Connecticut small, medium-sized businesses benefit from Facebook presence, new survey says

When Greg Nobile decided to add a barbecue restaurant to the vegetable stand that he purchased three years ago on South Montowese Street in Branford, he had a story that he wanted to tell about the history of the building and the process of converting the 1938 vintage Mobil station to include a year-round business.

“Part of the story that I wanted to tell is that this was a place that has so much history,” Nobile said. “We used a drone to take shots of the building as the work progressed and posted it on our Facebook page. It got 54,000 views and sort of went viral in the Shoreline area.”

A new survey released by Facebook suggests Nobile’s success story using the social media site as a tool for expanding small and mid-sized businesses is not unusual. The survey found that 64 percent of all small and mid-sized businesses surveyed consider Facebook an essential tool.

The 25-year-old Nobile said having grown up using Facebook, the social media platform was a key part of his business plan from the beginning. His business, The Stand, is now in its second year of operating as a combination vegetable stand and barbecue restaurant.

“It was the most cost-effective way to promote the business,” he said. “It gives us the flexibility to tell our story and to promote the business as changes become necessary. We are part of such a small community that it is an ideal tool.”

Other Connecticut-specific findings in the survey include:

Seventy percent of all small and mid-sized businesses said Facebook allows them to find customers in other cities, states or countries.

Fifty-two percent of businesses in those size categories found that Facebook has helped them hire additional employees.

When hiring new workers, 73 percent of the small and mid-sized businesses considered an individual’s digital and social media skills important when hiring, more than those who thought that where an individual went to school is important.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy and, at Facebook, we see real opportunity ... to build on the investments we have made, for years, in small businesses and better serve them as a community,” Aneesh Raman, who manages Facebook’s global economic impact programs, said. “That’s why we are launching new programs that will help more small businesses in more U.S. cities get the training they need to grow their business online and help more underemployed and unemployed workers get the digital skills they need to be competitive in today’s economy.”

The social media giant worked with Washington, D.C.-based Morning Consult to produce the survey.

Morning Consult conducted its first state-level surveys in May 2017, surveying leaders of 100 small and medium-sized businesses per state. The firm then conducted a follow-up national survey in August 2017 among a diverse sample of 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

Those business owners interviewed for the survey had fewer than 500 employees.