78% of Local Brands Believe Social Media Essential – Only 1/3 Prioritize It

In a new study published by eMarketer states that brands believe websites, social media marketing and email are the most important digital marketing elements for effective local marketing. 78% stated that social media marketing is important or essential. Those statistics alone are quite dramatic, but if we spend some time looking into the data a bit deeper, some very revealing trends appear.

SMB Social Media ImportantThe biggest irony within the study shows that only 25% of those same respondents planned to prioritize social media marketing in their digital marketing efforts. Wait a second… 78% said it was important or essential, yet only 25% were going to prioritize it. That was astounding to read, wasn’t it?

The report goes further to explain that 80% of brands expected to maintain or increase their digital marketing spend for local marketing in the coming years.

The report does not get into the details of why the massive disparity between deeming social media marketing essential for local businesses and the lack of prioritizing it at a similar level. Being very experienced in local, national and international social media marketing, we thought we would outline some of the reasons we believe this may be the case.

Why aren’t local brands adding social media marketing as a priority, though they believe it’s essential?

1) Budget – Many of these same local brands are already tight financially. They’re often spending money on a lot of “old school” yellow page and direct mail marketing without tracking the results. Often the belief is that they need to continue doing those things or their situation will decline even more.

A thoughtful evaluation of these mediums, outdated email marketing efforts and other digital optimization requirements can show areas where costs can be reduced or eliminated and where funds can be reallocated to social media and an overall digital upgrade. In today’s world for most SMB’s, these are the things that begin to make a growth impact on their business.

2) Knowledge – If you are an SMB that realizes the importance of social media marketing, yet you don’t have the knowledge or experience to do it, that can paralyze you from taking any action, let alone making it a priority. You don’t have a strategy, plan to execute it even if you did have a strategy, or any base of knowledge that would enable you to do it effectively anyway.

Enter the consultant

3) “Consultants” – So you’re a small business owner that recognized you needed a presence on social media some time back while it was beginning to rise in the news, with users and then with big brands. You had no idea how to do it but a social media expert/consultant was doing a presentation at the local networking group meeting and you decided to pay the $100 to attend.

After listening to all the information they presented, you realized you still couldn’t do this alone and needed help, so you took the expert’s business card and called for an appointment. They pitch you on setting up your social media accounts, making a strategy, consulting and training so you could be really effective.

$800 and 6 months later you are overwhelmed, frustrated and feel like you had been mugged. You aren’t getting anywhere on real results, have spent time and money you don’t have to spare and the consultant is now offering additional training services they’d like you to invest in.

Sound familiar to anyone? I hear this every single day from unsuspecting business owners. It’s no wonder they are not making it a priority.

For a large percentage of small to medium local brands, these factors are a reality. They know their industry and business, not something new and ever-changing like social media marketing. They want and need to focus on what they know and don’t have the time, resources or ability to add another item to their plate. Most simply need a clearly defined reason as to why they need to make it a priority, coupled with a cost-effective solution that handles it for them with the least amount of time required on their part. They are willing to pay for professional help that will get results and enable them to focus on their business.

If you’re a business owner that fits into the statistics outlined in this report, I suggest that you find a social media professional that understands what is detailed here and will take the time to consult you through these points to discover cost reduction opportunities. They will also be able to propose a total social media management solution that gets results for you so you can focus on what you are good at.


16 thoughts on “78% of Local Brands Believe Social Media Essential – Only 1/3 Prioritize It

  1. As always you give it straight; it takes time, money, human resources and a sophistication in social media marketing much of which the small business owner does not readily have. The trick is finding that social media consultant or firm that will do more than guide you through the steps but actually perform and personalize not only the strategy but the digital set-up that won’t break the bank and that the business will be able to manage ongoing. A list like that I would like to see;)

    1. The problem is in the manage ongoing. MOST do not have the time, or ability to execute a plan. THAT is why this so rarely works, regardless of the guiding and strategy. MOST SMB’s need it done from A-Z. Everything you mention AND most importantly, the manage ongoing…

  2. I would hit the “LIke” button 100 times on this post, if I could. I’ve seen too many business sites on Facebook/Twitter and blogs where organizations have started to post and then abandoned them later. It makes their company/organization look bad, especially since that material lingers on the Web.

    I’m of the opinion that it’s not just a matter of knowing the social media tools and how to market with them, but it also helps to know at least the basics of SEO/SEM especially if you’re marketing to local customers.. From the business owners that I’ve met, I keep hearing “Oh, I’d like to get into social media and all that but I just don’t have the time.” My advice to them is usually “think about getting into it, it can really help to increase your business” and then quote successful cases where people have succeeded.

  3. You are SO right on here, and it bears out in my years of experience as well, working with SMBs, a Silicon Valley Web Startup, and listening in on conversations at the enterprise level as well.

    People are people, with varied skills and talents and expertise, so in this day and age, they need to trust that they can count on a Social Media Professional who will take care of their accounts and online reputations in a consistent and positive manner, with clear expectations managed from Day ONE.

    Thank you for your insights and advice here. It’s critical for any business model to get clear about their goals, and build a team that can take them into the next century, built on a solid foundation of relationships that pay off in the long run. Social Media Agency Professionals are an integral part of any business team, and it’s only the beginning.

    Stay away from hacks and so-called Social Media Consultants who are cut-rate. Trust your instincts, business owners. There are many wonderful professionals in our field, ready to be of service to you and your dreams.

  4. Great post; thanks for sharing.

    This is why a goal-oriented social media audit with actionable recommendations and coaching on implementation is so valuable. Investing in a thorough assessment of the existing plan, a strategy to leverage the most relevant channels, and an understanding of analytics to measure ROI pays off.

    Yes, it costs more than $800, but as Erik Qualman says, “The ROI of social media is being in business in five years.” Like it or not, the world of marketing has changed. And for most, it’s far better—and ultimately, less expensive—to develop internal capacity (i.e., “Teach a man/woman to fish…”)

    1. Though we agree on the audit and strategy approach, we disagree on how best to execute it Eugenie and that it is less expensive in-house. If you want/need to learn to fish, that makes sense, most are way better off paying a fisherman/woman to fish, so they can focus on what they know/do best. In our humble opinion and experience anyway.

      Thanx for jumping in!

      1. Thanks for responding, Robert. In my experience, it’s as much a question of quality as cost, and I believe bringing social media in-house is an important step on the inevitable path of becoming a social biz,. Which doesn’t mean outsourcing can’t work for some—and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all solution. And, FWIW, I’m okay agreeing to disagree. :) Thanks, again. Glad to have found your blog.

      2. oh absolutely! It’s ok to have a difference of opinion. It takes a very unique SMB with the budget and commitment to do it with real results in house. Very few have both…

        Do what you’re best at and hire out the rest is a very cost effective and more often than not best business practice in a lot of circumstances.

        So glad you found us too!

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