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Even though small business owners have had to stretch their budgets during the past few years, they have found room to invest in social media.
New research from Manta has found that 49 percent of small business owners say they have increased the amount they spent on social media in the past year. Overall, 26 percent of the small business owners surveyed said they are investing more in social media, advertising and marketing in the first quarter of this year. More than one in three small business owners said they spend between one and three hours per week managing social channels, and 10 percent of business owners said they spend at least 10 hours per week on the platforms.
Business owners recently have increased their investments in social media because they have been able to realize a return on investment from the platforms. Researchers found that 39 percent of small business owners have realized a return on investment from their social media efforts, and 30 percent said they made more than a $2,000 return from social media.
As small business owners turn to social media, they are looking at a number of sources for help. Overall, 36 percent of small business owners said they look to online resources for help on social media, while 18 percent said they ask third-party experts for help on social media. Business owners say Facebook is the hardest platform to maintain, followed by LinkedIn and Twitter.
"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, which conducted the research. "However, social media is not a stationary phenomenon. As small and medium-sized businesses shift from the experimental stage to a results-focused phase, their social media usage will evolve to maximize the value."
Those increased investments in social media signal a bigger trend among small business owners. A majority of small business owners said they are optimistic about their business outlook in the coming months. Despite that optimism, just 5 percent of small business owners plan to hire new staff this spring.
The research was based on responses from 1,123 small business owners who are members of Manta.com, as a part of the Manta 2013 first-quarter small business wellness index.