Businesses acquiring customers through social networks – survey

8 Jul 2010

Forty per cent of businesses in Ireland have used social networks to win new business, according to a new global survey commissioned by Regus.

The survey also found that 26pc of Irish businesses have set aside a proportion of their marketing budget specifically for social-networking activities.

In Ireland, 41pc of companies plan to devote a proportion of their marketing budget to social-networking activities by the end of 2010. Some 48pc of respondents in Ireland used social networking to keep in touch with contacts, slightly below the global average (58pc).

The same percentage of Irish-based respondents (48pc) said the main usefulness of social networks is the ability to manage and connect to customer groups (compared with 51pc globally), while 53pc use them to find important business information (54pc globally). Just over one-fifth (21pc) of respondents said they are sceptical that social networking could ever become an effective customer retention or prospecting tool (34pc globally).

Differences regarding company sizes

The survey also analysed company size differences and found that overall, small companies were a little more likely than average to use social networking. Perhaps due to this greater than average effort with the medium, 44pc of small companies have successfully acquired new customers through social networking compared to 36pc of medium companies and 28pc of large businesses. 

On a sector basis, the ICT, retail, media and marketing and consultancy sectors made an above average use of social networking, while manufacturing, financial services and the health sector were lagging behind.

“Our groundbreaking global survey has revealed that social networking has finally become a mainstream business tool,” said Michael Barth, regional manager, Northern Europe, Regus. “Although there is a hardcore of sceptics globally, who do not believe that social networks will become a significant method of reaching customers and prospects, a significant proportion of firms are devoting real marketing budgets through the medium to acquire new customers and keep existing ones.

“Whilst the most popular function of these networks remains that of keeping in touch with contacts, businesses are also successfully acquiring new customers, supporting their retention efforts and interacting with customer groups. This survey indicates that organisations who have not yet ventured into the world of social networking may be missing out on sizeable business opportunities. This is particularly the case in the Netherlands (48pc), India (52pc), Mexico (50pc) and Spain (50pc), where the highest level of new customer acquisition via social networking was reported.”

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