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Social Setback: With ROI Falling Short, Small Biz Owners Are Getting Lukewarm About Investing in Social Media

Manta Survey Shows SMBs Think Facebook Returns the Most Value

A new survey from small business consultants Manta reveals more than half of small business owners (59 percent) don’t see a return on investment from their social media efforts. The usual lineup of social networks—with Facebook at the forefront—are actively courting small businesses for advertising revenue, but the study results clearly suggest that social networks need to communicate real value to small business owners.

"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, in a news release. "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."

Facebook Stays No. 1 While Twitter and Others Lag Behind
The study finds that Facebook is the top choice for small business owners, validating Facebook’s recent announcement that the majority of their advertising revenue comes from small businesses. Benchmarked against Manta’s 2013 social media survey, 53 percent of respondents ranked the social giant as returning the most value to their business, up from 29 percent in 2013.

However, the value of other leading social networks for small businesses dropped significantly. Google+ comes in second with 15 percent, followed by LinkedIn (11 percent), while Twitter and Pinterest trail behind at five and two percent respectively.

Nearly half (47 percent) of small businesses that see ROI on social media report receiving less than $100 each month, so it makes sense that nearly half (49 percent) of small business owners are unwilling to spend money on social media promotion.

New Customer Goldmine or Virtual Rip-off?
When it comes to managing social media accounts, the percentage of small business owners with plans to increase time spent on social media has slowed to 34 percent, compared with 49 percent in 2013.

Still, small business owners continue setting social media goals. New customer acquisition hits the top of the list (37 percent), followed by driving awareness of or marketing for their business (17 percent) and generating leads or referrals (15 percent). While small business owners are clear on what they want out of their investment in social media activities, it’s not always easy to decipher how to accomplish their goals.

With this perspective in mind, Manta offers a few tips to help small business owners get the most out of social media for their business:

  • 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.

Source: MarketWired; edited by Richard Carufel

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