Customer reviews on social media have become an important part of the consumer shopping experience, and when leveraged effectively are a great tool for driving new business.
However, new research from digital signage software and social media wall provider, Enplug, reveals that 1 in 3 (34%) American small business owners don't think social media is important to their business.
Enplug commissioned independent firm YouGov to poll 506 American small business owners and 1,155 customers on their social media habits from February 27 to March 2.
The research ultimately found that small business owners are not taking social media seriously as a growth tool - despite that more than half (57%) of consumers say they would be somewhat or very influenced to think more positively about a business after seeing praise online via social media (or review sites such as Yelp).
"In a world where communication is increasingly conducted on social networks, it's clear small businesses have a prime opportunity to reach their customers more effectively, and more immediately, than ever before," said Nanxi Liu, CEO of Enplug. "In fact, it's now a consumer expectation that not only can they learn about a business on social media, but that they can talk with the business - whether it's to troubleshoot a problem or simply give praise."
Social media reviews are making a large impact on the purchasing decisions of consumers - especially millennials. Enplug's research found that 80% of Snapchat users would be somewhat or very influenced to think more positively about a business that had positive comments or recommendations on social media/Yelp. The same influence followed for Instagram (76%), Pinterest (70%), Twitter (66%), LinkedIn (65%), and Facebook users (63%).
While small business owners are failing to recognize social media's importance, there are opportunities available to them for driving positive reviews. Enplug's research found that one in eight (13%) consumers are more likely to post/share a positive review if the business highlights or promotes it in real-time on-premise or on social media.
"We advocate for the use of social media by small businesses because it's proven to improve relationships between small businesses and their customers," said Liu. "Enplug has seen first-hand how the use of social media, whether on a digital display in an establishment or on a mobile device, can influence what customers think about a small business."