A recent study conducted by the online marketing firm Vertical Response and reported on in Forbes concludes that small businesses are spending more time on social media but struggling with the added workload it represents. Perhaps as a consequence, most are doing social media marketing in a vacuum because they’re not tracking results, which means they have no way of quantifying if their time and effort are paying off.
“Our survey confirms that small businesses are understanding the value of social media,” says Vertical Response CEO and founder Janine Popick. “They’re spending more time doing it, and investing more money into it at a faster rate. But the extra work will likely lead to time management issues, especially for the small business owner who’s handling social media on top of all the other responsibilities of running a company. This implies that small businesses are in need of tactics and tools now to help them save time.”
The study, conducted among almost 500 Vertical Response customers, focused on a variety of social media activities ranging from finding and sharing content to blogging. The firm was interested in knowing which platforms small businesses are most active on, their marketing and social media budgets, and how much they’re spending on tools to manage and analyze social media efforts. Findings include:
Two-thirds of small businesses are spending more time on social media today than they did a year ago.
- Forty-three percent of those surveyed spend over six hours per week on social media, 25 percent spend six to ten hours per week and 18 percent spend more than 11 hours per week.
- Facebook is still the king of social media for small businesses, with 90 percent reporting that they post there. Nearly 70 percent tweet on Twitter, 50 percent are connected on LinkedIn, 32 percent show up on Google Plus and 29 percent pin on Pinterest.
- One-third of the CEOs, owners and proprietors who responded said they want to spend less time on social media.
- More than half (55 percent) of small businesses operate a blog. Among those that do, 45 percent spend one to three hours to create a post, while 16 percent require more than three hours.
- Respondents ranked the following from most to least time consuming: finding and posting content, learning and education, analyzing efforts, scoping out the competition and responding to questions.
- Some small businesses rely on tools to publish and analyze their social media. Thirty-six percent pay for publishing and analytic tools; 58 percent spend $26 or more per month on it.
- Social media budgets are on the rise, with four times as many small businesses having increased their budgets compared to those that have decreased their budgets. By comparison, only twice as many businesses have increased their overall marketing budgets.
Food for thought: Writing for Forbes, Carol Tice admitted that she was surprised that fully half of the business owners said they never use LinkedIn.
“My experience as a solo owner of my own freelance writing and coaching business is that LinkedIn is the online phone book for hiring solopreneurs. Heavyweight companies do searches on there every day, looking for providers to hire,” she says, adding that it “seems foolish not to have a presence on LinkedIn, especially when the platform demands so much less of you than Facebook or Twitter. A weekly status update and maybe a few questions answered or comments made in groups, and you’re good.
So, how does my company stay afloat, you ask? Good question.
To increase effectiveness and to save you time, follow this four step process to create your social media strategy.
- Establish Goals for Your Social Media Activities: These should tie to your overall business priorities.
- Deploy Resources Based on the Goals: You can’t starve your social media program or it will whither.
- Integrate Your Social Media With Other Activities: Don’t do social media in isolation from your other marketing activites.
- Assess Your Results: You need to measure and adjust.
In order to use social media to support your business goals and to be efficient in the management of it, you need to have a social media strategy. Not a set of disconnected activities.
Beth Longware Duff is a professional editor and award-winning writer whose work on a wide variety of topics has been published in print and electronic media. She currently writes on a wide range of topics dealing with electronic payment processing and credit card processing for Merchant Express.