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One Third Of Canadian Businesses Have Used Social Media To Attract New Clients [SURVEY]

Deviating slightly from our ‘investing‘ related articles, today we wanted to highlight the results of a recent survey [PDF] regarding the rising role of social networking in the world of business. As a primer, social networking involves the use of online devices, apps and websites to facilitate the process of communication with friends, acquaintances and even prospective clients. The most popular websites facilitating social networking include Facebook, MySpace, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIn.

34 Percent of Canadian Businesses Have Used Social Media to Win New Business

Perhaps the most telling of all the findings of the survey is that two in every five companies (40%) globally have successfully used social networks to find and acquire new customers. While there might be considerable variance in this finding depending on the country, as companies in Belgium/Luxembourg scored 27% while those in India scored 52%, the underlying fact is that companies are increasingly relying on social networking as a mainstream tool for client prospecting and customer acquisition. In Canada, the survey found that 34% of Canadian businesses had used social media to win new business.

Carried out on behalf of Regus, the world’s leading global provider of innovative workplace solutions, the survey reveals that when it comes to business use, a growing number of companies throughout the world are actively doing business through social networks, even though a minority hardcore of social media skeptics (34%) seems to exist. The number of social media skeptics (28%) is lower than average. Whilst the most popular function of social media networks is to keep in touch with contacts as social networks were traditionally conceived to enable, business has stretched the use of this channel to include new customer acquisition, customer retention, information sourcing and creation and management of customer groups and even monitoring of trends in special interest groups. In Canada, 53% of respondents used social networking to keep in touch with contacts, slightly below the global average of 58% while only 49% declared that they used social networks to source relevant information (globally 54%).

Smaller sized businesses (44%) have found social networking particularly successful in successfully acquiring new customers through professional social networking, compared with medium sized businesses (36%) and large sized businesses (28%). In Canada, medium companies (60%) proved to be more successful at acquiring new clients via social networking, compared to small companies (34%) and large companies (15%). Furthermore, 27% of those surveyed indicated that they have a formal marketing budget line devoted to retaining customers. In terms of sectors, this funded professional social networking ranges from 19% in Banking & Financial Services to 38% in the Media & Marketing and the Retail industries, the survey found. In Canada specifically, 28% of businesses have set aside a proportion of marketing budget devoted to social networking activities.

The Regus survey, which polled 15,000 businesses across 75 countries (during February and March 2010) clearly shows that businesses are generating new business through professional social networking activity, and are confident enough to devote formal marketing funds to customer retention activity through the same channel, much to the chagrin of those who claim that social media use for business reasons fails to deliver a return on investment. Reflecting on the results of the survey, Wes Lenci, regional vice president for Regus Canada stated “While the most popular function of these networks remains that of keeping in touch with contacts, businesses are also successfully acquiring new customers, supporting their retention efforts and interacting with customer groups. With 33 percent of the country logged onto Facebook (Source) and more than two million Canadians on LinkedIn (Source), reservations towards using social networks professional seem misplaced.” It is clear from the results of this survey that businesses are generating new business through professional social networking activity and are confident enough to devote formal marketing funds to customer retention activity through the same channel.

To sum up, adds Lenci, “This survey indicates that organizations who have not yet ventured into the world of social networking may be missing out on sizeable business opportunities.”

Have you or someone you know used social networking as a means for acquiring new clients? Let us know in the comments below.

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