Survey: SMB’s Wasting Their Time With Social Media

Ouch.  The digital fanatics’ aren’t going to like this one:  As reported in the USA TodayMost small businesses feel like they are wasting their time on social media, according to a new survey.

The survey indicated that about 61% of small businesses don’t see any return on investment on their social-media activities, according to a survey released from Manta, a social network for small businesses. Yet, the big disconnect is that almost 50% of those SMB’s say they’ve increased their time spent on social media.  What’s going on?

In reality, many small businesses just don’t have a true place they fit in yet when it comes to social media.  Most SMB’s will jump in because of peer pressure, or media pressure, or the perception that their business will be left behind even if they have no clue what they’re trying to get out of a social-media campaign. The quote of the day in the article is from Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing:

“Just thinking that Facebook alone will send droves of customers to your doorstep is a mistake a lot of people make”

Why are SMB’s getting into social media anyway?  The study indicates that:

  • 36% said their goal was to acquire and engage new customers,
  • 19% said to gain leads and referrals,
  • 17% said to boost awareness.

And I’m willing to bet that 90+% of them think it’s cheaper than traditional media like print Yellow Pages.  And it may be at the onset.  But isn’t it usually true that you get what you pay for?

Take this one SMB quoted in the article:

“…Regina Hartt, owner of Hartt’s Pool Plastering in Turlock, Calif., says social media hasn’t helped her business because there are too many disreputable companies in the construction business, and no amount of “Likes” on Facebook is going to sway a prospective customer to spend $5,000 to $40,000 on a pool-plastering job. Hartt created a Facebook page for her business over a year ago, but she says out of the 200 to 300 jobs she does a year only three or four come from people who have found the business online…”

How many jobs do think this pool company could get from a print and online Yellow Pages ad program over the course of a year?  I would be willing to bet it far exceeds what they are getting from Facebook.

Perhaps the industry can help SMB’s through this dilemma.  Aren’t we the people who do the “fact finding” on each and every call to help identify where a business stands?   And aren’t we the industry that has simple, one stop solutions in print, online, and mobile?

Folks, we just need to show them the “power of yellow…”

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3 responses to “Survey: SMB’s Wasting Their Time With Social Media

  1. Hey Ken! I think that social media can be a great strategy for small businesses, but often the benefits outweigh the costs, and in this case, the cost is the time expenditure.

    Not to say that small businesses shouldn’t have a social media presence, but maybe their expectations just need to be more in line with what will likely happen.

    Either way, more power to those who can offer a better solution to the SMBs!

    • Would agree with you. If someone can provide that SMB with an efficient, high quality, cost effective process to get into and manage a social media program for them, more SMB’s would have success.

  2. Ken, this is a great post.
    There remains a disproportionate amount of hype surrounding social.
    The key here is that social is not always properly positioned within the broad media mix that an SMB has to consider within today’s fragmented environment. It is therefore incumbent on the local media salesperson to ensure that the SMB ad budget is attributed proportionately in terms of where it will derive the most value.
    Your comment about the need for cost-effective social media management solutions for SMBs is also very true.

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