Local directory site Manta has come out with another of its regular SMB surveys, most of which I don’t write about because they tend to be focused on taxes, politics or hiring and are intended to attract mainstream news coverage. The most recent one however a couple of findings that struck me.
The survey asked, “Of the following, what is the main technology investment will you make in the next six months in an effort to help increase sales?
- Social media promotion/advertising – 31%
- Web upgrade (mobile optimized, online payments, etc.) – 17%
- Search marketing – 15%
- Create a website or other online presence – 14%
- Adopt mobile payments processing – 5%
- Other– 18%
As you can see, social media marketing was the top response. This confirms numerous previous surveys that indicate social is either the top SMB channel or one of very high interest. Anecdotal information continues to support this idea as well. Just this evening I heard about the demand for Facebook Pages among SMBs in Sri Lanka.
Manta also found that “access to a social media guru” was number three on its top 10 “holiday wish list” for these SMB survey respondents. Number one was a new computer and number two was free advertising space.
There continues to be huge interest in social media mixed with strong ambivalence about the time commitment and confusion about ROI. The Manta survey polled just over 1,200 of its members in October.
A year ago I wrote about the gap between SMB social media adoption and perceptions of effectiveness. The large majority of “serious” SMBs are on social media in some form. However only a minority see it as “most effective” vs. other channels.
For example, a 2013 survey from Vocus found that 77% of SMBs use social media in some form to market themselves. Yet the survey also discovered that social was deemed “most effective” by only 25% of respondents (and only 20% in the $1 million+ revenues category).
I attribute this gap to the SMBs’ lack of expertise in using social media. This likely explains why they want “access to a social media guru.” They know it has huge potential, they just don’t know how to use it effectively. (This story repeats itself across most of digital marketing for SMBs.)
Ultimately what I think will be bundled in third party Facebook marketing programs for SMBs are the following:
- Automation of Facebook Page creation (exists today)
- Partial or substantial automation of content creation (publication of reviews, images, etc.),
- The addition of booking and other transactional services to the Facebook Page (e.g., Camilyo)
- Automated provisioning of Facebook’s new Local Awareness Ads
In other words, this is what I think the Facebook package will probably become — all or most of the elements above. And I think the outsourced content creation (e.g., a post a month) will eventually be minimized or fall away entirely.