The purpose of this paper is to explore the role and economic impact that the internet, specifically websites and social media, have on small businesses. It aims to investigate the benefits available from the use of the internet and social media sites for small businesses that operate in underserved regions.
The research utilizes a case study methodology based on two surveys and semi-structured interviews with the owners or managers of five small companies in the western mountain region of Maine, a region described as underserved by the state departments of tourism and economic development – generally economically depressed, where the businesses are often struggling to survive.
Benefits from the use of websites and social media sites include an increase in awareness and inquiries, enhanced relationships with customers, an increase in the number of new customers, enhanced ability to reach customers on a global scale, and co-promotion of local businesses that enhance the image of small businesses in the region.
The small number of firms from a specific region in the USA limits generalizations from this study’s findings. However, the findings offer preliminary insights for future studies on the use of the internet and social media sites for small businesses.
The research provides evidence of potential advantages of utilizing web pages and social media sites for small businesses in underserved locations. The findings show that a web presence integrated with meaningful and sustained social media promotion can have a positive impact on business success in terms of increased traffic, awareness and revenues. This study has the potential to shed light on how internet technologies and social media can help struggling small businesses to communicate cost effectively with customers on a global scale, opening new opportunities for sales and growth.
By exploring the value of social media to small businesses, the authors hope to contribute to enhancement of the quality of life in small business and society as a whole.
This paper is among the few reports on how small businesses learn about, utilize, and benefit from the web pages and social media sites.
Jones, N., Borgman, R. and Ulusoy, E. (2015), "Impact of social media on small businesses", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 611-632. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSBED-09-2013-0133
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