The BT Tradespace research, which examined how small businesses market themselves, how they network and the technology they use to do so, found that 15% of companies are now promoted on social networking sites compared to just 7% at the beginning of the year*.
The survey revealed that start-up companies log on the most, with one in five (22%) using social networking sites, compared to just one in ten home-based (13%) and growing businesses (11%).
The research also revealed that whilst the majority of companies are aware of the benefits of online marketing, just over half have a company website (52%) and over a fifth of businesses (22%) do no marketing at all.
Mick Hegarty, head of BT Tradespace said: "More and more businesses are starting to use social networking platforms to win and attract new customers. But many are still failing to realise the full potential of the web to help them compete and thrive in our changing world. Smaller companies do much of their business through relationships and referrals and professional networking enables them to play to their strengths whenever they interact with customers, suppliers and business partners."
To help small businesses harness technology and attract new customers, BT has launched a new platform, called Marketplace, on its social networking site, BT Tradespace. With new ecommerce features, deeper navigation, enhanced search functionalities and richer content, this free online community offers a greater experience and more interactive relationships for companies, individual sellers and customers looking to do business.
Hegarty continued: "Social media is constantly evolving and the launch of Marketplace demonstrates our commitment to offer businesses tools that allow them to communicate with consumers in the same way that they communicate with each other. With over 270,000 customers to date, BT Tradespace makes online marketing simple, interactive and most importantly, cost-effective for businesses in the current economic climate."
The research also revealed a clear regional split across the country. London topped the league table, with 24% of businesses using social networking sites to market their company. This was following by the South East and North West with 19% each, compared with just 8% of businesses in Scotland.