The 72 per cent of small business owners who have embraced social media believe it has been a success, according to a survey from American Express.

But seven in 10 owners have some concerns about using it, predominately related to privacy (36 per cent) and the time required (34 per cent).

Amelia Zaina, director of marketing and customer engagement, small business services at American Express said: “While there’s a degree of apprehension surrounding the use of social media for business, two-fifths of small business owners are making use of it and are reaping the benefits of their investment.”

Those currently using social media reveal that they use social media to build relationships with customers, generate leads or new customers (52 per cent) and to market their products and services (50 per cent).

Over the next 12 months, one-in-five small business owners expect to spend more time and money on their social media presence, with current users the most likely to increase their investment (39 per cent).

Countering concerns regarding the resources and time required for social media, the majority of users say they spend just three hours or less on social media in their business each week. At around $550, the average cost of developing a social media presence doesn’t appear to have blown small business owners’ budgets.

Furthermore, most owners using social media have not received any negative comments (56 per cent) – a concern for 15 per cent of those surveyed. For owners who have experienced negative comments, the issue has typically been addressed openly on the platform in a polite manner (22 per cent) or else privately offline (15 per cent).

“It is understandable that small business owners have reservations about social media because it opens a business up to the community. However, with careful planning and by identifying the most effective use of social media for their business, it can deliver great returns,” Zaina said.