Value of social media networks for small businesses

Hands holding smartphone

SMEs which use online social media networks are more likely to grow their sales.

Family-owned businesses which use social media networks are more likely to have a higher annual turnover and grow their sales than those that do not, new research has found.

The study, led by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), also found that family-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which use online business networks such as LinkedIn tend to have an innovative approach to products and processes.

The findings highlight the importance of supporting SMEs to access online business networks by improving digital infrastructures and connectivity – such as satellite Internet, superfast broadband or 5G network - particularly in rural areas.

The report also recommends providing IT and digital business support and a digital skills training programme to rural SMEs to educate them about the benefits of having social media business networks.

This would highlight the potential of SMEs to build social capital and resources via digital means at low costs and increase their ability to work with modern technologies and improve their odds of thriving in the digital world.

Lead researcher Dr Pattanapong Tiwasing said: “This empirical research highlights some practical implications for policymakers, practitioners and academic researchers to help unlock digital potential for business performance and improve online business support environments amongst family-owned SMEs.

“This is particularly important for family businesses in the primary and secondary sectors, since those in the service sector - such as the tourism, food and beverage industries - are likely to be well-connected with social media business networks through their online services and operations.”

The research analysed data from 9,292 English and Welsh family-owned SMEs from the Longitudinal Small Business Survey 2015 commissioned by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

It was conducted in partnership with Dr Yoo Ri Kim from the University of Surrey and Professor Sukanlaya Sawang from Coventry University and published in the Journal of Family Business Management.

The report can be accessed here.

Posted by SRUC on 19/10/2022

Tags: Business Management
Categories: Research