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As social media use increases, there’s a growing expectation that organizations should respond to tweets and Facebook messages with the same urgency as email or phone – and not everyone is prepared. (JENNIFER ROBERTS/JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
As social media use increases, there’s a growing expectation that organizations should respond to tweets and Facebook messages with the same urgency as email or phone – and not everyone is prepared. (JENNIFER ROBERTS/JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Small Business Briefing

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Social media ire

As social media use increases, there’s a growing expectation that organizations should respond to tweets and Facebook messages with the same urgency as email or phone – and not everyone is prepared.

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Says Carol Rozwell, vice-president and distinguished analyst at Gartner: “The dissatisfaction stemming from failure to respond via social channels can lead to up to a 15-per-cent increase in churn rate for existing customers. It’s crucial that organizations implement approaches to handling social media now. The effort involved in addressing social media commentary is not good cause to ignore relevant comments or solvable issues.”

Ms. Rozwell offers some advice on how companies should approach and respond to social media inquiries more effectively.

Quebec welcomes Big Bleu

IBM has announced a major investment in a microelectronics research centre in Quebec.

IBM Canada president John Lutz was in Bromont with Quebec Premier Jean Charest on Tuesday at the inauguration ceremonies for the centre, which according to a press release will “support the creation of new companies and the stimulation of existing (small and medium-sized businesses) in the growing microelectronics industry.”

One of the hurdles for innovative ideas in Canada is making the leap from research to commercialization. The centre is designed to overcome that issue in such sectors as information and communications technology, automotive, aerospace, the environment and health care.

IBM’s contribution is a $100-million investment, 16 hectares of company-owned land to house the research centre, 190 highly skilled employees who will work there, and $11-million worth of equipment.

“The centre will promote the growth of this industry, build Canada’s capacity to conduct world-class research, and ultimately strengthen our position in the knowledge economy,” the press release adds.

In April, the federal and Ontario governments, along with IBM and seven universities, announced plans to establish a $210-million research-and-development centre to “use high performance and cloud computing infrastructure to better manage and analyze massive data sets to solve critical world challenges.”

A summertime slump for small business confidence

Optimism among Canada’s small and medium-sized businesses is at its lowest level since July, 2009.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), in its monthly Business Barometer index, has found that retailer optimism fell from 62.1 in June to 60.9 in July, “suggesting that consumers are getting cautious with their spending,” said the CFIB’s chief economist and vice-president Ted Mallett.

The good news? Hiring expectations have rebounded again, as 20 per cent of business owners plan to hire full-time staff in the next three or four months. You can read the full report here.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

Summit’s second coming

This year’s second Small Business Summit will be held on Oct. 4 in Vancouver, following the Calgary summit held earlier this year. Marla Kott, founder and CEO of Imprint Plus, will deliver a keynote, discussing her entrepreneurial success. Registration is open now, and those who sign-up before Aug. 31 can save more than 40 per cent with the kick-off rate.

VIA Rail chief speaks

On Aug. 29, VIA Rail president and CEO Marc Laliberte will speak as part of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Mr. Laliberte will discuss his beginnings as a mechanical engineer at CN, and the other executive positions he has held in the rail industry. Tickets are $39.95 for members, and $59.95 for non-members.

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Katryn Harris knows that not everyone is a believer in the value of holistic health. In fact, some perceive it as “weird or flaky.” And that’s precisely the challenge Ms. Harris faces as she tries to market her company’s latest service. How will she overcome this holistic health stigma and make her company's marketing efforts a success?

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Remember Wikileaks? Imagine if your managers or employees began disclosing the substance of internal memos, negotiation strategies during transactions, or sensitive and confidential information about your company too. Here's what your business can learn from the infamous diplomatic cable-leaking site.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com Join The Globe’s Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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