A survey conducted by the Forum of Private Business (FPB) found that 52% of respondents who use social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, regard them as ‘not useful’ or ‘useless’ to their businesses.

Of course, if this statistic is true it means that, by implication, 48% of small businesses do find social media useful. This underlines a strong trend in the adoption of social internet technologies.

I suspect that many small business owners buy into the myth that social media media is ‘free, easy and anyone can do it’; and that’s where the disappointment lies.

Having a smart strategy and putting the necessary resources behind implementing it are basic keys to success. Just slapping up a Facebook page or spending time tweeting out sales offers are activities doomed to failure and bound to be deemed ‘useless’.

Another question raised by the survey is ‘how is success defined?’ Many SMEs measure success only in pennies and pounds by necessity. However if they are expecting social media platforms to deliver hard sales targets they are bound to be disappointed.

Yes, using social media to engage with customers will likely lead to more sales, but these will be delivered as a result of stronger relationships, increased levels of trust and engagement. Not many Facebookers will land on a page and immediately place an order. This is an unrealistic expectation.

There is plenty of free information and resources available online for small business owners to find out how better to use social media. Also, there is a growing number of social media consultants where good advice and sound strategy can be had. That said, there are more than enough social media snake oil salesmen too. So choose advisers wisely.