When we ask small business owners why they aren’t more active on social media they often tell us it is because they don’t have enough time. But how much time does it really take to manage an effective social media marketing program? That is the question we have been asking for the last few years as part of our small business survey.
We are still wrapping up the analysis of the 2014 study, but here is a preview of what we have learned so far.
The data shows the average small business is actually spending less time on social media then they did a few years ago. In 2010, 35 percent of the respondents in our survey said they were spending an hour or more each day. This year, less than 28 percent are taking the time to invest an hour or more out of their day in social media.
Why the decline?
In general, we see small business owners settling into a routine with their social media. They have moved past the feeling they need to be on every single platform. Instead, they are concentrating their efforts on fewer, more relevant platforms. At the same time, we have seen an explosion of productivity tools which allow savvy business owners to do more with less time invested.
Social media activity is not the same for companies which target consumers vs. those which target other businesses. Most, but not all consumer products and services fit more naturally within Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr communities. These companies are spending more time than their B2B counterparts.
Looking ahead to 2015 the tide may turn as LinkedIn gives B2B companies more reasons to get involved with expansion of the company profiles section of their platform. At the same time, Facebook seems to be losing ground with small businesses as they try to force more companies down the path of sponsored links.
The size of the company is another factor which seems to effect the amount of time spent daily on social media. In smaller firms, employees are much less likely to spend an hour or more a day on social media.
This makes sense when you consider the multiple hats employees in small firms are likely to wear. Only as companies grow do we see full-time marketing roles being created, increasing the average time spent on social media significantly.
One last data point surprised us. Although trends seem to be leaning toward less time, the perception among respondents is that they are spending the same or more time than they did a year ago.
Nothing in the data explains this perception and its discrepancy with the facts. We can only speculate that, after all of these years, the novelty has worn off. Social media monitoring is just another marketing task and the routine has become tedious.
What do you think? Are you spending more or less time on social media for your business than you did a year ago?
If you want to learn more about the results of the 2014 survey, you can download a copy now. Just fill out the form below.