Small businesses power American commerce, comprising 99% of firms in the country. By hiring employees, promoting workforce diversity, and fostering increased participation in the global marketplace, small-business owners strengthen local communities as well as the overall U.S. economy.
Increasingly, small-business owners count on technology to start and scale their companies. And there is growing evidence that technology supports millions of small businesses in the United States (see Appendix 2). Indeed, everything from the way consumers find and purchase products and services to the way small businesses market and ship their wares is influenced by new technologies.
Although there is evidence of the importance of technology for small businesses, the unique role of social networking systems within this ecosystem is less documented.
In order to better understand the impact of digital tools and social media on small businesses in America, the tech policy hub of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Technology Engagement Center (C_TEC), partnered with Morning Consult, a research and technology firm, and Facebook to explore how small businesses are using social media and digital platforms to grow, sell, and hire.
This paper presents results from national surveys of businesses and consumers on their use of digital tools for business and professional activities. The results indicate that technology is widely used by small businesses across the country. Additionally, a case study of Facebook indicates that small businesses are using social media to grow, hire, and trade.
Examining the use of digital platforms as a whole in the United States, the national small business survey finds that the use of digital platforms by small enterprises is ubiquitous:
- 84% of small enterprises are using at least one major digital platform to provide information to customers;
- 80% are using at least one major platform to show products and services, as well as to advertise;
- 79% are using digital tools to communicate with customers and suppliers; and
- 75% are using tech platforms for sales.
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