Some small businesses show returns on social media investment

Showing how advertising and marketing dollars translate directly to revenues is a challenge for any business, so it’s no surprise that 60 percent of small business owners reported in a recent survey that they cannot prove a return on investment from their social media efforts. What is notable is that nearly 40 percent say they can, and of those, nearly a third reported returns of $2,000 or more.

The small business community Manta, which conducted the online survey of more than 1,200 small business owners during the last week of March, reports that “with the potential to generate a compelling return on investment, social media involvement is trending upward in the small business community.”

More than one-third of business owners surveyed indicated that their primary goal in using social media is to acquire and engage with new customers, and most dedicate just one employee to the effort.

Still, asked where they would spend the majority of their business dollars in Q2 2013, more than a quarter of small business owners said social media, online advertising, and marketing—only 12 percent intend to put most of their money into traditional advertising.

Since last year, nearly half of those surveyed have increased the amount of time they spend on social media, yet only 3 percent have increased their social media budget. Eleven percent of small business owners spend more than 10 hours per week managing their social media channels. About one-third dedicate between one and three hours per week.

Asked which platforms are the most difficult for their business to maintain, owners named Facebook, followed by Linked In, Twitter, Google +, and Manta.

"As a highly pragmatic and time-constrained group, small business owners are strategically adopting platforms that show real results for their business," said Pamela Springer, CEO of Manta. "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."

Manta also reports that small business owners are taking an independent approach to solving their social media challenges: Only 18 percent seek help from third-party experts, but twice that number turn to online resources.

For full survey results, see the Manta Q1 2013 SMB Wellness Index or visit Manta online at