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One in three businesses “likes” social media


June 12, 2012
By Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery

June 12, 2012, Toronto — A new BMO Bank of Montreal study suggests
one-third of Canadian businesses have a social media presence.

The same number of entrepreneurs suggest that social media has helped their business prosper.

Over the past few years, social media has become an integral part of
everyday life for most Canadians. With more than 18 million Canadian
members, over half of the population is on Facebook alone. Businesses
have been quick to seize upon the advantages of being present in this
online sphere.

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"Earlier this year, BMO surveyed business owners and found that half of
Canadian small businesses believe that social media has the potential to
increase their profitability. Mid-way into 2012, almost 50 per cent of
those who anticipate growth attribute it in part to their online
presence. Canadian businesses are clearly embracing social media as a
cost effective yet powerful marketing and customer relations tool," said
Cathy Pin, vice-president of commercial banking with BMO Bank of
Montreal.

The study, conducted by Leger Marketing, also revealed that:

  • Two in five business owners who anticipate growth this year (43
    per cent) agree that social media has helped their business prosper
  • By sector, businesses in the arts, travel and tourism industries
    make more use of social media than other industries. Sixty-seven per
    cent use at least one form of social media for business purposes. This
    compares to 33 per cent of businesses in mining, oil and gas, and
    manufacturing sectors.
  • Eastern Canadian businesses are the least likely to see the merits
    of social media, with 48 per cent saying that social media has not
    helped their business. By contrast, 36 per cent of businesses in western
    Canada say that social media has helped their business.

Of businesses that use social media, the study found that Facebook is
the most important social media site, with over one-quarter of
businesses (27 per cent) active on the site. Fifteen per cent of
businesses use LinkedIn while only one in 10 use Twitter.

The most frequent business tweets come from Ontario, where one in six
small businesses have an active account, compared to 6 per cent of
businesses in eastern Canada.

Social media as a marketing tool

The study also confirmed the top three reasons businesses use social media:

  • To promote brand or reputation (33 per cent)
  • To gather ideas or suggestions from people (23 per cent)
  • To sell business products or services (23 per cent)

"Social media, while still a relatively new communication and marketing
channel, is definitely here to stay. We anticipate it playing an
increasingly important role for Canadian businesses, as they look for
cost effective ways to open new markets and broaden and deepen their
connection with customers," said Pin. "Our customers are also telling us
they value opportunities to interact with other businesses, network
online and share insights and experiences."

Pritesh Gandhi, senior manager of digital marketing and strategy with
BMO Bank of Montreal, noted that social media tools have become more
advanced over the past five years, and offer various benefits to
business owners.

"While the most popular application is Facebook, there are other
networks and tools that can offer benefits to businesses. For instance,
LinkedIn is very effective in building and maintaining contacts for
recruitment and knowledge sharing purposes, while the effective use of
Twitter can help to keep the dialogue open with your customers and
respond to queries in real time."

The challenge is that a social media presence takes time to build, and
the impact on the bottom line is more difficult to measure than some
more traditional forms of marketing.

"At BMO Bank of Montreal, we advise our clients that it's important to
identify precisely how they want to use social media to reach their
audience/to meet their business objectives. With so many tools at one's
disposal, properly targeting these efforts will help generate an
effective social media marketing strategy, and help measure social media
success," said Pin.

The online survey was conducted by Leger Marketing between March 21 and
April 12, using a sample of 500 Canadian business owners. A probability
sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of 4.38 per cent,
19 times out of 20.


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