Small Biz Owners Want, But Can't Afford, Social Media Help

Small business owners would like help managing their social media marketing, but many simply can’t afford it, according to a new survey of 1,305 small business owners conducted by Constant Contact in June 2013. That means when it comes to their marketing priorities, social media loses out to older, more established local advertising platforms like radio and TV.

Overall 19% of the small business owners surveyed by Constant Contact said they would like to be able to outsource social media, but only 3% are actually able to do so. That compares to 40% who outsource TV and radio ads, out of 51% who would like to do so; 35% who outsource search engine optimization, out of 50% who would like to; 23% who outsource online banner ads, out of 34% who would like to; 22% who outsource their Web site management, out of 31% who would like to; and 20% who outsource local print advertising, out of 32% who would like to.

In other words, the biggest disparities are seen in the proportions of small business owners who would like to outsource social media and SEO, versus those who actually do so (16% and 15%, respectively).  Among those who would like to outsource social media but don’t, the largest segment -- 36% -- said they can’t afford it, while 12% said they don’t have the internal bandwidth, and 6% said they can’t find effective external resources.

A previous Constant Contact survey found that 80% of small business owners are using social media marketing, but more than half said it’s the marketing activity they need the most help with, according to Chris Litster, Constant Contact’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

The economics of outsourcing depend, in part, on how much a small business owner’s own labor is worth. Asked to calculate the value of an hour of their own labor, small business owners returned an average figure of $273 (that’s money spent, not money earned).

8 comments about "Small Biz Owners Want, But Can't Afford, Social Media Help".
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  1. Brandon Rost from BE Marketing, September 19, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.

    BE Marketing provides a turnkey solution to small business owners in managing their social media marketing presence starting at $100 a month. We would love to assist any small business needing assistance and built our pricing specific for small business budgets!

  2. Kevin Planovsky from Vert, September 19, 2013 at 4:08 p.m.

    TRADE Services/Products!

  3. greg strauss from rivertown multimedia, September 19, 2013 at 4:22 p.m.

    But we've been hearing from SMB's for several years about how Social Media is free......

  4. Carri Bright from, September 19, 2013 at 4:36 p.m.

    I'm not a fan of outsourcing social since it should be handled by someone who understands your company, not just someone who knows how to use FB. However, to do it on the cheap, contact a local college to see about hosting interns. Many colleges have social integrated into their Advertising, PR, Marketing & Communications programs so they will know the basics of how to set up these sites and be plugged in to connecting online. Just be sure to interview and select carefully.

  5. Lisa Gangadeen from The 33480 Group LLC, September 19, 2013 at 4:39 p.m.

    Small Businesses CAN afford Social Media help by choosing a trusted, experienced Social Media Company to train them or work with them on a basic package. You are correct that outsourcing on an ongoing basis may get too expensive. Our company provides numerous options, including one-time workshops at cost-effective rates. We do not force solutions onto our clients and instead offer what best fits their business. Thank you for this interesting article and the opportunity to add our views.

    Lisa Gangadeen, President - The 33480 Group LLC
    "Like" us:
    "Follow" us: @the33480group

  6. Hal Clifford from Take One Creative, September 19, 2013 at 4:47 p.m.

    How well do you want your social media executed? We produce content (video) for small businesses and NGOs; we get our clients after they realize it's too hard to do it well themselves. Our work is essential to social media execution (we produce something to talk about), and the smartest clients know they need to invest in what we do and in getting it out to their audiences. Would you paint your own sign for your storefront? You'd probably hire a sign painter. Why would your social media be any different? Great article; I've already blogged it. Thanks! Hal Clifford, Principal, Take One Creative. "Like" us at

  7. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 19, 2013 at 8 p.m.

    I have been saying this for years. Small businesses miss the power of local newspapers and are using some local DM pubs and envelopes. When the .com and .net has more .businesses, it is going to cost even more just to be found. Small business owners have a business to run and do not have time to run twits, fbeast or any other ramblers, let alone the time suck of digital profiles (or afford to pay for it with their constant necessary overseeing) and that is the problem.

  8. Carleen Clearwater from Kickass Marketing and Creative, September 20, 2013 at 1:03 a.m.

    Sorry had to jump in. Carrie (don't you work for a company that sells social sponsorships?) that is just bad, bad advice. Outsourcing your marketing, including social media to a pro is 100% acceptable, BECAUSE they are pros at marketing. Thinking someone has to be physically a part of your business in order to successfully assist you with your marketing is completely false. The realm of marketing now is evolving so quickly that to NOT HIRE A PRO for help or training is costly, very costly. Small business can not afford to make those types of mistakes and every marketing service provider is not outrageously expensive. There are plenty of quality pros in the market that provide very affordable services. Many of us provide training and workshops for business owners and in-house marketing staff to help them make better decisions and fill in the gaps as well. And to suggest to just go to the local college to get you "set up" for free or cheap is just BAD, BAD ADVICE. Not knocking college students, I donate many hours to mentoring the next generation of pros. It is simple, social media is not simple and small businesses have to assign appropriate resources to the budget to help them. If anything, they need to find out what is and isn't a waste of their resources and which channels will help them actually grow revenue.

    If you are a business and you need help, but have a small budget I would suggest connecting with your local American Advertising Federation, American Marketing Association, Business Chambers, and state agencies to see what kind of affordable (and there is a ton of it) training sessions you can attend. Find out what you don't know and ask who you should talk too for affordable start-up packages. Want more specific advice? Connect with me at @KICKASSCARLEEN, or

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