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Does it really take a business 150+ hours of work per year to succeed in social media?

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Digital and social media company makeovers are the right solution for Australian small business success – that’s the conclusion of American Express, based on a survey it sponsored in April.

From the answers of 1,008 participating small business owners (each with a turnover of less than $2million) across the nation, Amex came to the following conclusions:

  • Most (72%) small business owners using social media thinks it’s worked for them
  • Almost 70% however are concerned about using it (36% worry about privacy, 34% about it eating up time and other resources)
  • The biggest use (55%) of social media by small businesses is for building relationships with customers; closely followed by lead generation (52%) and marketing products or services (50%)

Amex also suggests from the survey results that in reality using social media doesn’t demand much time or money. It cites a majority of survey participants claiming to spend three hours or less per week on their social media presence, for an average total of around $550.

What resources do you really need for social media marketing?

However, whether small businesses can really spare even three hours each week is another matter. Lack of time and resources for this kind of marketing activity has been a complaint from businesses elsewhere.

For this reason, a different organisation, the ASCII Group (US), recently launched a “ghosted” social media marketing service to help its members to maintain their presence in different social networks.

The approach adopted by Amex is different. The company has opted for a competition named “Take Off” for Australian businesses. The prize for the winning small business owner is a digital and social facelift, accomplished with the help of social network surgeons LinkedIn and Facebook, and additional operating table assistance from Ogilvy and Momentum Worldwide, among others.

The lucky winner, to be announced June 28, also gets $10,000 to spend on his or her business.

How long does it take to see social media marketing success as a business?

Naturally, there’s a reason for this largesse. American Express has identified Australian small businesses as a sector to be developed for the services it provides. The survey and the competition are marketing moves to enhance awareness among SMBs of Amex as a financial solutions provider.

Yet, as Amex surely knows, successful marketing is typically a question of sustained or repeated, targeted actions. This is also true for the long-haul activity of social media marketing.

Amelia Zaina, Director of Marketing and Customer Engagement, Small Business Services at American Express, says the “Take Off” competition is to get small business owners to start to thinking about the benefits of social and digital media.

Noble plans indeed, but do small businesses have the time and skills required to engage with social media in a meaningful way?

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