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November 04, 2008

AMI: Social Networking Services for Business On the Rise

Social networking services are no longer restricted to sharing photos and messages among friends and relatives. They are widely being used by small enterprises as a means to promote their businesses. The wide-scale application of social networking services is forcing many providers to offer targeted services for business users.

A recent survey conducted by Access Markets International (AMI) Partners shows that the number of small businesses deploying social networking services in the United States will double over the next 12-month period to more than 600,000. Currently, there are about 300,000 small businesses (companies with up to 99 employees) in the U.S., about 5 percent of the total number of small businesses (SBs) in the U.S. that use social networking services for business purposes.
AMI finds that in order to grab the SB market in the U.S., social networking services must provide customized services that businesses can leverage in order to realize their business goals.
Social networking is a cost-effective alternative to improve the performance of business by creating awareness among the public. This method finds great relevance in today’s turbulent economic conditions, says AMI Partners.
Some social networking companies are creating branches dedicated to SBs and entrepreneurs. For example, Moli Small Business Center and are two Linked-In company groups that are part of its social network. In order to serve business users, the networking sites need to extend some of their services to ensure privacy controls and should facilitate business relationships among users and knowledge sharing based on experience.
Also, over the next 12 months, the study finds that about 500,000 SBs will use social networking as a resource for advertising and promotional activities, opening a new revenue stream for targeted advertising firms.
“As SBs struggle with the current economic downturn, business-focused social networking offers an effective, relatively inexpensive and lucrative opportunity to keep steady communication with existing partners and clients as well as incubating new relationships,” said Nikki Lamba, New York-based analyst at AMI Partners, in a statement.
“A growing number of businesses are already riding the wave and stand to gain from continued usage of social networking for business purposes,” Lamba added. “Those businesses not currently using social networking services will find that the resources available will be especially useful in competing under current market conditions.”
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Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart


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