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.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 26, 2013 7:22AM

Young Woman Florist Small Business Flower Shop Owner, Checkout Counter -- YinYang, the Agency Collection, Getty ImagesIs 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., 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."

Owning a small business requires a deft touch -- especially when it comes to financial choices and the way work time is used. Observers say many SMBs (small and midsize businesses, in the industry’s jargon) misallocate their time by prioritizing their social media services in favor of more tried-and-true methods, including having a comprehensive website for the business.

"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."

More on moneyNOW

Apr 26, 2013 9:26AM
Nurturing a social media presence is just like any other advertising.  In this case, it might be technically free, but it's really not if it takes up a bunch of your time.

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.

Apr 29, 2013 7:18AM
Totally depends on the type of business.  daaaa
Apr 28, 2013 10:39AM
Good points. As a SB myself, I cant believe how many people ignore the basics of a one click access to a phone number and or an address on their website- basics first, then improve! 
Apr 27, 2013 8:32AM
Soical media is just another form of communication unfortunately not everyone you are connected with is searching for you products at that given time, I only look for things too buy if I need them, genrally looking for a good restaurant on a Friday night fits the bill for social media.... kinda like calling your mom or a close friend too ask.   If I need a new TV or a CD Player I will search for the best price...  The best you can hope for is just getting your name on there on the grapevine......and that generally works the best!
Apr 27, 2013 4:00PM

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.

Apr 27, 2013 12:08PM
Business of any kind gets no help from me via Social Media because I don't participate with any of them...  FB, Twitter, etc; is a waste of peoples time...  I really get tired of everywhere I surf they want me to "LIKE THEM" on FB... Also many companies if they are running a sweepstakes, which I do like and enjoy require me to participate via FB, NO WAY...!! I have belonged to a Forum of Peers for 12 years and I enjoy it immensely...  Yes I tried Social Media for just a little bit and seen right away that it was not for me...  We have Good Effective E-mail Systems and we don't need Social Media Sites to look at all the Garbage on them...!!
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