As Traditional Web Site Adoption Slows, Facebook and Other Social Networks Become Key Platforms for Home-Based Business Promotional and Commercial Activity Online, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., May 30, 2012 – Since the 1990s, Web sites have provided a relatively inexpensive way for businesses to efficiently reach local and international prospects. Still, this basic form of online promotion continues to be perceived by many as difficult and costly to set up and maintain, and less than half of home-based businesses currently have a Web site. Seizing this opportunity, Facebook and others have made getting online less expensive and complicated than traditional Web site development; as a result, social platforms are becoming key enablers of the promotional and commercial activities of home-based businesses.

A new study from International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts Web site ownership and online selling in U.S. 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), Web site optimization for mobile devices, banner advertisements, and the use of ecommerce platforms including eBay.com, craigslist.org, and Amazon.com.

Key findings of this 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 Web sites 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 Web site 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 Web site.

Nearly 40% of home-based businesses selling online do so without a Web site 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 Web site resource providers, with a relatively modest percentage of home-based businesses with Web sites currently practicing search engine optimization (SEO) or optimizing their Web sites for mobile device browsers.

"Web sites 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."

In U.S. Home-Based Business Online 2012–2016 Forecast: Assessing the Impact of Facebook on Web Sites and Commercial Activity Online (IDC #234951), forecasts Web site ownership and online selling as well as broadband Internet access and PC ownership in U.S. full-time and part-time home-based business markets through 2016. In addition to presenting home-based business counts, other topics discussed include promotional and commercial activities including the use of social networking, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), Web site optimization for mobile devices, and banner advertisements and the use of ecommerce platforms including eBay.com, craigslist.org, and Amazon.com. Additional details are available to IDC clients by request. Follow Justin Jaffe on Twitter: @justinjaffe..

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.