SMBs: Social Media a 'Necessary Evil,' According to Latest Borrell Survey

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Advertisers are feeling greater pessimism than before about the economy and more view social media marketing is a “necessary evil” according to results of the July Small & Medium Business Panel Survey conducted by Borrell Associates . The survey focused on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting social media activity and how advertisers felt about national brands cutting spending with platforms like Facebook.

Of the 210 surveyed the last two weeks of July, half said they expect the economy to get worse. That’s the highest percentage since the COVID-19 crisis started. Concerns over another lockdown and a lack of government leadership fueled their doubts.

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Three in five surveyed said social media was a “necessary evil,” but nearly half still considered it the best way to reach customers right now.

“Local businesses are very practical when it comes to advertising,” CEO Gordon Borrell said. “They cannot afford to be political with their messaging. They need ROI on every dollar they spend, and they need a friend in media to help them figure out what to say.”

Respondents said they have seen more website traffic (42%) and have been posting content more consistently (40%) since the start of the pandemic. They have also created more video and graphic elements (28%) and posted more live videos on their channels (24%).

One in five surveyed said they have increased their social media spending and more than half of those funded that increase by cutting print, radio, TV and event marketing. Borrell said traditional platforms like print can still play a vital role for advertisers, however.

“Newspapers are communication experts and local businesses need their help communicating with the public,” he said. “It’s not just helping design a print ad anymore. It’s helping with the overall message, especially in social media. That’s the opportunity for newspapers.”

Facebook remained the most popular marketing platform with 88% of respondents saying they’ve used it for advertising. Way down in second place was Instagram at 52%, LinkedIn at 35% and Twitter at 26%. TikTok finally gained a foothold among respondents with 5% saying they’re using the video service. That’s more than SnapChat or Reddit.

A number of big brands stopped spending on social media under pressure from activist groups concerned with “hate messages” on some platforms. The majority of SMBs however didn’t follow suit. Only 1% said they try to follow what the major brands do.

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For mor information, contact  Borrell Associates , 757-221-6641.

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