San-Francisco based marketing firm, surveyed 462 small businesses on how much time they spend on social media activities, including finding and sharing content on popular social networks and blogging, and what tasks take the most time. VerticalResponse also inquired about marketing budgets.
The survey results suggest the following four conclusions:
1. Small businesses are spending more time on social media, but many are struggling with the added workload.
Sixty-six percent (or two-thirds) reported spending more time on social media than they did a year ago. Forty-three percent of respondents spend six or more hours per week on social media activities for their business. (Twenty-five percent spend six to 10 hours per week, and 18 percent spend 11 or more hours per week.)
Among respondents who are CEOs/owners/proprietors of their own companies, approximately one-third said they’d rather spend less time on social media, suggesting they preferred focusing their time on other activities to grow their business. Thirty-seven percent spend six or more hours per week on social media for their companies.
2. Small businesses are focusing on Facebook and Twitter, while adoption of Pinterest and Google+ remains slow.
Facebook is still king, with 90 percent of small businesses surveyed active on the social network. Nearly 70 percent are on Twitter, while half (50 percent) are on LinkedIn. In comparison, only 32 percent are on Google+ and 29 percent are on Pinterest.
Approximately one-third of respondents are publishing to their social networks every day: Thirty-two percent post to Facebook at least once per day, while 29 percent tweet on Twitter at least once per day.
3. Small businesses are realizing the value of content – but, again, time is an issue.
More than half (55 percent) of small businesses surveyed have a blog. Of those, 43 percent publish a blog post at least once a week. Nearly half (45 percent) spend one to three hours to create one post, while 16 percent spend more than three hours.
So, nearly half of those who blog spend up to three hours per blog post on at least a weekly basis – time that, prior to having a blog, would have been used on other business activities. This suggests that small businesses are recognizing the increasing importance of generating content for social media, over other business activities.
However, while they’re realizing content is valuable, time is still an issue. Respondents reported that finding and posting content to their social networks are the most time-consuming, followed by: learning and education; analyzing their social media efforts; and following their competitors’ activities. Answering questions posted on social media is the least time-consuming.
4. Small businesses are finding value in paying for social media.
The survey data show social media budgets are increasing at a faster rate than overall marketing budgets.
More than 22 percent reported an increase in their social media budget compared to a year ago, while only 6 percent reported a decrease. So, there are nearly four times the number of small businesses that have increased their social media budget, versus those that have decreased.
In comparison, there are only two times the number of respondents that have increased their overall marketing budget versus those who decreased: 29 percent reported an increase in their overall marketing budget compared to a year ago, while 17 percent reported a decrease. This suggests that 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 social media publishing and analytics tool(s); of those, 58 percent spend $26 or more every month for the tool(s). This suggests that small businesses are starting to put a real value on social media for growth.
Methodology: Results are based on an online survey of 462 businesses (93 percent with less than 100 employees). The survey was conducted between Sept. 17, 2012, and Oct. 5, 2012. Approximately 43 percent of respondents were CEOs/owners/proprietors of their companies.