Belfast Telegraph

Small business owners in Northern Ireland seek advice from social media

By Clare Weir

More than one in 10 small business owners in Northern Ireland are turning to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for advice - with some even saying they seek more guidance from social media than they do from their accountant or lawyer.

The statistics come from the latest Close Brothers Business Barometer, a quarterly poll that canvassed over 700 SME owners and managers from several industries in the UK and Ireland.

Despite the growing influence of social media, the survey found that more than two-fifths of business owners surveyed in the country still trust online advice less than traditional sources.

Harry Parkinson, managing director of Close Brothers Commercial Finance in Ireland, which conducted the study, said that social media has had a significant impact on how SMEs seek advice.

However he said that when it comes to financial guidance, business owners should seek professional advice.

"It is easier than ever before for SME owners to connect with their peers and social networks allow access to a growing platform for discussion and debate," he said.

"They can use it to help develop both their business strategies and knowledge, and significantly, there are minimal costs involved.

"Anyone can offer their opinions online so while it's great that companies are using social networks to boost their knowledge, it's somewhat reassuring to see they still approach the information with a degree of caution."

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