In the recent survey on social business that MIT Sloan Management Review conducted in collaboration with Deloitte, respondents were asked how important social business was to their business. When we looked at which companies answered "important" it became clear that size matters.

In the recent survey on social business that MIT Sloan Management Review conducted in collaboration with Deloitte, respondents were asked whether social business was unimportant, somewhat unimportant, neutral, somewhat important, or important to their business. The following chart shows those who answered “important,” cut by company size.

Clearly, size matters. The largest and smallest companies tend to perceive much more value from social tools than mid-sized companies. One reason may be that social tools enable smaller organizations to appear bigger, and larger companies to appear “smaller” — more accessible, responsive, and nimble.

When asked how important social software will be to their organization’s success in meeting challenges over the next two years, 31% of respondents in organizations with less than one thousand employees said it will be important to growing revenue, a much higher frequency than respondents from all other size businesses.

How can social tools generate more revenue? According to Gerald Kane, a professor at Boston College, smaller firms like social tools because “they may not have the buying power that larger firms have. They may not have the resources to conduct traditional media campaigns, but can use social media as a way of increasing their voice, as a way of connecting with customers, and as a way of making themselves seem bigger than they are.”

We’ll be looking at this and other questions more closely as MIT SMR and Deloitte continue to analyze data and conduct interviews as we prepare our research report for publication this spring.

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