This week, we get a look at how SMBs are using social media in new research from the SMB Group, Intermedia introduces backup services for companies that are looking at moving to the cloud, VMware is handed Moxy services by EMC, while both Dell and Acer have launched new servers to help SMBs deal with the growth in the amount of data that even small companies are getting.

SMBs, Social Media

While everyone knows that everyone else is using social media, how they are using it in general is still not entirely clear. The SMB Group (news, site) has produced research that gives insight into SMBs and social media.

Its latest report, 2011 Small and Medium Business Impact of Social Business Study -- the research for which was carried out in February 2011 -- is  based on the results of a 750-respondent Web based-survey of SMB social media decision makers and shows that 44% of small businesses (1 to 99 employees) and 52% of medium businesses (100 to 999 employees) are using social media in their businesses.

However, the social media tools that they use, the business functions that they use social media for, how they measure results and their satisfaction with social media varies depending on the type of business and the industry they are working in. The findings show that:

  • 26% use social media in a "structured, strategic way" while 20% say they use it in an ad hoc, informal way.
  • Retail, professional services, NGOs and personal services lead the social media adoption curve, while in medium business, education, professional services and retail lead the way.
  • SMBs that sell to consumers (B2C) and to other SMBs use social media more than SMBs that sell to large businesses and government.

Of those, of note is that those with strategies are more than twice as likely to be happy with the results, even if the capabilities of SMBs in general are still quite basic.

The smaller businesses tend to rely on softer metrics such as anecdotal feedback, with only 12% of all SMBs using free or paid social media monitoring and measurement tools. For more on this contact the SMB Group.

SMBs Still Growing

HP (news, site) has also been working extensively with the SMB market recently, and in the UK has found that SMBs have grown on average by 6% despite economic difficulties.

HP’s survey of 1,000 SMBs, with between 1 and 50 employees shows that, compared with that of the previous six months, growth for UK SMBs has slowed slightly, but optimism is still strong, with SMBs expecting to grow by up to 13% over the next year.

Nearly half of UK SMBs (48%) are turning to social media to help grow their business and reach new audiences, with 56% per cent of sole traders recognizing its value the most.

However, although SMBs are finding it most useful for networking and advertising, the report says that many SMBs are underestimating its growth possibilities. If you want to see more on this, check out the blog post.

EMC Gives VMware Moxy

Another strong area of interest in the SMB space is cloud computing and adoption. This probably explains why EMC (news, site) has announced that it has handed over the Mozy cloud-based data protection services to VMware (news, site), which you may recall it now owns.

VMware will operate the Mozy service on behalf of EMC without interruption.

The Mozy team help extend VMware’s reach in the SMB community as SMBs move slowly toward the cloud. According to VMware, in the past year, its customer base grew by more than 50,000 customers, the majority of which came from the SMB space and many through its VMware Go offer.

With all these SMBs moving to public clouds, VMware says it wants to be able to provide easier access to the Mozy back-up service, as well as other related data services to come.

Mozy will also be able -- in the future -- to offer its data compression, synchronization, client integration and analytic tools to extend several existing and not-yet-announced VMware products. A smart move when you consider that one of the biggest obstacles to cloud computing in the space is SMB concern around data security.

Intermedia Offers SMBs Backup

Meanwhile, Intermedia (news, site) has also been looking at backup services for SMBs and has also been using Mozy. Intermedia is a Microsoft Exchange hosting provider and has launched an Online Backup service SMBs can use to back up files on their employees’ desktops and laptops. The service is powered by Mozy.

Businesses set up and manage Online Backup from Intermedia’s HostPilot Control, giving them access to cloud services without having to use multiple control panels.

Running in the background on users’ computers, Online Backup backs up the current version of files and folders in case a computer is lost or damaged, or a file is inadvertently deleted.

It is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems and will also be available for resale by Intermedia’s Private Label Partners soon.

Acer, Dell Launch Storage Products

Finally, in the storage space, Acer (news, site) has announced that it has extended its line of server and storage solutions for the U.S. market to include a family of storage systems for SMB businesses.

The storage systems are integrated with Acer's server solutions, and are designed to help customers manage escalating storage growth while optimizing data security and availability for Microsoft Exchange Server, VMware, databases and other business applications.

Clearly, there is a lot of potential for these kinds of products in the SMB market, as Dell (news, site) also announced the release of several new and enhanced servers, storage systems and networking products.

In both cases, the companies say that they are offering SMBs the chance to manage the huge growth of data that now threatens to swamp a lot of companies using older servers that were never designed to take the information loads that are being thrown at them.