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Use and measurement of social media for SMEs

Margaret McCann (Department of Management, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Alexis Barlow (Department of Management, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 18 May 2015




The purpose of this paper is to investigate why small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are using social media and how they should measure its return on investment (ROI). The measurement of economic value associated with the use of social media by business is discussed in order to construct a model designed for analysing the ROI of social media for SMEs. The importance of a planned entry into the social media arena, formulation of measurable goals and objectives and understanding the business process are presented as vital pre-cursors to measuring, and indeed attaining, ROI.


A literature review was compiled to explore the current thinking that exists on business use and measurement of social media in mainstream academic literature and other business-oriented publications. Primary research in the form of a survey was conducted with SMEs to determine the usefulness of social media and how SMEs measure its ROI.


SMEs find some social media applications more valuable than others but 65 per cent of the companies surveyed did not measure the ROI. An overarching framework, aimed at SMEs, is presented which advocates that SMEs should take a strategic focus and plan their use of social media, and draw insight from both quantitative and qualitative data when measuring ROI.


Most existing research on social media is related to large organisations and tends to focus on technical and commercial use rather than examining the value and ROI gained from social media from an SME perspective. This paper offers a simple framework to help SMEs plan their use of social media as well as measure its true value.



With thanks to Michael Bromby, David Broom, Glasgow Caledonian University and Gary Ennis, NS Design.


McCann, M. and Barlow, A. (2015), "Use and measurement of social media for SMEs", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 273-287.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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