Comment, Post, Engage: Study reveals only 14% of small businesses in the East Midlands have a social media strategy

  • ‘Lack of time’ cited as the most common reason not to use social media.
  • Local customers more likely to follow a business on Facebook.
  • The average small business owner spends just 42 minutes per week promoting their company on social media.

Established brands have been using social media for many years as an integral part of their marketing plans. An example of how a brand successfully engaged with its audience to expand its reach was the launch of the now wildly popular vegan sausage roll in January 2019 by Greggs.* In fact, in 2017, UK businesses spent £2.39 billion** on social media advertising alone. However, smaller businesses have been slow to exploit social media as part of their marketing strategies. 

The World Branding Forum – non-profit organisation for the advancement of standards in the branding industry – conducted a survey of 1,550 small business owners to find out exactly how social media savvy they are.

Interestingly, it was found that only 14% of small business owners in the East Midlands say they have any form of social media strategy, compared to a national average of 16%.

Moreover, it was found that 58% of consumers say local businesses do not do enough social media marketing but want to engage more with them! More than a third (37%) say they are most likely to follow local businesses on the Facebook platform, followed by LinkedIn (29%), YouTube (15%), Instagram (12%) and Twitter (7%).

Small business owners said the main reason they do not dedicate much to social media marketing is lack of time (39%). They also believe that these strategies can prove too expensive (30%), that they don’t know enough about social media (17%) and that they don’t think social media is effective (13%).

The survey also revealed that small business owners  admit to spending just 42 minutes per week promoting their business on social media.

‘Social media is not an option anymore. It’s a necessity. Whilst it is totally understandable that small business owners do not often have the time or budget to spend on social media, there are solutions. For example, it is possible to set up your brand’s social media posts on a scheduling program each week, freeing up time to focus on other aspects of running a business the rest of the time,’ says Mark Nathaniel, spokesperson for The World Branding Forum‘The most exciting stat to come out of our study is that while the majority of consumers believe local businesses do not do enough social media marketing, on the flipside it means there is plenty room for audience and brand expansion on these networking platforms – seize the opportunity to grow your company!’

The World Branding Awards has provided some useful social media tips for small business owners short on time and budget:

  • Be creative with your content. The litmus test when publishing content is to ask yourself: ‘If I read this, would I tell a friend about it?’
  • Focus on Facebook over other social media platforms.
  • Check with your web host to get ad promo credits.
  • Revamp your old blog posts.
  • Create a referral program for your customers.
  • Team up with another business.
  • Win online badges.

The World Branding Awards is the premier awards of the World Branding Forum, a registered non-profit organisation. The awards recognises the achievements of some of the world’s best brands. There are three major tiers of awards – the Global Award is awarded to international brands, Regional Award for brands that cover a geographic region, while the National Award is awarded to brands that are household names in their country of origin.  The World Branding Forum are hosting their tenth edition of the World Branding Awards at Kensington Palace this November. Excitement is fast building up over which brands will be named winners of the prestigious “Brand of the Year” award. For more information, visit:

**Greggs’ product launch perfectly coincided with the start of ‘Veganuary’ and was in response to a petition calling for a vegan alternative to the classic Greggs pork sausage roll. The launch was circulated so widely on social media that the bakery chain was unable to keep up with customer demand, with the vegan pastry flying off the shelves, driving profits up more than 50%!