Why Small Businesses Are Losing On Social Media

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I found a great article from Meghan Casserly on Forbes and thought I’d share some of it here.

A new report from online business community Manta shows that, desperate to increase sales numbers in 2013, American small business owners are turning up on the social web in droves. The trouble is, no matter how much time they spend, they’re simply not seeing a return on investment.

Social media use is trending upward according to the survey of more than 1,235 small business owners, no surprise given the attention paid to the various social platforms by big businesses and media outlets. Nearly 50% have increased time spent on social media this year and nearly 55% say they’re using platforms like Twitter and Facebookas a primary tool for either acquiring new customers of generating sales leads.

It all sounds promising until this head-scratching result: despite their dedication and belief that social media is the Hail Mary of small business owners everywhere, more than 60% of small business owners say they haven’t seen any return on investment from their engagement online. None.

First up, if an expert or strategist tries to sell you on the notion that setting up a Facebook page or Twitter handle (or even a LinkedIn company page) will open the floodgates to an Internet’s worth of sales leads, they’re selling you some bad medicine. Jumping online to check in on Facebook once a day or posting current sales deals isn’t going to bring the business in. It just isn’t.

Instead, the only real way to use social to bring in new sales is to dedicate a staffer to spend some serious time online just listening. Filters and using social as a search tool can help, but the most critical factor here is time. According to Manta’s survey, despite the increase in time from 2012-2013, more than half of small business owners spend less than three hours a week online.

It’s frustrating, of course, this notion that you can’t simply set something up and watch the sales stream in—which explains the disappointment of the majority of business owners surveyed who say they aren’t experiencing a return on their investment in social.

According to this survey from Manta, small business owners are eager to embrace social media, but they’re going about it all wrong—and it’s creating real discontent. With a few subtle shifts in priorities and an adoption of the long-view, small business owners can put themselves back on the path towards success.. and SALES.

Full article with some additional great quotes from Social Guru Ted Rubin here.

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