The Business of Social Networking

Surfer's Paradise
photo by Business Wire

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I think I can confidently say that, a few years from now, members of  the small business community (including travel agents who work from home) will look back and say that social networking was the biggest revolution to impact them in their lifetime. While a year or two ago there was some kicking and screaming along the way, now it’s hard to find any agent who hasn’t come around to these social platforms—Facebook, in particular.

Indeed, small businesses overall flocked to social media in 2009, with their adoption of the technology doubling from 12 percent to 24 percent, according to a new University of Maryland/Network Solutions study.

As reported in Inc. magazine, the study shows that nearly one in five small business owners are mashing social media into the daily (and hourly) lives of their companies, with the most popular sites being Facebook and LinkedIn. Of the business owners using social media, 75 percent have company pages on the two sites, and 69 percent use status updates on the same two. Just 16 percent use Twitter.

Small business owners' biggest hopes (and current use) for social media is for lead generation. Three out of five respondents use it to identify and attract new customers.

There are still a few diehards out there who have not yet embraced this movement with open arms— 6 percent of those surveyed think the medium has hurt their business more than it has helped it, with 17 percent expressing concern that it gives people a chance to criticize the company publicly. But all in all, adoption of social networking technology continues to rise and for home-based travel agents it appears to be a win-win.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your feedback. Is there a down side to the social networking explosion? Post a comment below. Write us on our Facebook page. Send a tweet to our Twitter page, or log in to AgentNation to discuss the topic in real time.