Are Small Businesses Really Able to Take Advantage of Social Media?
Keywords:Keywords: social media, web 2.0, enterprise 2.0, web-oriented technology, micro and small enterprises, innovative technologies.
AbstractAbstract: In recent years the adoption of ICT by small enterprises has been growing thanks to prices reduction, diffusion of digital services in SaaS modality, cloud computing and ICT consumerization. However little is known about how small enterprises use these technologies and in particular social media. Social media open up a new way of doing business, based on innovative concepts such as sharing, collaboration and co‑creation. However, this is a little‑known model, with still unknown implications on management and organization. For this reason it is not enough to know how much small enterprises use social media, but it is necessary to understand how small enterprises use them. The aim of the paper is to understand if small enterprises are able to fully exploit social media potentialities. To this end a sample of 48 Italian small firms is analyzed. Data has been collected by websites analysis, a questionnaire survey and interviews with entrepreneurs and/or ICT/Marketing managers. Results show that, although social media are quite common among small businesses, they are not always able to use these tools in a truly profitable way. Social media are often introduced because they are "fashionable", because companies feel "forced" to use them, as "all competitors do it". The research, however, has highlighted the existence of a wide range of different situations. Together with low innovative businesses, in fact, there are also other small businesses that are very open to the use of social channels and interactive technologies and able to take full advantage of their adoption. Entrepreneurs mentality makes a difference in these companies, and in particular entrepreneurs ability to conceive new ways of doing business and his willingness to get involved with new initiatives.
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