As SMBs Struggle with Social Media ROI, Manta Expands Its Role

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Increased investment, a bullseye on customer acquisition, yet unconvincing results. These are the core themes emerging from Manta’s recently-released Q1 SMB Wellness Index, a survey of small business owners focused on social media. They are the very themes called out in BIA/Kelsey’s LCM 16 SMB research. SMBs continue to pour more time and energy into social media activity; they do so to capture new business; their ROI is spotty.

A few highlights from the Wellness Index:

– Nearly 50 percent of SMBs have increased time spent in social media. Only seven percent scaled back. That said, three-quarters of SMBs dedicate fewer than five people to managing social media activities. 53 percent deploy just one.

– SMBs’  investment in social media has two clear (and related) objectives: customer acquisition (36 percent)  and lead generation (19 percent).

– Even with increased investment and clearly-stated goals (albeit perhaps not necessarily the right ones?), SMBs social ROI assessments remain murky, with 61 percent giving the thumbs-down. And Facebook is the hardest to maintain, even as the largest and most widely-used network.

The upshot? SMBs need a clearer path to understanding, engagement and success…perhaps more than ever. As they invest more while still coming up short on ROI, we’re left to ask the “social media insanity” question: are business owners doing the same things they’ve always done, perhaps in greater proportion, while expecting different results?

Something’s gotta give, and change. That’s precisely where Manta sees its role moving forward – not merely as a discovery engine or content forum for small businesses, but as CEO Pam Springer put it, a full-fledged “social hub.” This entails helping SMBs create a following by suggesting who to connect with and how to engage, syndicating content throughout Manta’s network and across the full social spectrum, and building a “feedback loop for them around all social activity” that can produce clearer ROI attribution.

Of the many possible causes of poor social media ROI, Springer spotlighted the attribution problem. No, SMBs don’t create content very easily – and that must come first – but when they do, “how does that impact a customer? Connecting the dots around lead generation is fuzzy.”

Expect Manta to take a more active role in the full spectrum of SMB social activity moving forward, including deep data mining to suggest engagement strategies, syndicated publishing and a more robust content experience within its network to foster social discovery and ROI.

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