2016 prediction: Businesses begin to abandon social networking

Sixty-two percent of small business owners in one country think Facebook is a total 'waste of time,' a survey finds.

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Did that headline get your attention? Well, it's not clickbait. Believe it or not, the majority of small businesses in one country think that social media activity may be a massive time-waster.

Many think their social media participation is having no effect on sales.

'Waste of time'

Many entrepreneurs think Facebook doesn't help sales at all, and is a "waste of time."

"Almost two-thirds said there was no evidence their social media strategy was having a positive effect" on sales, writes the Telegraph newspaper in October, about a survey of businesses' opinions about social networks.


The study found that only 38% of the 1,000 small businesses polled in the UK-only survey thought they were gaining benefit from participating in social networks, the Telegraph reports.

The survey was conducted by Deal With The Media, a London-based advisor and trainer that prepares brands on how to work with the media.

Traditional media

Now, before you say anything, obviously it's in a media consultant's interest to be a proponent of traditional media, such as broadcast TV, rather than encouraging self-made, home-brew publicity through social networks.

But there's no getting around it, the numbers are there. Many businesses think they aren't having success with social networks.

How much waste?

Small business owners spent "between six and ten hours a week marketing their companies on social media," the newspaper reported about the survey.

The respondents overwhelmingly said "they were uncertain, disagreed or strongly disagreed that social media had been effective for their business," the Telegraph says.


The newspaper reports some interesting quotes that re-inforce the opinion.

One, a greetings-cards company owner, is quoted as saying that "I used to spend a long time creating exciting, eye-catching posts for daily reach. But while people may like a picture, it will not translate in a sale or even a click to my website," she said.

Another is quoted as saying "social media posting translated to 'hardly any new business.'"


Now, why the poor results? Is it all over for social media? Well, the answer is that the companies are probably doing social marketing wrong.

We know that social media is more personal than broadcast media, print, or email campaigns. In other words, you can't just pump it out automatically and hope for a conversion rate. One needs to approach each message individually.

"It is an utter waste of time if there is no real personal interaction behind a post," Andries, a commenter on the Telegraph story, says.

It's social media

"The name says it all, social media. And most users can quickly spot the difference between content and some marketing stunt," Andries adds.

You can't treat it like traditional ad buys.

"Many small business owners use Facebook the same way they would use a traditional ad. It's push, push, push my product or service. That doesn't work online," says Telegraph commenter Alice Fuller.

Fuller says businesses need to research customers habits. She says testing isn't approached properly, if at all. And, overall, they don't spend enough money to get "reach," she concludes.

Others agree.

"Many businesses see social media as an online billboard," commenter Thomo97 says. "Slap up an image or message and it will translate in to sales. That's not going to work."

Think of it more as a "customer service platform and somewhere to build engagement and loyalty," Thomo97 says.

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