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Social networking a major business tool: survey

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CIOL Bureau
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MUMBAI, INDIA: Social networking has become a mainstream business tool in India with 52 per cent of businesses having successfully used social networks to win new business, said a new global survey commissioned by workspace solutions provider, Regus.

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Testimony to the faith businesses are now putting in the social networking medium is seen in the revelation that well over a quarter of businesses world-wide (27 per cent) have set aside a proportion of marketing budget — hard cash — specifically devoted to social networking activities, it said.

Up to now, relatively little analysis is available regarding the real use businesses are making of social networking and whether hard business can be generated through this channel.

Also read: Net has made social networking a global concept

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To know whether businesses globally believe that social networking is ready to take its place among an array of marketing tools, the survey asked business leaders not only whether they had made any customer wins using social networking, but also whether they believed the channel effective enough to be awarded its own portion of marketing budget.

Globally, social networks are still used for their original range of functions. The most popular use of social networks is staying in touch with business contacts, with 58 per cent of respondents globally declaring they use networks in this way.

Also read: Indian SMBs to double Internet spending

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According to the survey, joining special interest groups is also popular (54 per cent). Although a number of sceptics (34 per cent) believe social networking will never become a significant method of connecting to customers and prospects, a full 51 per cent of firms organize, connect to or manage customer groups via social networks. 54 per cent of firms use social networks to find out useful business information.

Surprisingly, however, only 22 per cent of respondents had found new employment through social networking, this in spite of the specific job search functions of networks such as LinkedIn, it added.

As per the survey, in India specifically almost a third (32 per cent) of businesses have set aside a proportion of marketing budget specifically devoted to social networking activities. 13 per cent more respondents in India used social networking to keep in touch with contacts and 71 per cent declared that the main usefulness of social networks was the possibility to manage and connect to customer groups.

Said Madhusudan Thakur, country head, Regus, “Our groundbreaking global survey has revealed that social networking has finally become a mainstream business tool. 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.”

With 600 million wireless connections and 9 million broadband subscribers and Gupshup, the most popular mobile social networking application numbering over 25 million members closely followed by Orkut and Facebook it is not surprising to find Indian firms ahead of the game, he added.

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