Small companies are increasingly adopting social media for business purposes, with uptake expected to increase massively over the next two years.
That's according to a new study by IDC examining the evolution of social media use among Western European SMEs employing between 20 and 499 staff.
The report suggests 28.6 per cent of small businesses deploy some form of social media, such as a Twitter profile or a Facebook page, for business purposes. According to IDC, the larger the company, the more likely it is to have already adopted use of social media. That's partially because the most significant barrier to social media uptake by businesses is cost.
By 2014, use of social media by SMEs with 250 to 499 members of staff is expected to jump to 56 per cent, while even 40 per cent of firms with between 20 and 49 employees are also predicted to have a social media strategy.
"Adoption of social media tools within the business is progressing at a fast pace among Western European SMBs, as business executives are increasingly supportive," said Nina Bonagura, senior research analyst for IDC European Industry Solutions.
"Cost is nonetheless still a challenge, as economic conditions make it difficult to raise and set aside the necessary funds for investment," she added.
The increasing influence of social media can bring many benefits to businesses, but it also comes with challenges. Indeed, US banks have been told to implement a "risk management programme" in order to ensure employees don't inadvertently release sensitive information.