Small Business Owners Name LinkedIn as the Most Useful Social Network

wsj-most useful social mediaThe Wall Street Journal asked small business owners which social media sites they used most often and which had the most potential to be useful in the future.

As you can see, LinkedIn came out on top, not only as the most used but look at that potential score. They beat every other side, even Facebook, with a big stick.

But, as I’ve said many times before, results are results but how you interpret them can vary. In this case, I’d like to see what kinds of businesses answered this survey. I can totally understand LinkedIn being the number one choice if the majority of the companies were B2B. LinkedIn excels in the area of industry networking.

If you’re looking to engage consumers, LinkedIn is not the place and that’s why I question these results. For consumer contact, Facebook (even though I grumble) is the place.

The WSJ reporter agrees. She quoted Todd DeMann, founder of a company that makes and delivers calorie-controlled meals as saying,

Facebook was the sixth-largest driver of online traffic to his website. Online scrapbook Pinterest, which the firm started using just four months ago, was 59th. Twitter ranked 117th. “On Twitter, you can’t engage in a meaningful way.”

Pinterest beat Twitter 59th over 117th? That hurts. He doesn’t say what the top five traffic drivers are but I imagine none of them are LinkedIn or the reporter would have mentioned that. (Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, Ms. Maltby.)

For Twitter, the only thing worse than their usage is their perceived potential. YouTube got 16% of the vote, even Google+ got 4%. The only thing worse than Twitter’s 3% was Pinterest and they have a very specific niche.

I like Twitter but maybe I’m wrong about it’s usefulness for business. Or maybe it’s just that the usefulness can’t be measured. Even if I don’t see a lot of clickthroughs from Twitter, I do see people sharing my articles and I’ve networked with a few interesting people thanks to my Twitter presence. I do agree with Mr. DeMann, that it’s not a place that encourages meaningful engagement but it’s good introduction to new products, ideas and people.

From a user standpoint, Twitter is my number one source for discovering new bloggers and my second source for news.

Where do you stand? Is Twitter an important part of your social media business plan?