Print Friendly, PDF & Email



Vertical Response created an absolutely killer infographic, which examines time spent on social media by small businesses. Then, their CEO Janine Popick followed with a wonderful article published on Inc. com, “Where CEOs Spend Their Time (& Money) on Social Media,” which made the rounds big time.

So I come not to criticize. Not to plagiarize. And really, not even to prophesies.  I’m not a social media expert (is anyone?), so much as an advocate, user, observer, reviewer, hole-pointer-outer, and occasionally, consultant. However, the spirit of social media is to exchange ideas, connect, and of course, converse. I want in.

This is an opinion piece.

I tend to have a lot of opinions. I like to tell my clients you don’t have to agree with them, but you do have to hear them. I’ll follow the structure of Janine’s  article (she’s “JP”), edit a bit out, chime in as “BF,” and cite another source—the author of the NY Times bestseller Likeable Social Media, Dave Kerpen.

This is going to be fun (for me, anyway). Please feel free to opine too.

JP: (Article subtitle)  A new survey shows that more small business owners are not only using social media but they are willing to pay for help.

BF: This is good. Businesses owners shouldn’t do everything themselves. However, social media is a voice of your brand, so proceed with caution. I’m not saying don’t outsource. I’m saying don’t neglect this stuff.

JP: As a marketer turned technology CEO, I’m more convinced than ever before that small businesses need to leverage the power of social media to grow their business. But they need to do it in a smart, efficient way. So are they? We asked 462 small businesses how much time and money they invest into social media, and announced the results this week.

BF: Cool. 

JP: According to the survey results, small businesses are…
Investing More Time Into Social Media Marketing

JP: Two-thirds said they’re spending more time than last year. That’s great, because it says they’re seeing enough ROI to keep doing it.

BF: I hope that’s true, but is it possible they are just faithful to the cause?

JP: A third of them said they’d rather spend less time, suggesting they preferred focusing their time on other activities to grow their business. It sounds to me that they could use some strategies and tools to help them recoup some of that time.

BF:  Agreed, but I must add: it sounds to me they need to treat social media as a seriously important activity to grow their business. 

social media infographic

Focusing on Facebook and Twitter

JP: Approximately 90 percent of the folks we surveyed are active on Facebook and 70 percent on Twitter. Only 32 percent are on Google+ and 29 percent are on Pinterest. (LinkedIn straddles the middle, at 50 percent.)

BF: 50% active on LinkedIn? What!? Get active on LinkedIn people. It’s a business network. 

social media infographic

BF: Ahem. I don’t think Facebook is king. I think it’s the Premier, of China, if you will. It has the biggest population, but not the marketing firepower of a real super power. 

Seeing the Value of Sharing Content–But, Again, Time is an Issue

JP: We also asked small businesses to rank what types of social media activities took the most time. They said finding and posting content to their social networks was the most time-consuming, followed by: learning and education; analyzing their social media efforts; and following their competitors’ activities. (Janice went on to suggest time-saving tools such as RSS feeds and  VerticalResponse Social to snag useful content.)

BF: Nobody asked me, but if finding content is your biggest time-consumer, you’re consuming time wrecklessly, a.k.a “wasting” time. Creating content should be where you “spend” time if you want to see your investment payoff.

social media infographic

Finding Value in Paying for Social Media

JP: Small businesses reported that their social media budgets are increasing at a faster rate than overall marketing budgets. So, if a small business is going to increase its budget, it will likely be for social media. Additionally, 36 percent of those surveyed pay for a social media publishing or analytics tool; of those, 58 percent spend $26 or more every month for the tool. Small businesses are starting to put a real value on social media for growth. Good for them.

BF: Amen. 

Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Media and author of the NY Times bestseller Likeable Social Media weighs in here, from another great article/conversation, “Social Media Marketing: Why It’s Not Paying Off,” by contributor Jeff Haden.

You gauge return by increased leads, online and offline traffic, share of online voice, and ultimately, sales. Social media marketing done right, everyday, is helping small businesses enhance their reputation, increase customer loyalty and frequency, and yes, put more bread on the table.

social media infographic

JP: So what does this all tell me? It reminds me of the saying, “time is money.” Being able to balance it all is still a bit of a challenge for some small businesses, especially the owner or solopreneur who’s handling social media on top of all the other responsibilities of running a company. But small businesses definitely see that social media is a big opportunity to drive growth–and they’re invested.

Time suck?

BF: It’s probably fair to say if you dispel social media as a time suck, you probably suck at it. Dave? 

Part of the problem is that you’re still thinking of social media marketing and community building as a quick campaign, like three weeks of traditional advertising or a day of cold calling. Too many small businesses that try social media marketing either don’t do it right or don’t do it long enough, or both, and then give up, thinking it doesn’t work.

You can absolutely use social media to drive and track new leads and sales, increased frequency of purchase from current customers, both very hard business metrics, but don’t expect this to happen overnight, or over three weeks. Expect to see (and by all means track!) results within six to nine months. Yes, it’s risky for a small business to put in that much time and/or money without a guarantee of a return. But that’s how social media marketing works. {Dave Kerpen}

(Check out the full social media infographic, which has even more interesting data.)

BF: One of those data points reveals 55% of small businesses have a blog. Provided they use the blog as a strategic weapon in their content marketing arsenal, those businesses are going to generate more traffic, leads and sales. The other 45% will simply follow, figuratively—and literally.