established networks of customers, partners and suppliers that larger businesses do,” says Simon Devonshire, General Manager of SME business at O2. “However, our experience suggests they are considerably more advanced in their use of such technologies than more mainstream businesses, and the extent to which social media is fuelling growth is truly striking – it is becoming an indispensible part of such businesses’ growth plans, helping them promote products and services, build their brands, and develop ideas and innovations.”