Manta, the company exclusively dedicated to helping small businesses, recently conducted a study of how small businesses view social networks and the effectiveness they provide to their marketing. This study, which comes just as we begin to see an increase in social networks courting small business for advertising revenue, revealed some interesting insight, including that 59 percent of small business owners don’t see a return on investment (ROI) from their social media efforts.
“At first glance, social media may seem like a magic bullet for small business owners, offering free or low-cost access to new customers, new partners and a large community,” said John Swanciger, CEO of Manta. “However, while Facebook has a solid head start, none of the social networks have convinced small business owners that it’s worth a significant investment. Budget allocations indicate an atmosphere of testing among small business owners. As networks find ways to prove value, we might see social spend go up.”
Other results of the study revealed that Facebook remains the social media choice for small business owners, and 53 percent of respondents ranked the social media giant as returning the most value to their business, up from 29 percent in 2013. The value of other social networks, however, dropped significantly – Google+ at 15 percent, LinkedIn at 11 percent, Twitter and Pinterest at 5 and 2 percent, respectively.
47 percent of small businesses that do see ROI on social media report receiving less than $100 each month, a fact that supports why 49 percent of small business owners are unwilling to spend money on social media promotion. Based on these results the message is clear: social networks need to communicate real value to small business owners if they want more of their marketing dollars.
So what are small businesses using social media for and what is their focus? 37 percent are focusing on new customer acquisition, 17 percent are driving awareness for their business or brand and 15 percent are generating leads or referrals.
While only 34 percent of small business owners plan to increase their time on social media (down from 49 percent in 2013), their objectives are clear. Knowing this, Manta has a few tips to help small business owners get the most out of their time on social media:
- Follow the 80/20 rule. Use social media to talk about your business 20 percent of the time, but beware: going overboard with self-promotion can sink your social media credibility. Stay afloat and engage followers by talking about things other than business 80 percent of the time.
- Don’t put all of your social eggs in one basket.There are endless places to engage with potential customers, so mix it up. Most business owners rely heavily on Facebook, but each social channel caters to a different demographic. Customize messages to fit the platform and think about how your audience uses different social networks to consume information.
- Keep it fresh. No one wants to read the same post again and again. And since you should limit your words, think about the impact of each one. Keep messages persuasive and active.
Does your small business fall in line with the results of this study? Are you spending more or less time on social media?