Small businesses aren't so sure about social media
Nearly two-thirds of owners say their companies haven't seen any return from work-related online efforts like Facebook.
Is having a social media presence for your small business worth the effort? According to the results of a survey quoted in USA Today, perhaps not.
Manta.com, a social networking site for small businesses, reports 61% of those businesses haven't seen any return on their investment in social media activities. At the same time, however, half of those surveyed said they increased their time working on the social media side of their business, compared to a year ago. Just 7% said they had cut back on that time.
Keeping up a business' social media channels can be time-consuming. Another Manta study says more than one in three small-business owners spend up to three hours a week managing their social media, with 10% spending more than 10 hours.
There's also the danger of having social media used against your company. The owner of a popular small seafood restaurant in Florida told Business Insider a negative review his business received on the social networking site Yelp (YELP) hurt his business with potential customers.
"It's very scary as a restaurant owner because I'm sure people avoid coming here because of the rating," Ed Wells, the owner of Chowderheads, told the business news site. "The customers who do come in ask me about why the rating is so low."
"Just thinking that Facebook (FB) alone will send droves of customers to your doorstep is a mistake a lot of people make," Stephanie Schwab, CEO of Crackerjack Marketing, told USA Today.
Schwab said a lot of SMBs also set up social media accounts simply due to peer pressure and out of fear they might be losing out on potential clientele and marketing opportunities.
Manta notes that, despite a recovering economy, only about 5% of small-business owners plan to hire new staff this spring, but nearly 26% are investing in social media and other forms of online advertising and marketing.
"Small-business owners are strategically adopting platforms that show real results for their business," said Manta CEO Pamela Springer in a press release. "However, social media is not a stationary phenomenon. As SMBs shift from the experimental stage to a results-focused phase, their social media usage will evolve to maximize the value."
From our experience, Twitter, Facebook, etc... is just another way for clients to spread the word about your company, even if you don't have an official social media presence. You still need to have a great product or service, and no amount of advertising or social media is going to change that. Word of mouth is still the best advertising for small businesses, especially in it's natural form, as opposed to a contrived blurb on some social media platform.
More heat than light in my opinion. I don't want to hear about the latest gimmicks. The best advertisiing dollars that I ever spent were on Yellow Page advertising.
No, I wouldn't spend a dime on it now. I think one day, many of us will say the same thing about Social Media. Everytime I ask about my ROI, I get blank looks.
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