According to Manta.com, a social networking site for small businesses, one-in-three small business owners spend three hours managing their social media accounts every week. 10% spend as much as 10 hours per week -- a healthy bit of time.
But is it worth it?
Because of the time commitment it requires, many business owners don't want to engage in social media, but do so anyway simply because everybody else does. The popular contention being that if your business doesn't have a Facebook and Google+ page, you'll miss out on lucrative marketing opportunities and hoards of potential clientele.
It's a contention that happens to be true. Here's why:
1. Google Will Love You
Your Google+ engagement will impact your search rank on Google.
Any +1s (the Google equivalent of a Facebook "Like") your business content receives on Google+ will have a direct impact on you organic search engine rankings. The ability to tie search and social together is, for the most part, unique to Google -- an advantage that has established Google+ as a place for companies and their customers to interact.
2. ...So Will Your Budget
If you want more exposure for your business, but aren't willing (or able) to increase your marketing budget, social media is your best available option.
It's free. And, according to at least Facebook, "always will be."
The tradeoff, as Manta.com points out, is time. If you want to be successful, you need to devote some energy to understanding the tremendous tools social platforms are offering. However, once most business owners realize the potential of social media, it becomes a permanent part of their overall marketing strategy.
3. It's Marketing, the Smart Way
Instead of casting a huge marketing net via traditional sources (e.g., radio, newspaper, television, direct mail), use great content (e.g., blog posts, infographics, ebooks) to target quality prospects that are specifically interested in your product or service. Thus, rather than blasting out a general, expensive message to a large and diverse group of people, your business can use social networks to target individuals who definitely want to buy what you're selling.
Finding those individuals is easier than ever, too.
People identify themselves and their needs on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter by what they post online. Social media-savvy business owners can use this to their advantage, especially with new tools like Graph Search.
4. It's the Fastest Way to Build a Great Reputation
Nowadays, one out of every two business connections you make will search for your company online. When doing so, they'll most likely search a combination of your name and company name -- a unique aggregate that will (in most cases) yield a high ranking on search engines. From there, people will inevitably land on your business website or social media page.
Your website is where people will go to find out more about your company -- essentially, what you do. Your social media page, however, is where people will go to find out more about how you do it --and more specifically, how you did it for other customers.
Consumers love talking about their experiences on social platforms -- especially on sites like Twitter and Yelp. As long as you're a successful business with a dedicated customer base, this is a fantastic way to instantly relay your credibility and build your brand. And even if the feedback is negative, potential customers will still view you as a reputable business if you acknowledge the complaint and offer a solution online.