Small Biz Owners Spending More Time on Social, Even as Most Don’t See ROI

April 18, 2013

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Manta-Small-Biz-Social-Media-Activity-Apr2013It’s becoming a familiar refrain: social media marketing is a priority and gets increasing investment, even as concerns over ROI persist. A new survey from Manta of its membership indicates that this same pattern exists among small business owners: 81% say they’re spending more (49%) or the same amount (32%) of time on social media compared to a year ago. But, asked if they see a return from their company’s social media activities, 61% responded “no,” as opposed to 39% saying “yes.”

While the study does break down the ROI amounts among those who replied “yes” (a plurality 40% saying between $100-$1,000) those figures are so dependent on variables such as levels of investment and size of company that they’re fairly useless. A percentage figure would certainly have been more helpful.

In any case, looking further into the results, the study suggests that the most common goal of using social media is acquiring and engaging new customers (36%), followed by gaining lead generations/referrals (19%), and driving awareness/marketing for the business (17%).

Other Findings:

  • Respondents are more likely to turn to online resources (36%) and their personal circle (22%) than to 3rd-party experts (18%) when they have questions about social media for their business.
  • A slight majority of respondents have a single person dedicated to social media activities at their company, while 20% don’t have anyone dedicated to social.
  • 18% say Facebook is the hardest platform to maintain, with LinkedIn (10%), Twitter (9%) and Google+ (8%) following. Without any statistics on which platforms are most used, it’s hard to know whether or not these figures simply correlate with usage.
  • 31% of respondents said they will spend the majority of their Q2 business investment dollars on referral and engaging new customers, while another 26% said they’ll dedicate most of those dollars to online advertising, marketing, and social media. Since the primary goal of social media is new customer acquisition and engagement, differentiating those top 2 priorities is a bit of a stretch. Nevertheless, the results clearly show that online strategies are preferred to traditional advertising and marketing, which will be an investment priority for only 12%.

About the Data: The Manta SMB Wellness Index is based on nationwide data compiled from new business licenses, DBA/corporate filings at city, county, and state levels, and is verified with multiple sources including utility information. Manta polled 1,235 small business owners, who are members of and have claimed their Manta business profile, via an online Silverpop survey between March 26 and April 1, 2013. The margin of error is +/- 2.98 percentage points.

Editor’s note: the terms “SMB” and “small business” are used interchangeably in the study. This article refers to “small businesses” only for consistency.

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