Seizing this opportunity, Facebook and others have made getting online less expensive and complicated than traditional website development; as a result, social platforms are becoming key enablers of the promotional and commercial activities of home-based businesses. A new study from IDC forecasts website ownership and online selling in US full-time and part-time home-based business markets through 2016. In addition to presenting home-based business counts, promotional and commercial activities are discussed including the use of social networking, email marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing (SEM), website optimization for mobile devices, banner advertisements, and the use of ecommerce platforms including eBay.com, craigslist.org, and Amazon.com. Key findings of the study include the following:
? Of the approximately 27 million total businesses in the United States, roughly three in four were home-based businesses at the end of 2011.
? Just over half of full-time home-based businesses currently have websites compared with less than 40% of part-time ventures.
? Approximately 40% of home-based businesses use social networks to promote their businesses. Social networking is still more often used as a supplement to website ownership than a substitute for it, but roughly 20% of home-based businesses currently promote themselves on social networks and do not have a conventional website.
? Nearly 40% of home-based businesses selling online do so without a website of their own, leveraging the high traffic of prominent destinations such as eBay, Amazon, craigslist, and other online marketplaces.
? The home-based business market opportunity is significant for software engineers, app developers, and website resource providers, with a relatively modest percentage of home-based businesses with websites currently practicing search engine optimization (SEO) or optimizing their websites for mobile device browsers.
“Websites have provided a relatively inexpensive way for businesses to efficiently reach local and international markets since the 1990s ? and yet less than half of home-based businesses currently have them,” said Justin Jaffe, research manager for small/medium-sized business and home business research at IDC.“Social networks have made online promotion less expensive and complicated, and Facebook and other social networks will become increasingly key players in empowering the marketing and commercial activity of home-based businesses.”]]>