Social media is quickly becoming one of the key ways businesses attract new customers and is closing in on the current leader – face-to-face.
According to the latest research from workspace provider Regus, - which surveyed over 2,700 senior business managers across the UK - the majority of businesses in the UK (78%) believe face-to-face networking will remain the best way to find new customers over the next two to three years. However social media is catching up fast at 58%, up from 43% in the previous three years, and has knocked online advertising into third place. Traditional advertising, direct marketing and telemarketing only gain a minority vote, and are all in decline.
Online advertising however isn't dying out, it's also increased as well. Half of UK respondents declared online advertising to be one of the top channels to find new customers in the next three years, up from 42% in the previous three.
Face-to-face networking remains the top new business technique, despite a three percent fall over the previous period. However, the increasing importance of professional social networking sites such as BranchOut, Viadeo and Xing stands out in the research.
Other ways of networking included; hiring well-connected sales people (24%) and public speaking at key events (37%) are also regarded as significant tools for future customer recruitment.
In the UK 80% of small businesses believe that face-to-face networking will be key to recruiting customers over the next three years, compared to only 72% of large businesses.