Facebook, Twitter Lead Small-Business Social Media Focus

Small businesses continue to adopt social media platforms and are finding value in paying for tools that can boost their performance.

Small businesses are increasingly adopting social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to boost their business, but struggle to devote adequate time and resources to their efforts, resulting in more companies paying for social media tools, according to an online survey of 462 businesses (93 percent with less than 100 employees), conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 5 by VerticalResponse, a provider of self-service marketing solutions for small businesses.

Finding content is the most time-consuming piece of social media usage, according to survey results, and budgets for social media are growing faster than overall marketing budgets. Only 6 percent of respondents noted a decrease in social media budgets, while 22 percent said their social media budgets had risen in the past year. Additionally, 36 percent of those surveyed pay for social media publishing and analytics tools. Of those, 58 percent spend $26 or more every month for the tools.

Social media juggernaut Facebook leads the pack, with 90 percent of small businesses surveyed employing the site. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said they use microblogging site Twitter, while only 32 percent are on Google+ and 29 percent are on Pinterest.

Those who do use social media sites post frequently, with approximately one-third of respondents publishing to their social networks every day, while 32 percent said they post to Facebook at least once per day and 29 percent post on Twitter at least once per day.

"Our survey confirms that small businesses are understanding the value of social media," VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick said in a statement. "They're spending more time doing it, and investing more money into it at a faster rate. But the extra work will likely lead to time-management issues, especially for the small-business owner who's handling social media on top of all the other responsibilities of running a company. This implies that small businesses are in need of tactics and tools now to help them save time."

Overall, 66 percent of businesses surveyed report spending more time on social media than they did a year ago, while 43 percent of respondents spend six or more hours per week on social media activities for their business. A quarter said they spend six to 10 hours per week, and 18 percent said they spend 11 or more hours per week. More than half (55 percent) of businesses said they have a blog, with 43 percent posting at least one entry per week. Forty-five percent said they spend one to three hours to create one post, while 16 percent spend more than three hours.