Bigger, Better, Faster, Stonger

It was widely reported earlier this year that social media marketing budgets will be increasing significantly over the next year – and dramatically over the next 5 years. I want to take a moment in this blog post to explore just what kind of resources a business should allocate to their social media marketing campaigns.

First, let me clear up some terminology. When I refer to social media marketing throughout this post, I mean all interactions on the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, FourSquare, Instagram, etc.) and I also mean all blogging activity – either company created posts or interactions through communities like WordPress and Blogger. I do not mean RSS feeds, newsletters, website design, or online advertisements like Google Adwords – although there is definite overlap and connectivity between these groups. There may also be no way to separate these 2 groups perfectly in the real world, as content is fluidly passed across and dependent on different channels.

In an article released in January, Forbes noted that the top 468 marketers plan to spend 137% of last year’s budget on social media marketing this year. In the next 5 years, they expect that number to jump to 250% of last year’s budget. Last year’s budget (as an aggregate for these companies) was 8.4% of their overall marketing budget. Interesting findings.

The fact that the top marketing minds expect over 1/5 of their budget to be spent on social media marketing tells you the huge importance they see it playing for their futures. After all, there are only so many marketing dollars to go around.

What Does This Mean for Local Business?

While I find all of this fascinating, I’m wondering what this means for small businesses? Local marketing? The top 468 marketers on Forbes list probably have a much different budget for and expectation of their marketing plan than does the yoga studio that I visit in Cool Springs, or the boutique where my wife shops in downtown Franklin.

For small businesses, the trend to market online is the same, but the budget increase has not yet happened like it has for the big companies.

This Yahoo News article states that many small businesses are seeing positive results from social media marketing. However, social media marketing takes resources, either time or money. Almost 45% of small business owners spend at least an hour per week on it, and 11% spend 10 hours per week or more. These numbers are expected to rise over the next 5 years, as will budgets for outsourcing.

As the social marketplace becomes more competitive, expertise develops and consumers become more expectant, many local businesses have to get involved or get left behind. Anecdotally, I see almost all of my favorite local brands online – on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and even Google+. Some have great blogs that keep me up on what they’re doing and what’s coming up next. I’ve also noticed a real community starting to build as these businesses connect and support each other’s efforts. That’s what makes all of this exciting for us at cSocially: how the stories intertwine and enhance our connection and life.

The Bottom Line, No Panacea

As to what budget a small business needs to allocate for social media marketing, I’ve found no clear answer that can act as a blanket statement. Local businesses have real niches, authentic spirits that often can’t be compartmentalized easily. This is the beauty and challenge of it all.

It’s safe to say that my favorite yoga studio allocates significant resources to their social media. Whether it’s time or money they’re spending, I’m not sure, but they stay connected and spread their yogic message to loyal followers throughout the week across various social sites. My guess would be that their social media budget is well over 8.4% of their overall marketing budget.

Time = Money

The boutique shop on the other hand is only sparsely represented online but advertises regularly on local radio and at local events. This leads me to believe that they have not invested much time or money into social media marketing and would fall under the 8.4% mark. Should they invest more? Only if they can get value out of it – and that can only be determined by understanding their goals, their customer base, and their story.

It’s easy to see why there’s no one-size-fits all with social media marketing for local businesses. As more studies are released, I’ll be scouring the stats to find any helpful nuggets I can pass along.

In the meantime, I’d love to know what your business is doing with social media marketing and if you feel it has any impact. And if I’ve missed something or if you just enjoyed the post (especially if you enjoyed the post), let me know about it. Email me or call us 615-208-5373.

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