Researchers commissioned by the Discover Card have tracked a substantial increase in the number of small business owners using social networking sites over the past three years, according to a new report. However, analysts warn, their relative lack of participation on Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare could leave small business owners wondering why they bothered "friending" customers in the first place.

Comparing numbers from the October 2007 and the October 2010 editions of the Discover Small Business Watch survey, researchers noted a shift in the amount of time small business owners and managers invest each week in online promotion and marketing. While most respondents spent less than one hour per week online in 2007, more than a third of business owners surveyed reported investing between three and seven hours each week on the web.

Three out of five business owners surveyed said they belonged to one of the most popular social networking websites. However, less than a third of respondents said they specifically used social media to promote their businesses. Half of the business owners surveyed said they preferred getting new business leads from social media over receiving tips or vendor suggestions.

About the Author

joe

Joe Taylor Jr. is an internal business consultant for a Fortune 500 company, who writes about finance, culture, and design. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from Ithaca College.