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Only one-third (35%) of small business owners cite social media as a beneficial tactic for their business, though views about the usefulness of social marketing vary by industry, according to a survey from Hiscox.

Among surveyed small business owners, tactics such as word-of-mouth referrals (79%) and advertising (44%) rank ahead of social media in overall business benefit:

In addition, fully 40% of small business owners say their website is beneficial for marketing, 32% cite opportunities with business partners, and 21% cite SEO, the study found.

Below, additional findings from Hiscox.

Views about the benefits of social media vary by industry: Small business in the IT (information technology) and media services industry (42%) are more likely than those in business services (31%) or auto repair (18%), for example, to find social media beneficial to their business.

Even so, among all small businesses surveyed, nearly one in four (23%) would like to use social media for business, say they don't have the time (7%) or need to learn more about it (16%).

More than one-half (55%) of small business owners say they are optimistic about 2013. Business owners in the Southwest are the most optimistic, with Texans leading the way:

Other key findings:

  • 50% of small businesses reported profit growth in 2012.
  • 44% say they are now both stronger and more determined to succeed than ever.
  • 38% say the weak economy has spurred them to work more efficiently.
  • 27% say they asked for outside help to solve a business problem in 2012.

About the data: Findings are from a survey of 500 US small business owners and managers, conducted by Hiscox in third quarter of 2012.

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